ByJenika Enoch, writer at
I love movies, music, and art. I'm a certified graphic designer and love to be creative as much as humanly possible. @icemyeyes
Jenika Enoch

Ever wonder how movie blood always looks so great? Or how a certain sound effect is achieved?

There are countless tricks of the trade when it comes to filming movies and television shows. Little cheats to make certain settings more pleasing to look at or simply make your actors more comfortable are things that are used in the film industry every single day. The difference between the average moviegoer and someone knowledgeable about the industry is the average person doesn't always know the secrets behind the movie magic.

We all have been watching a movie or television show and thought, "man I wonder how long that took and how they did it." With this post I will hopefully reveal some tricks of the trade so next time you watch, you might have some fun picking out the little things or just knowing why things you've always noticed are done.

10. Why are movie streets always wet?

The simple answer is it's aesthetically pleasing. When you're filming outside, especially at night, it is difficult to gain proper contrast on black asphalt. Wetting the asphalt makes it easier to look at, allows your actors to stand out more, and it also reflects light better. Sure, it always makes it look like it has just rained, even in the desert, but your eyes are thanking you.

9. What non-drug substances are used for drugs in movies?

Drugs have existed in Hollywood films and television for decades and you would have to be completely naive to assume the drugs used in films are real. The fact is they are often every day substances millions of people consume each day. Most commonly used for cocaine are vitamin supplements like B-12, MSM joint supplements, powdered milk, and sugar.

8. What is fake blood made of?

There's no exact recipe for fake blood, but more often than not it's corn syrup and food coloring. Maybe throw in some dish soap or KY for texture and you're good to go. It's constantly re-applied in between takes to look fresh and wet, as well as to keep hair and clothes from sticking together. In the old days of black and white film, chocolate sauce was often used for blood.

7. How are actors able to binge eat and drink on set?

Two words: spit bucket. Very rarely will actors actually consume massive amounts of food on set, even if their characters are binge eating. During these scenes the actors have a bucket close to them so they can spit the food into it in between takes. However, some actors like Julia Roberts and Chris Pratt went the extra mile and actually downed the food their characters were enjoying in mass quantities.

6. How do they achieve such realistic sound effects?

The magic of sound effects go hand in hand with stunning visuals. Again, every day items are used to create sounds to accompany things such as stabbings, broken limbs, running through leaves, and much more. Alfred Hitchcock made a breakthrough while filming Psycho as he had the props department stab watermelons and cantaloupes to achieve the stabbing sound for Norman Bates. Other food items regularly used for things like broken limbs include breaking dry pasta or dry tree branches. In other words, being a sound engineer sounds like a super fun job.

5. What are movie cigarettes made of and are they safe?

Well, they're a lot safer than real cigarettes. Whenever you see a non-smoking actor whip out a cigarette, the contents inside are technically that of an herbal cigarette. They are nicotine and tobacco free, so although they might take a minute to get used to and it's still technically smoking, they're definitely less harmful than the real thing. The inside contents of these herbal cigarettes are also used for marijuana.

4. How come actors are usually filmed from the waist up?

There are a lot of things you need to pay attention to as an actor. You have marks you have to hit, you need to stand a certain way, you might be wearing lifts or standing on something to make you taller than you appear, or there might be equipment by your feet. For that reason, actors are often filmed from the waist or mid-thigh up. Basically, it hides any tape, equipment, cables, or whatever else might be on the ground around the actor. Obviously things are cleared out of the way, or digitally removed, for full-body shots but if you pay attention you'll notice a majority of shots do not include the feet.

3. Why do actors sometimes have shiny skin when filming horror movies?

As mentioned before, fake movie blood is often just a substance dyed red. Red is a pigment that is pretty hard to get out of basically anything once it's applied. Anyone who has ever dyed red or pink Easter eggs no doubt has had it on their skin for a couple days. The same would happen while filming a movie and for the sake of continuity, you can't really have actors showing up on set with dyed skin. The shininess you notice is from petroleum jelly being applied to the actor's skin prior to blood application. It protects the skin from being dyed from the fake blood and makes for an easier cleanup.

2. Are real guns used in movies?

Yes and no. A lot of the time weapons experts will come on set and show the actors how to safely and properly handle the weapons being used. As for bullets, those pops you're hearing are blanks. For instances where blanks can't be used due to noise or whatever else, airsoft or BB guns might be used and just dressed up to look like the real thing.

1. Why are some shots of villains angled?

This angle technique, otherwise known as the Dutch Angle, was created in 1919 by German filmmaker Robert Wiene. The slight angle is a film trick subtly used to inform the viewer that the character in the shot is evil or has bad intentions. It also is quite successful in creating a sense of unease within the viewer because the angle of the camera isn't as aesthetically pleasing to the eye.


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