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7 Filmmakers Who Directed a Scene in Someone Else's Movie

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Occasionally, directors let other filmmakers (defined by IMDB as "people who have a significant degree of control over the creation of a movie: directors, producers, screenwriters, and editors") get in on the action during production. Here are seven examples.

1. Edgar Wright // Star Trek Into Darkness (dir. J.J. Abrams)

When Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead director Edgar Wright visited the Sony Studios set of Star Trek Into DarknessJ.J. Abrams invited him to direct one IMAX shot on the production's second unit, which was filming next door. "So I did," Wright tells mental_floss, "and was then late for my next meeting." His shot made up "about 32 frames of action in the finished movie," Wright says. "I did NOT shoot the whole scene, just one single set up of Klingons dying." Wright's shot appears in the action sequence that takes place on the planet Kronos in the Klingon Empire during Khan's capture and arrest.

2. Eli Roth // Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

The climax of Inglourious Basterds features a Nazi propaganda film called Stolz der Nation ("Nation's Pride" in English). Horror director Eli Roth, who also played Sergeant Donny "The Bear Jew" Donowitz in Basterds, directed the film-within-a-film using the pseudonym Alois von Eichberg (You can see a short clip from the DVD extra "The Making of Nation's Pride," with Roth as von Eichberg, here).

While the short film's running time is around 6 minutes, it took three days to complete. "When Quentin cast me, I told him that for the whole six-month shoot, I wasn’t going back to L.A. at any point, but there’s going to be long stretches where my character’s not being used, so if you need anything shot, pieces of scenes picked up to [make] the Cannes Film Festival, let me know," Roth told the Wall Street Journal:

He said that he’d never done that before, but would think about it. Later, he called me and said, get your a– on a plane to Berlin, you’re going to make “Nation’s Pride.” In the script, there are three lines of dialogue from ["Nation's Pride"]. Quentin said he would shoot that, but I need shots of guys shooting. We only had two days, so I asked to fly out my brother Gabriel, and I promised him that we’d get it done, and in two days, we got 140 shots of 20 guys running around in vignettes.

Tarantino was so pleased with the results of those first two days that he gave Roth a third day to shoot with Daniel Brühl, who played Nazi sniper Zoller.

3. Terry Gilliam // Monty Python and the Meaning of Life (dir. Terry Jones)

Originally intended to be an animated sequence at the end of Part V of Monty Python's The Meaning of Life, Terry Gilliam convinced the comedy troupe to make "The Crimson Permanent Assurance" a live-action sequence instead. Gilliam made the sequence bigger and bigger, and its running time jumped from 6 minutes to a whopping 30 minutes. The director was able to cut the sequence down to 16 minutes, and it was ultimately placed in front of The Meaning of Life as its prologue.

4. Don Bluth // Xanadu (dir. Robert Greenwald)

During post-production on Xanadu in 1980, Electric Light Orchestra—which created music for the film—wanted Universal Pictures to incorporate "Don't Walk Away" into the musical. Although the studio agreed, there was no place to put it in the final version. So Xanadu producer Joel Silver brought animator Don Bluth and his producing partner Gary Goldman onto the project to create an animated fantasy sequence featuring "Don't Walk Away," which would bridge two scenes.

Universal gave Bluth—who was in the middle of directing the animated film The Secret of NIMH—12 weeks to animate the fantasy sequence. He took a small team to his house and for three months—12 hours a day, seven days a week—they animated the sequence in Bluth’s garage while the rest of his crew produced The Secret of NIMH at the studio.

5. Aaron Sorkin // The Social Network (dir. David Fincher)

(25:52 mark)

On the last day of shooting on The Social Network, director David Fincher left the set early to give screenwriter Aaron Sorkin the opportunity to direct the last shot of the film. Although the scene Sorkin directed was a small transitional scene, which featured college students discovering Facebook for the first time, the screenwriter got to say "That's a wrap!" on The Social Network's production.

6. Quentin Tarantino // Sin City (dir. Robert Rodriguez & Frank Miller)

As a favor for Tarantino, director Robert Rodriguez scored Kill Bill Volume 2 for $1. In return, Tarantino agreed to shoot one scene in Rodriguez's next film, Sin City, for the same amount. The scene Tarantino directed featured Dwight (Clive Owen) talking to a dead Jackie Boy (Benicio Del Toro) while driving. Although Quentin Tarantino only shoots his movies using real film, he agreed to shoot Sin City using digital cameras because he wanted to get some hands-on experience using the filmmaking technology.

7. Kazuto Nakazawa // Kill Bill Volume 1 (dir. Quentin Tarantino)

In Kill Bill Volume 1, Quentin Tarantino turned to Production I.G. in Japan to bring "Chapter 3: The Origin of O-Ren" to life. Kazuto Nakazawa directed the seven-and-a-half minute animated sequence, which follows the early years of assassin O-Ren Ishii before she became a member of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad and later the "Queen of the Tokyo underworld." Katsuji Morishita, Animation Producer at Production I.G, recalled that "A person in charge of Japanese casting and staff coordination for Kill Bill informed us of Quentin's strong request for IG to work on the animation sequence, and then later Quentin himself came to our studios to meet with us in person":

He already had the image and style in mind, and wanted us to make the animation based on his script. He actually acted out the performances of the characters to be animated in front of us. There were 4 sequences in all, and the production period was 1 year. Those 4 sequences would've been extremely difficult to make in live action. Even if it had been possible, it would've taken tremendous amount of budget and work.

Production I.G. is the animation studio behind seminal Japanese anime such as Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire, and the Neon Genesis Evangelion movies.

BONUS: Heath Ledger // The Dark Knight (dir. Christopher Nolan)

In The Dark Knight, The Joker kidnaps Batman impersonators and threatens to kill the people of Gotham if the real Batman doesn't unmask himself. He releases a video to the local news revealing his threats to Batman and Gotham. According to Christopher Nolan, Heath Ledger directed the threatening video. Cinematographer Wally Pfister set up lights for the scene and Nolan gave Ledger a camera and told him to do whatever he wanted to do for the scene. Ledger shot multiple takes in different ways to play around with the scene, but it always fell in line with The Dark Knight's overall story.

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The Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day Marathon Is Back
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Shout! Factory

For many fans, Mystery Science Theater 3000 is as beloved a Thanksgiving tradition as mashed potatoes and gravy (except funnier). It seems appropriate, given that the show celebrates the turkeys of the movie world. And that it made its debut on Thanksgiving Day in 1988 (on KTMA, a local station in Minneapolis). In 1991, to celebrate its third anniversary, Comedy Central hosted a Thanksgiving Day marathon of the series—and in the more than 25 years since, that tradition has continued.

Beginning at 12 p.m. ET on Thursday, Shout! Factory will host yet another Mystery Science Theater 3000 Turkey Day marathon, hosted by series creator Joel Hodgson and stars Jonah Ray and Felicia Day. Taking place online at ShoutFactoryTV.com, or via the Shout! Factory TV app on Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire and select smart TVs, the trio will share six classic MST3K episodes that have never been screened as part of a Shout! Factory Turkey Day Marathon. Here’s hoping your favorite episode makes it (cough, Hobgoblins, cough.)

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10 Far Out Facts About Killer Klowns From Outer Space
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Killer Klowns From Outer Space was a cinematic tightrope act. Released in 1988, the film skirted the divide between comedy and chills while also juggling elements of classic B-movies, punk rock, and the Memphis-style art aesthetic. A dream project for its creators, the cult classic looks at science fiction tropes through a funhouse mirror. Plus, it showcases some of the deadliest desserts in film history.

1. IT WAS WRITTEN, PRODUCED, AND DIRECTED BY THREE BROTHERS.

This passion project was a family affair. Bronx natives and special effects artists Charles, Edward, and Stephen Chiodo arrived on the Hollywood scene back in the 1980s. In 1982, they founded their own company, Chiodo Brothers Productions. Since then, a huge array of directors have enlisted the trio’s services. Some of their most iconic works include the “Large Marge” claymation from Pee-wee’s Big Adventure and the monster effects in Critters, a 1986 horror-comedy.

One day, Stephen found himself entertaining a spooky hypothetical: In a thought exercise, the artist tried to come up with the single scariest image that he could devise. “I imagined myself driving up a lonely mountain road and somebody’s passing me on the left, and when I turn to see who it is, it’s a clown,” he recalled in 2011.

When he brought the idea to his brothers, Charles came up with a twist: What if the clown was actually an alien? And what if it wasn’t driving a car but levitating over the ground? The brothers converted this premise into a feature-length movie script. Once TransWorld Entertainment green-lit the film, Stephen stepped up to the plate and directed it.

2. THE CLOWNS' EXPLOSIVE NOSES WERE AN HOMAGE TO ZOMBIE CINEMA.

Every monster needs an Achilles’s heel, and—as Officer Dave learns in the above clip—the space clowns are no exception. Punch, kick, or shoot one of these aliens in its bright red nose and the creature will explode. At the 2011 Spooky Empire horror convention, the Chiodos revealed that this little attribute was inspired by a familiar trope in zombie cinema. “It seemed so logical,” Edward Chiodo said during a panel discussion. “Shoot the nose, kill the clown.” “How do you kill a zombie?” Stephen then asked. “Shoot the brains, kill the zombie. Same idea.”

3. MIKE’S RUBBER RAFT HAS ITS OWN BACKSTORY.

Zombie references are just the beginning. Growing up, the Chiodos were big monster movie fans. Killer Klowns spoofs a lot of their all-time favorites. The cotton candy cocoons, for example, are a riff on the pods from Invasion of the Body Snatchers. And in an obvious wink at The Blob, the first big scene in Killer Klowns finds a pair of teenagers making out in a parked Pinto when, suddenly, a meteorite crashes by their scenic lookout point. The car belongs to Mike (Grant Cramer), who’s using it to romance his girlfriend, Debbie (Suzanne Snyder). For some reason, the young lovers choose to lock lips on top of an inflated yellow raft in the trunk. Why does Mike keep that thing there? A lot of fans have pondered that very question. According to Charles Chiodo, Debbie asks him point blank in the original script. Mike answers her with a story about how he was out rafting on Long Island Sound one night with his good pals, the Terenzi brothers. When his father heard about the incident, he flipped out, so poor Mike now has to hide the inflatable boat in his Pinto. Although this dialogue-heavy scene was shot, it ended up getting cut because, in Charles Chiodo’s words, “we had too much exposition.”

4. THE DRAG RACER CLOWN LITERALLY HAD A FEW TRICKS UP HIS SLEEVE.

Stephen Chiodo’s original thought experiment—the spark which set the whole project into motion—was realized in a heart-racing action sequence, which shows a space clown with headlights on the soles of his giant shoes levitating next to a car and then driving the vehicle off the road. To pull off that visual, a stuntman in a killer klown costume was seated on a mechanical rig that was physically connected to the automobile. A controller in the suit’s wrist enabled the man to move said rig backward and forward as needed. In addition to the stuntman’s work, this scene also uses two shots that were realized with stop-motion animation.

5. IT WAS CHRISTOPHER TITUS’S FIRST MOVIE.

Keep an eye out for Christopher Titus during the opening credits sequence: He’s the blonde teen who casually strolls in front of Officer Mooney’s police car while downing a can of beer. Today, this standup comedian is best known for his edgy network sitcom, Titus, and his one-man special Norman Rockwell is Bleeding.

Although most of his scenes were deleted in post, Titus says that he’s been asked to sign loads of Killer Klowns DVDs over the years. “The movie geeks who liked that movie really liked that movie,” he told Westword in 2013.

6. TO KEEP THAT BALLOON ANIMAL FROM POPPING, THE EFFECTS TEAM COATED IT IN LATEX.

Being teenagers in a horror movie, Mike and Debbie can’t help but do some snooping when they discover a circus-themed spaceship. The clowns soon chase them out and then use a balloon dog to track their scent. This gag proved difficult to shoot. In the scene, the inflatable pooch gets dragged over some rough forest floor terrain. As Charles Chiodo explained the DVD bonus documentary Kreating Klowns, their balloons kept popping prematurely on pine cones and other objects. So to get the shot, he gave one of the dogs a protective layer of latex and then solidified it with a hairdryer. That did the trick; Charles’s quick fix kept the balloon from exploding.

7. THE PIE SCENE WAS MORE COMPLEX THAN IT LOOKED.

Pie-in-the-face humor is a time-honored tradition, one that Killer Klowns subverts by having a luckless security guard get pelted to death with highly acidic desserts. For this famous scene, the Chiodos decided to use actual pies instead of the more conventional shaving cream-filled tins. Though more realistic, the approach had some drawbacks. “We needed the colored fillings for our final reveal and we needed the crust. And we found out that getting hit in the face with a pie [at close range] was painful,” Charles Chiodo said.

The crew needed to devise a way for actor David Piel to get repeatedly pied from a nice, safe distance away. They also had to avoid hurling the tins at him because the Chiodos also wanted some gratuitous shots of custard and cream oozing down Piel’s face. If any tins were clinging to him, they’d block all that filling from view. Once again, Charles came up with a novel solution: By feeding their fingers through a wristband on the back of each pie tin, the crew could launch the desserts forward without letting go of their metallic containers. Some actors got in on this fun, too: Cramer remembers getting to toss a pie at Piel during the scene.

8. FOUR PRIMARY “GENERIC CLOWN HEAD” MASK MOLDS WERE BUILT.

At the 2011 Spooky Empire convention, Charles Chiodo told the crowd that Stephen wanted his team to sculpt “four generic head types: one round, one triangular, one inverted triangle, and one peanut-shaped.” Once completed, these were mass-produced, with the effects artists creating two clown characters from each of the four molds. On top of that, an original mask mold was made for Klownzilla, the giant who shows up at the film's climax.

But how did the masks change their facial expressions on camera? That was made possible through a system of built-in, mechanically-controlled cables. By the way, some of the masks were later repurposed as troll heads for the 1991 comedy Ernest Scared Stupid, which the Chiodos also worked on.

9. THE DICKIES WROTE THE KILLER KLOWNS THEME SONG BEFORE THEY SAW THE MOVIE.

Just like The Blob, Killer Klowns From Outer Space opens with an original title song. However, instead of a sax-heavy lounge number, we get an energetic punk rock jam, courtesy of The Dickies. When the band was asked to compose the theme song for Killer Klowns From Outer Space, they wrote one entirely on the basis of their gut reaction to the movie’s title. At the time, the band hadn’t so much as read the script and they wouldn’t see the film until well after their song had been recorded. The Chiodos credit The Dickies with expanding their movie’s cult fan base by prompting punk rockers to check it out.

10. A SEQUEL HAS BEEN IN DEVELOPMENT HELL FOR 29 YEARS.

Will our home world ever be revisited by those murderous space clowns? The Chiodos started toying around with a second Killer Klowns movie very early on. “Look, Hollywood is a very fickle industry,” Stephen Chiodo told The Odd Podcast in 2016. “We’ve been working on a sequel since the day after we made [the first movie]. I mean we have tons of ideas on different directions we can take it.” So what’s with the hold up? The brothers have cited financial and legal setbacks as major roadblocks.

In 2012, Cramer said that one proposed sequel idea would take his character in a tragic new direction. “[One] of the Chiodos … came up with the idea that everybody thinks Mike Tobacco is crazy,” Cramer said. Set long after the events of the original movie, this hypothetical follow-up would portray Mike Tobacco as the town drunk whom everyone else believes to be crazy—until the clowns return. The Chiodos have also discussed the possibility of a four-part “trilogy” that’d be part sequel and part remake and produced for cable television.

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