Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

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tepples
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Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by tepples » Wed Jan 31, 2018 9:59 am

I don't know much about the movie business. I'm not giving specific details, and I hesitated to even ask this question, for fear of looking like an entitled whiner.

Is it normal for an actor with a speaking role in a movie to have to buy a ticket to see his own movie, or even be locked out of it entirely due to not owning compatible proprietary viewer hardware or software or living in a country where it is not available? Does it change if the movie is a work of fiction or a documentary? Or if the role is paid or unpaid? Or union or non-union?

"Jared Leto, Julianne Moore & More Celebs Who Say They Can't Watch Themselves on Screen" by Diana Pearl lists a bunch of actors, most of whom choose not to watch their own works. But the first on the list, Full House star Jodie Sweetin, has never had a chance to see an episode of Full House because she doesn't own a TV. Is a situation like that common or uncommon?

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by dougeff » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:24 am

Is a situation like that common or uncommon?
Yes.
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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by Punch » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:39 am

There's something called a Demo Tape, there's no reason not to give an actor a complimentary copy of the movie, even if only a work print.
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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed Jan 31, 2018 10:46 am

I don't think everyone wants to - It can be quite uncanny to see yourself acting on a screen.
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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by Revenant » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:02 am

I think it's similar to (or even a much stronger version of) the phenomenon where people often find it uncomfortable or strange to listen to a recording of themselves speaking.

The Jodi Sweetin quote sounds much less like being "locked out" of anything and more like a general disinterest in watching television. (She mentions having Netflix, and Full House is available on Netflix.)

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by rainwarrior » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:28 am

I don''t think it's normal for an actor not to be able to watch their own movie. A complimentary copy of some kind is a very reasonable expectation. Even if for unpaid work, or I should say especially if unpaid. (However, I'm sure a lot of dubious companies neglect to do this.)

It is similar with game companies, the places I've seen not have a policy of giving every employee a complimentary copy after it ships are generally the kind that take the money and run, likely to try to skip some actual wages as well.


The other phenomenon of actors not wanting to watch themselves in the finished movie is fairly common though. (This is irrelevant to the above, however. They still deserve a copy, and usually would own one.) Though, there is a difference between refusing to watch yourself at all, and not watching the finished product. There's usually a practical necessity to see yourself in some form as you're working, but by the time the project is edited and finished your work is long cold, and very much out of your hands and under someone else's control.

I've also known animators who have not watched the finished film that they worked (for years) on, and many game developers who have never played the finished version of a game they worked on. Part of it is just how different it is to experience something like this when you've been inside every little thing of it, with magnified scrutiny, and now it's been cut down to a single version, and probably not quite in the form you would have done it if you had more power over the finished product.

It's a just plain different experience to view your own stuff, and it's not really necessary to force yourself to do it if you don't like it.


(I personally am not this kind of person. I've played through all the games I've worked on*, and the one I'm currently on is 100% mine and I don't have QA employees so I'm playing it through multiple times per day at this point. Similarly, I'm not an actor but I've gladly watched every video I've knowingly appeared in.)
Last edited by rainwarrior on Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:46 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by FrankenGraphics » Wed Jan 31, 2018 11:47 am

But then, i imagine you appear as yourself in those films? (that can be uncomfortable for some, too). Seeing yourself acting can sometimes be ghastly by comparison. Worse still if you act as somebody you have a hard time sympathizing with. According to cinema legend, Bruno Ganz was shook when seing himself as hitler in Das Untergang. The exact details unknown and unsure, it's not hard to imagine.
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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by rainwarrior » Wed Jan 31, 2018 2:47 pm

Additional note to my last statement above:

* Actually I just realized I've never played Rocksmith, which I technically did work on though I am uncredited, and it was definitely one of those shady situations where I never got a copy and also I didn't actually get paid for some of the work. (Ubisoft is not in the wrong here, I was doing work for a subcontracted developer whom they paid fairly... it just never trickled down to me from there.)

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by gauauu » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:12 pm

Shrug. If you're the STAR of a show, I'd expect the creator might go out of their way to help you see it. But if you're one small part, or an extra, I wouldn't necessarily expect special treatment. I've bought a copy of an O'Reilly book because it had a page about one of my games. I didn't get a free copy, nor would I expect to.

In particular, if the issue is the technology for you to watch it, I wouldn't expect the content creator to go out of their way to provide you with technology if the lack of sufficient technology is a lifestyle choice. (in your example, I wouldn't expect the producers of Full House to buy a TV for Jodie Sweetin. Nor would I expect a content creator to go out of their way for me because I run linux instead of a more mainstream consumer OS)

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by rainwarrior » Wed Jan 31, 2018 3:54 pm

gauauu wrote:I've bought a copy of an O'Reilly book because it had a page about one of my games. I didn't get a free copy, nor would I expect to.
Did you participate in the writing of that page, or is it merely someone else writing about something you did?

Like there's obviously no expectation that a reviewer or critic must notify you that they're writing about something of yours, but that is a different situation. You are not an employee of them, nor are you really a direct participant in their work. You put something into the public arena, and they are responding to it independently.

In contrast, if someone interviewed me I would expect at the very least to see a finished version of the interview. Not necessarily a whole book, but absolutely the part I contributed to.

At every reputable game company I've worked for, all employees would get a copy of the game after shipping, even QA. For some people I knew who worked in dedicated QA for a large company where they went through tons of games, even there they had a policy of X free games per year or something like that.

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by Alp » Wed Jan 31, 2018 5:01 pm

rainwarrior wrote:and many game developers who have never played the finished version of a game they worked on.
I've done this for the last handful of games I've worked on, also requesting to be credited as "Alan Smithee", in place of my real name.

Another reason for the lack of playing the final released games, is that I simply don't own the consoles the games have been released on, nor do I care to.

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by Bregalad » Thu Feb 01, 2018 3:11 am

FrankenGraphics wrote:I don't think everyone wants to - It can be quite uncanny to see yourself acting on a screen.
But how could they possibly improve if they don't watch themselves ? I think even the starts are looking to improve the quality of their work, or I might just be plain wrong about this.

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by tepples » Thu Feb 01, 2018 10:55 am

gauauu wrote:If you're the STAR of a show, I'd expect the creator might go out of their way to help you see it.
I mentioned "speaking role" because "star" is a spectrum.
  1. Actor billed before title
  2. Actor billed in opening credits
  3. Actor with speaking role, billed in closing credits
  4. Non-speaking role identifiable as an individual in the script
  5. Extras
That's also why I mentioned "union or non-union", because I imagine that SAG-AFTRA productions follow its rules on where cast and crew are credited, whereas non-union productions need not follow all SAG-AFTRA rules.
gauauu wrote:But if you're one small part, or an extra, I wouldn't necessarily expect special treatment. I've bought a copy of an O'Reilly book because it had a page about one of my games. I didn't get a free copy, nor would I expect to.
Were you interviewed for that book, and if so, did it quote you? I imagine that if it did, you would want a copy with which to verify that the quotation did not misrepresent the position that you expressed during the interview. Some reality TV shows have been caught using manipulative editing techniques just short of the sentence mixing associated with YouTube Poop videos.
gauauu wrote:Nor would I expect a content creator to go out of their way for me because I run linux instead of a more mainstream consumer OS
I thought publishers went "out of their way" to use digital restrictions management technologies, such as Amazon DRM or BD AACS, in the first place.


EDIT: Updated with additional citations

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by rainwarrior » Thu Feb 01, 2018 11:49 am

Bregalad wrote:
FrankenGraphics wrote:I don't think everyone wants to - It can be quite uncanny to see yourself acting on a screen.
But how could they possibly improve if they don't watch themselves ? I think even the starts are looking to improve the quality of their work, or I might just be plain wrong about this.
Most actors would watch their movie when finished. (...and most would attend the premiere.)

Even the ones that don't want to watch the finished movie, though, almost certainly have seen footage of themselves during production (e.g. dailies). There's a big difference in utility between watching your work the same day, and watching a heavily edited and composited version a year later.

...and if you're one of those people who is creeped out by seeing yourself on a theatre screen, that probably strongly outweighs the very marginal utility of seeing that detached, delayed, edited by someone else version of yourself. Don't forget as well, even within a scene it's all pieces of different takes, out of order, etc. there's a huge disconnect between what you did and what it is at that point.

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Re: Stars who can't watch themselves on screen

Post by FrankenGraphics » Thu Feb 01, 2018 1:01 pm

But how could they possibly improve if they don't watch themselves ?
Besides what rainwarrior said, you have the peer review of your acting partners, the director/s, and other staff members, and you also have a sense while acting what you do good or not. You can train a keen sense to know when you're in or out of character. There are different schools of acting; performative, or stanislavskiyan, for example, where you immerse yourself in your role taking over its fears, quirks, ambitions, relations and drives as your own. These different schools all have their different tricks and measures.

Watching yourself is a helpful tool among others, but it's not the only one.
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