This oral history of Swingers over at Grantland got a little long for me (but if you’re a fan, you should definitely read the whole thing), but there are good bits throughout. I particularly liked this part:
Ludwig: Our biggest cost was getting film. Film comes in 1,000-foot loads and 400-foot loads. On a big movie, they’ll throw away the end of the film, like the last hundred feet or so.
Liman: We shot most of the movie with these 100-foot short ends. It’s a minute of film. Which also meant the actors could get through 60 seconds of a scene and I’d have to call reload.
Wurmfeld: I cultivated a lot of relationships with the people around town selling short ends.
LaLoggia: I called this place in L.A. that does recycled, re-canned short ends and I just begged for the cheapest price we could get. (Many of the short ends came from the movie Twister.)
Liman: The problem with shooting on short ends, though, is that it takes four minutes to reload a conventional camera. I thought to myself: We’ll never get through the movie if we shoot a minute, spend four minutes reloading, shoot a minute, spend four minutes reloading. You’ll never get any kind of rhythm going. So I decided I would shoot the movie with this documentary 35-millimeter film camera that was not designed to shoot dialogue because it sounds like a sewing machine.
Ludwig: The camera was much louder than a regular camera that you’d use for a feature film. But it’s easy to load and very compact. I think it was developed so Godard could have a camera that would fit into his bicycle basket.
Liman: To absorb the sound, I would take my down jacket and put it over the camera and then take the two arms and tie them together underneath the lens. And then my comforter would just get wrapped around the whole thing once. Jon would describe it like he was acting in front of a big, fluffy snowball. But I really think that as insane as that setup was, it created a really safe environment for the actors. Vince really did some extraordinary things, like the scene where he’s supposed to be drunk and he jumps up on the table. You know, he had to do that in front of a lot of people and I feel like they looked at me and they were like, Doug is clearly not being self-conscious.
Favreau: There was never enough time and never enough film.
Liman: Every day we’d panic because I was shooting more film than I thought I was gonna shoot and we didn’t have enough film and we didn’t have any money.
LaLoggia: I used to hide film in the trunk of my car because Doug could not help himself. He just wanted to shoot, shoot, shoot, so we would lie to him and say that we were out of film.
Whatever it takes, baby.