Food in the cinema: why actors never swallow and how do you shoot the scenes in which you eat? | Movie theater

Have you ever wondered how the food at the cinema, if the actors really eat, if they swallow or spit, and if the cooked dishes are really good? In this article we discover the techniques most used by the seventh art to film the characters who consume dishes.

Imagine a performer filming a dinner scene with friends. He does this all morning, with the set blacked out and the dishes served one after the other several times until the shot is exactly as the director intended. After eating in front of the camera, he takes a lunch break and goes to the canteen with his colleagues. He tastes the dishes on the tray and returns to the set table where he resumes working the sequence and putting various types of food in his mouth. How not to feel sick and hungry?

How do you film food in the cinema?

In this scene from Inglourious Basterds the actors act with food. In particular, the strudel that Hans Landa orders from Shoshanna allows him to impose his control over the situation (symbolized by the cigarette extinguished in the cream at the end). Christoph Waltz expresses his character’s duplicity through chewing. It is long, conspicuous, often the food remains in its mouth and between its teeth. Mélanie Laurent is much more sober, she eats with her mouth closed, small quick bites.

There is, however, a peculiarity: apart from the sound design (which gives the illusion of seeing something that is not there with the noises), neither of the two actors ever swallows the food he is eating. to eat. Although Tarantino insists a lot in the shots with a very generous editing, we never see them swallow the bite. It is always cut shortly before going against the court and then back while the character is bringing another slice of cake to his mouth.

This editing trick is found in the vast majority of films. Maybe not The Life of Adele where one gorges and soils oneself with food, or in Old boy where you actually eat a live octopus. Usually, however, the performer also pretends to eat, especially when the same scene is to be repeated over and over again.

Why don’t they swallow their food?

The reasons are many, as this TikTok video explains well. The dishes offered on stage are perfectly edible. There are exceptions, like those that have purely aesthetic value, but usually it’s real food.

The director and the screenwriter have the double problem of making it really look like a meal, while maintaining continuity shot by shot. Food can stay out in the open for hours. For this reason, often on stage, you play with the dishes without even bringing them to your mouth.

Just having to chew it isn’t exactly enjoyable, let alone ingest it. The stage is therefore set up for the actors to spit.

I mean, are you saying that at the stop the actors spit?

Not always. It depends on what they eat and how long they’ve been spinning. In the case of long processes or multiple doses, it is normal not to binge until you feel bad. Even if you were hungry, gorging yourself on cold fries or burgers would be a threat to your health.

Wine in the cinema, on the other hand, is a colored preparation absolutely without alcohol. Coffee cups are usually empty. Lady Gaga in Gucci House he had sparked arguments in the scene where he slams the spoon against the cup after mixing it. There was no trace of coffee, not a drop spurting from the movement.

Aesthetics are important. When the dish, shape and colors of dishes are particularly important, consult a food designer. This often happens in the case of, for example, the Servant series where the main protagonist spends most of his time making eye candy. Indeed, if those who are in front of the camera can pretend to taste a good dish, for us spectators there remains only visual satisfaction. The illusion that what is consumed is really delicious. And that may be the case too. It will probably be hours. When you see a steaming plate that continues to be shot after shot, it’s probably the result of post-production with the addition of digital effects.

You can’t do anything but act, even when you eat. Like when you smoke a cigarette on stage. But this is another story.

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