Case in point… a close acquaintance is currently working on the production of a high-profile tv series. A scene was written in which one of the characters has a car accident. As written, the character has some facial bruising, and makes much of the physical injury to elicit sympathy. So, it wasn’t simply a case of window dressing. It really was a manifestation of character.
But here’s the thing – budget considerations meant the facial bruising has had to be written out. ‘Why the hell would something like that make any difference’, I hear you ask (or not… but there’s no stopping me now!)
Well, firstly, there’s the two hours or so with the makeup people having said bruises applied. And then there’s the continuity question. Scenes are rarely shot in sequence. Bruises fade. So if you’re shooting three scenes in the same location on the same shooting day, but those scenes are supposed to be weeks apart from each other when the finished show is cut together, our road trauma victim will have to have the bruise reapplied three times in the one day.
Not to mention, in the edit suite in post-production, editors and directors need the flexibility to chop and change scenes if certain sequences haven’t worked out as hoped. And that means that fading bruise-guy will lock them into certain sequences because you can’t have the bruise fading, getting darker, disappearing altogether, and then reappearing again.
Moral of the story – when you see something in a tv show or in a film that seems like a strange choice… eg: how on earth did that person walk out of that accident without any facial injuries… it’s usually the result of a very careful and considered decision on the part of the production team. And you should never take what you see on screen at face value.