The Magic of Movie Making

“Don’t Look Up” in Brockton

Spectators catch a glimpse of the filming of Adam McKay’s “Don’t Look Up” on Main Street in the city of Brockton, Massachusetts on Saturday, February 6, 2021

Hollywood is seen as a distant land where dreams come true. But dreams of stardom are actually not that far away.

Adam McKay, director of films like “Step Brothers,” “Vice,” and “The Big Short” is currently in Brockton shooting principal photography on his new film “Don’t Look Up.”

As a high school senior who wants to be a filmmaker, there was no greater thrill for me than going down to the set and seeing firsthand how a big-budget movie is made.

On Saturday night, Feb. 6 at 9:00 I went to Main St. in Brockton where dozens of people surrounded the set for the upcoming Netflix film. I was immediately entranced.

But when a voice yelled “rolling” the crowds went silent.

— Matthew Lyons

Millions of dollars of equipment, dozens of crew members, and some of the most talented actors in the world, including Academy Award nominated actor Timothée Chalamet and Academy Award winner Jennifer Lawrence, were just feet away. It was surreal.

With an entire street blocked off, a fictitious burger joint constructed, a massive light looming over the set, and the actors in position, the scene was ready to shoot.  Spectators like myself watched eagerly while chatting with friends. But when a voice yelled “rolling” the crowds went silent.  Everyone stood still.

“Action!” McKay called and the actors performed the scene. Though I was blind to the context of the scene, it was nonetheless captivating.

The juxtaposition between the preparedness of the cast and crew and the looseness of the performance was fascinating. After the lighting and blocking was done, the actors acted out the scene, complete with Chalamet screaming and throwing his beer against a brick wall and Lawrence kissing him.

McKay could be heard suggesting a few new ideas: “Maybe on the next take…”.

Everyone’s preparedness gave space for improvisation to try new things that might work better for the scene. Despite the lights, cameras, and crowd of spectators, the actors seemed calm.

For any future filmmakers or people who enjoy film in general, I would recommend visiting sets as much as possible. From watching McKay directing, to Chalamet’s and Lawrence’s acting, to the security guards surveying the area, to the crew setting up lights, a firsthand and up close experience of how the filmmaking process works is a great way to learn.