The Substance Behind Illusion
1 May 2023

Dolly Parton once said: “It costs a lot of money to look this cheap.” Likewise, to create the illusions you might enjoy as ‘realistic’ on screen, a great deal of fakery is involved.

Very often what IS real does not LOOK real (not just the other way around) – and so crafting a believable world involves a lot of work the average person wouldn’t even have thought of.

It begins with the simplest things… Even blood. Why not just get real blood from a butcher? One could question the ethics, or the comfort of actors, but the only and real reason it is not used is because real blood just doesn’t look realistic. Too brown, not nearly vibrant enough, doesn’t last for while the cameras roll, etc. So instead – all kinds of long, expensive and complicated chemical procedures to create something that is nothing at all like the real thing, but man oh man, does it LOOK good.

Or the backgrounds, the world, the places you see your characters move in. That gritty atmospheric authenticity of the street might in fact be propped up by scaffolding and painted planks.

It takes a lot of faking, a lot, and illusion, and tricks, and carefully placed falseness, to create a sense of truth.

Being occasionally in the business of creating illusions, one sometimes listens and watches the world: headlines, opinion pieces, speeches, televised questions and answers, the opinions of activists, the narratives ‘explored’ and offered by the learned…

And one gets the distinct sense that there’s a great deal of effort being put into the truth thus presented.

Not sure… but A for effort.