Neil Davidson returned to speak at the Pattaya City Expats Club (PCEC) meeting on December 29. His latest topic was “Modern Hollywood – How you make a film. Forget the glamour, Focus on the ulcers!” He provided an inside feel for what really happens when you make a film, especially on how it turns from an idea into reality and how the demands of the movie stars are increasingly outrageous. His talk was spontaneously filled with funny and classic anecdotes from the film world. He had previously spoken to the PCEC on January 20, 2019 with his well received presentation “Gossip from the Golden Years of Hollywood.”
Neil has been a regular and very popular speaker for Cunard, P&O and Fred Olsen cruises. His great variety of talks bring the Golden Age of Hollywood alive with inside stories of the wonderful characters that were behind, and in front of the camera. Neil has always had a passion for films and the history of cinema. He has been involved in film making in one form or another all his life.
He is passionate about film, film history and the magic of cinema, particularly the early days when the industry was run by charismatic pioneers, not accountants. He has met many of the great names in the industry… From Coppola to Brando, from Lucas to Travolta and his talks reveal the real characters behind the entertainment industry.
He owns a film company that makes commercials for some of the world’s leading brands, like L’Oreal, Maybelline, American Express and Virgin. He has been involved with all levels of film making from script writing, to documentary making, to directing and producing high budget commercials. He or his companies have won the Duke of Edinburgh Award for innovation, the British Press Award for Innovation and the Queen’s Award for Technology.
Before Neil began his presentation, member Judith Edmunds treated the club to a ‘mini’ Hanukkah ceremony by lighting the candles on a Menorah. Before asking Jewish members of the club to each come and light a candle, Judith gave a short history on the background of the Celebration of Lights. The eight-day Jewish rite calls for the lighting of one candle each day to remember the eight miraculous days the light in the 2nd temple burned on only one day’s supply of oil.
The brief ceremony was followed by the main speaker Neil with his massive mental Hollywood trivia library overflowing. He initially reminisced about going to the movies as a young boy anytime you wanted since the films were usually double features and ran continuously. If you entered during the film, you merely stayed until that part of the film came up again, or you could stay as long as you wanted and spend all day there. On the screen before you were heroes whose values and actions unfolded and one desired to copy. Young minds were allowed to dream of big things.
Getting into the meat of his talk, Neil described all the components to making a film and their continually higher costs. There must be a story, a screenplay, a director, a leading actor, a musical score and subsequent track and of course producers. Add to that the CGI (computer graphics) costs and movies can cost up to 200 million or more. Neil played a split screen video showing an example of the so-called Foley effect for providing audio to filmed scenes. One screen showed the scene and the other showed guys making the sounds that needed to match that scene, including smacking a side of beef to simulate a punch to the face.
Neil lamented that Hollywood is not what it used to be. Nothing there is real. Everything is made bigger, faster, and wilder with the world of computer graphics making it so. Further, he mentioned that Hollywood is not glamorous anymore, only tacky. The key today in Hollywood is to make something that no one else can make. Make a daring move then run like hell.
If they hit it big (he showed a list of those films that did) then everybody gets rich. Leading actors who often get a percentage of the movies return not only get rich but eccentric as well. One example he mentioned was how Steve McQueen once was known to fill a bathtub from bottles of champagne, take a bath in it, then send it down the drain. Amazing!
All the studios are now owned by larger parent companies and Hollywood has four main moguls: Coppola, Lucas, Scorsese and Spielberg. Famous movies like Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jaws, ET and others have made their careers.
Despite this revolution in CGI drama, Neil has hope that the public will cry out for the return to films of the human spirit, real life drama and great acting and lines.
After the presentation, the MC brought everyone up to date on the upcoming club events and others of interest. This was followed by the Open Forum where questions are asked and answered about Expat living in Thailand, especially Pattaya.
For more information about the PCEC, visit their website at: www.pcec.club.