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Request[AMA Request] Someone who works in TV/film that is responsible for compositing all those "real" family, wedding, childhood photos seen in the background

Apr 18th 2017 by cmc8290 • 8 Questions • 3812 Points

For a long time now I've been intrigued by the photos of characters that appear in the background of TV shows and movies. I assume for individual childhood/throwback photos they are just using a real photo of that actor... but what about when there's a group photo? Wedding photos, family vacations, etc. You can almost always tell it's really them from their younger days.

My 5 Questions:

  1. What goes into creating these?
  2. Does the director have a say in what photos the actor submits for the composite photos?
  3. Is this your primary job function or do you have other duties?
  4. What actor or actress had the funniest old photo that you've seen?
  5. Do you keep the photos as momentos once the show or movie is wrapped?
Q:

So, unlike other shows that would just send us the requests, HIMYM would often share the snippets of the script where the jokes were that they were using images to punctuate. This way, if we didn't have exactly what they were asking for, we'd understand the jokes and perhaps could suggest alternate things that would work and still be funny.

It was a lot of fun working with those guys, but one thing that still makes me chuckle, even though it's not particularly ridiculous, was when they asked us fora bunch of images of young attractive women... Plus a headshot of Madeline Albright (an older American female politician who looks like everyone's grandmother). It doesn't sound so funny or ridiculous, but if you watch this video at 3:11 in, you can see why it's funny. https://youtu.be/3htVoHJm7OM

Creating some of the silly signs and interstitial jokes that pop up when they made references from the past was super fun.

But I suppose the production that takes the cake on ridiculous things was actually Manswers. They were a show on Spike, geared towards men, that explained the answers to super random (and often ridiculous) questions. I mean RIDICULOUS. and they used a TON of licensed content to create these absurd scenarios. If you're not familiar with the show, you can get a sense for it (and see some of our images in screen caps) here: http://uproxx.com/tv/the-25-greatest-manswers-screencaps/

Edit: tangential note: the media and content industries are overwhelmingly female/gay male. You have no idea now many productions and publications geared towards straight men that I worked on where I didn't interact with a single straight male. I'm talking Manswers, Playboy, Maxim, etc.

A:

Seconded!


Q:

They cast the background photgraphs first then they hire actors and actresses that closely resemble the pictures.

A:

I knew it!


Q:

[deleted]

A:

/s


Q:

Using things like Josten's yearbook photos etc can be very dangerous if the actor is famous. You can bet the small-town photographer who only maybe shot two or three famous people in their life will remember those shots and think about filing a claim. Once it's aired they can pretty much name their price if it's clear infringement.

A:

Great answer, thanks so much for answering my odd burning question haha!


Q:

A friend's mother is a painter and is often hired to paint "family portraits" or "corporate portraits" of actors for their character homes or office. Actual oil paint.

A:

Quite the unique job!!


Q:

In the series SHAMELESS (US), the characters of Kev and V have an old pic of them together hanging on their fridge.

This is a real photo. Shanola Hampton guest starred on Reba and it's a real behind the scenea pic of her and Kevin Howey.

A:

LOVE Shameless but I've never noticed that pic! I'll have to keep an eye out. That's pretty neat that it's an actual pic of them from back in the day.


Q:

Interesting factoid, I happen to own the 'real family' portrait that hung in the living room in the background of the OJ Simpson TV movie that was made very soon after the Bronco Chase. This movie was a complete exploitation opportunity and it was made in a real hury. This is obvious in the portrait as it is clear that they stole a real picture of the family and then simply painted over the husband and wife to look more like the actors, but the children aren't even touched. It is honestly the creepiest thing I have ever seen but I haven't been able to bring myself to destroy it either. I keep imagining that someday, they will be a museum somewhere of the absolute creepiest things ever done by pop culture and this would be one of its prized possessions.

A:

Lmao this is amazing. So glad I posted this topic hahaha!!


Q:

Crypt-dwelling earthworms won't do AMAs unfortunately

A:

lmao I wish I could've thought of a better word than "compositing" since it does look like composting at first (and second... and third...) glances