Worzels World - The camera never lies
There is an old saying that the camera never lies. This illustrates primarily that just because something is old doesn’t mean that it is true. I do not know who coined this phrase. I imagine a prosecuting attorney somewhere flourishing a photograph of the murderer in front of the jury saying ‘The camera never lies’. The guilty party in the photo matches the accused standing in the dock.
Sadly, whoever invented this phrase, and whoever has since quoted it, were bullshitting. All film is but puppet shows and cartoons – even the documentaries. It has been the custom, though a fading one, to occasionally use people to play the parts of the puppets. The TV news is no different, except the extras don’t get paid and there are no rubber mats for the stuntmen.
My long and not particularly distinguished screen acting career began in 1984. On a drizzly Auckland Saturday morning I sat with a flatmate over eggs and coffee reading the Herald. The two lined ad read: ‘Extras wanted for feature film. Ring Northern Television.’ A phone call and a cross-town motorcycle ride found us being photographed holding whiteboards with our names and a number on. I was number 54.
In due course we were cast and given dates, times etc to attend. The work was fun and the company good, the catering magnificent and the money wasn’t too bad either. Called Second Time Lucky, the film was a bit of a box office flop, however I watched it years later and thought it was okay.
After it was over I received a phone call out of the blue from a bloke named Peter Brown who asked if he could list me on his books. He was, he explained, an agent. I consented of course. There was no joining fee and he deducted 15 percent from any fees I received from the work he sourced for me. I never met him in person but he rang me with jobs reasonably often. It was mostly TVNZ stuff as, apart from wapiti and possum, there was bugger-all else being shot in New Zealand in those days.
I will always remember working a day on the Billy T James show. I look back on it as a great privilege to have worked in the company of arguably New Zealand’s greatest entertainer. He was also a good fulla too, eh bro.
It is not only the camera that lies but so too do the actors, directors, and most especially the writers. In fact they are all doing their utmost to lie as convincingly as they can. It is the type of lie called fiction and it is not a secret. Indeed an actors ability is gauged on just how convincingly they lie, although how or why actors become celebrity figures is beyond my
understanding. Being good at make-believe is hardly something that society should value too highly.
I have noticed that the proficiency of the production team is proportional to the quality of the final product. The working conditions are usually pleasant, the process interesting, the catering is always adequate and sometimes outstanding. Those contracted (and in any production everyone is a contractor) are usually content enough. And why wouldn’t they be? When any artist gets a paying gig they are happy as pigs in a wallow. To do what you enjoy and be well rewarded for it is about as good as it gets in this world. It is all a bit of a challenge and jolly good fun if you like that sort of thing.
As production techniques improve, one of the dangers faced by the viewing public is the ease with which fantasy can be confused with reality. For those who have been seduced in this way I must inform you that Shortland St doctors and nurses are not really doctors and nurses. Between them they could not cure a possum skin. I must remind you: It is all fake, even the news. Perhaps especially the news. These days more than ever we must read or watch and listen between the lines to find any sort of truth whatsoever. It has been said of CNN that if there is an element of truth in what they report it is a writing error.
And as for the jury and the photo that condemned the suspect in the dock, he was innocent of course. At the end of the movie it was revealed that the guilty party was his unknown half-brother – a cruel and merciless murderer with an uncanny resemblance to the executed innocent.
When any artist gets a paying gig they are happy as pigs in a wallow. To do what you enjoy and be well rewarded for it is about as good as it gets in this world.