Talking pictures : how they are made and how to appreciate them (1937)

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The Director Assistant directors and unit managers train them- selves to be calm. Thev are so accustomed to strange, immediate demands that thev accept them as routine. If a director suddenly would sav, "I must have Siamese twins on the set at 9:00 a. m. tomorrow," without a flicker of an eyelash a trained assistant would go to a telephone. At the appointed time the twins would be on hand. And these men are trained to prepare against any possible contingency. If a girl is required to run down a flight of stairs it is customary to order two or three duplicate gowns for her. Actresses have fallen under such circumstances and ripped their clothes. Delays caused by accidents of this kind would cost many times the price of a second gown. Newspapers once ridiculed a certain unit manager who had been seen loading several huge boxes of corn- flakes to be used as "snow" in the Arctic. But the unit manager had studied Arctic weather charts, and he knew that freak weather occasionally keeps snow out of the skies and of! the ground for weeks, even at the Arctic Circle. Had the company been delayed by lack of snow, a loss of thousands of dollars would have resulted. On location, unit manager and assistant director be- come hotel managers. Complaints about food and hous- ing come to them. Tact and diplomacy are prerequisite qualities of these men. Xo one who has the desire to work only eight hours a day should aspire to their positions. They are the hardest jobs in the film cata- logue. But they are the most satisfying to an ambitious [161]