Why isn't this a million dollar idea?

I know I’ve probably forgotten something that would make this idea unworkable, but on the surface this seems like a sure fire way to make some good money for a motivated information geek or out of work polymath.

I was thinking of how many big money Hollywood scripts and the movies made from them (to say nothing of TV scripts) are positively riddled with glaring, clunky technical errors regarding well… pretty much everything, from history, to science, to weapons, to etc. etc. - take your pick.

Why couldn’t someone make a ton of money in Los Angeles offering a reasonable cost vetting service where they read your script, and give technical commentary on how much stuff is nonsensical garbage or needs to be changed. They could charge a few hundred to a few thousand per script depending on the level of analysis desired, and could give analysis of specific technical points or (for a larger fee) get additional accuracy geeks to weigh on other parts of the script.

It’s obvious this isn’t being done with any degree of diligence given the silliness that slips through in lots of big budget scripts.

Now… why would this not work?

Technical errors, unless they are particularly numerous and egregious, do not have a sizable effect on movie reviewers or box-office numbers. Your service is simply not needed enough to justify the fees you want to charge.

This thread over in GQ evolved into a discussion of why there are so many technical errors in movies and why, in general, movie-makers don’t care.

Somewhat related to this thread, an English-speaking friend here in Tokyo has been making a killing “fixing” English words and copy on advertising, ad copy, customer pamphlets, signs, etc. There’s plenty of ENGRISH going around here.

Independence Day:You want to fly up to and alien spaceship, plug in your Mac and give them a computer virus? Don’t be so stupid.

Result: Human race is wiped out.

War of the Worlds: Martians aren’t going to be vulnerable to Earth based bacteria.

Result: Human raced doomed.

Armageddon Bomb destroys asteroid size of Texas? That’s dumb.

Result: Planet Earth destroyed.

Jurassic Park: creating dinosaurs from insect DNA, come on…

Result: Human race survives, but resulting 10 minute film does poorly at box office.

Terminator Arnie cleverly conceals nuclear bomb in chest cavity.

Result: LA is destroyed in first five minutes of film. Investors unhappy with the result.

I have to go with the “they don’t care” theory. And in the case of situations like Tapioca suggested, where it fucks up there basic premise, I’d say they’d be actively hostile.

But…if you went out to Hollywood and marketed your idea…playing up the thought that people are out there laughing at them when they get these details wrong (that is playing on their insecurities. I don’t know why I imagine Hollywood executives are insecure…just a guess) you might get business. Let us know how it goes :slight_smile: .

OTOH, it could be a great DVD feature, Imagine a crawl at the bottom of the screen. Or a Mystery Science 3000 type presentation - but with real scientists. That might be fun.

I’m a math guy and I never care if they “get it right”.

The thing is, I don’t get people who don’t like movies because of stuff like historical inaccuracies.


Now, if Maximus pulls out a gun or turns on a light switch in Galdiator, that’s one thing. That’s going to remove anyone from the movie. But if you’re worried that “in the time of Claudius, there was a shortage of blue dye, so his robes wouldn’t have been blue” or “in Master & Commander, they didn’t use a mizzen sail and a fore sail on the same ships”, well. . .I would call people who have problems with that kind of thing quite UNsophisticated movie goers.

You wanna watch an accurate movie? Go check out “Gods & Monsters” (I’ll wake ya when it’s over) or watch a documentary.

I’m willing to forgive technical inaccuracies and historical anachronisms when 1) the production is better serviced by it (those blue robes just LOOK better) or 2) It makes absolutely NO difference whatsoever to the story or 3) they’re not so glaring that they take you out of the picture (and I mean glaring to the 99.99% of the people watching the movie).

Even IF they are things you notice, you just need to put yourself in “movie mindset”. Let it slide. Enjoy the show.

From that GQ thread, I found this interesting. It was written by a historian who was a consultant on Gladiator. She’s not so much complaining about historical inaccuracies, though, as she is being listed as a consultant when so many of her ideas were totally ignored. She sounds disillusioned, and ignorant of how movies are made (THEY KEEP CHANGING THE SCRIPT!!!)

There apparently is a business started by some tech geek from MIT or somewhere , providing technical advice for Hollywood films. It’sd just not a million-dollar idea, as others have noted above. But it’s enough for a living.
I read about the company a few months ago, but I can’t recall where, or what the company name is…

Some years ago, I read a magazine piece by a guy who’d once written an article about the real-life air transport system of the federal prison system. In short, there really IS a “Con Air,” of sorts.

When Jerry Bruckheimer started working on the movie “Con Air,” he hired this author as a consultant, and paid him a nice fee. Months went by, the shooting was almost finished, and the author decided to call Bruckheimer’s office to ask, “Well, do you have any questions for me? Am I going to contribute anything?”

And the answer was, essentially, “Nope.”

In many cases, a “consultant” is hired and put in the credits simply so the producers can tell sniping critics and skeptics, “Look, this is all real and true- we even had expert consultants.”

I suspect in other cases the expert is given a retainer of sorts, just in case the film-makers need to have a question answered during shooting when time is critical. In the case of Con Air, they clearly never ran into anything they considered needing professional advice.

I don’t think that the problem is that writers don’t care, but they probably don’t. The main problem is, IMO, that people are reluctant to show their scripts to anybody who isn’t in a position to help get it made as a film.

Bryan, they knew the professional advice would have been “burn all the film used thus far and send the actors home”. And that’s being generous.

So why do I find myself watching that film whenever it’s on? Tell me, please, why do I torture myself so?

There is a formal and informal network of experts across a variety of tech areas that are tapped by the entertainment industry. If they are on set, they are paid a certain scale; if they offer script feedback or simpler technical coaching - terms to use, etc. - it will be less.

My cite: One of my physicians was the technical consultant for a new TV show starting this season. He is friends with an MD who is a “medical wrangler” - he knows docs in most specialties and connects them with producers who are looking for that medical specialty.

And the posts about not caring are essentially correct - the producers are looking for phrases and behaviors that make their actors sound credible - but the actual application of science and checking on the credulity of plot points was virtually non-existent.

One of the four commentaries on Criterion’s release of Armageddon (I know, I know, don’t say it) is an astrophysicist who chuckles at all the technical errors.

I once consulted on a screen play for a terrible movie about organ thieves. I’d rather not say more, my name was in the credits, an embarrassment to this day.
Even though the writers said they wanted medical accuracy, in the end they chose artistic license.
They couldn’t get by the fact that people rarely get up after being shot, or the reaction to being kicked in the groin is usually vomiting. They were put off by the fact that when someone is badly hurt they cry, or faint or puke. They couldn’t have their hero be so weak.
Accuracy, in the mind of the screen writer, is boring.

Seriously, considering this msg board (fighting ignorance and all), do you think the general public cares, notices or is bothered by factual inaccuracies in movies?
Most people prefer an entertaining lie over a boring fact (witness e-mail lore and factoids). The story is important - how we get there, less so.
Hollywood has some 80 odd years experience telling them that scientific accuracy simply dosn’t matter - so why bother.
I’m with trunk on this. If the story is good, I won’t care that the science is really, really stupid. And if the story is bad - good science wouldn’t save it. I doubt even the worst pickers of nit here would say “Well, the story was crap, the fx sucked, the acting was terrible, the editing jarred… It was a truly awful film, but at least, they got the computer stuff right.”

In general I agree with this - these are works of fiction, and their mandate is to be entertaining. But what counts as a minor issue not worth worrying about for one make really hurt the story for another. When I saw Gladiator I was completely taken out of the story when Maximus was arrested in the midst of his legion’s camp. Ridiculous. A legion has guards posted everywhere at all times, and they’re all loyal first to the legion and its commander. Rome is only a distant second. No way a few Praetorians waltz out of a legion’s camp with the legion’s general under arrest. There was a reason, after all, that legions were forbidden from crossing the Rubicon.

Now, for the vast majority of moviegoers, I’m sure that scene was perfectly plausible. But for me, it took a lot of screentime to re-suspend my disbelief. Does that make me an unsophisticated moviegoer? No, it just means I’m familiar enough with the historical period in question that I’m going to find some discrepencies jarring. That’s not to say that I think moviemakers should put a lot more effort into authenticity. It just annoys me when people bitch about other people having trouble enjoying particularly unauthentic movies.

For the record, any three-masted ship has both a mizzen sail and a foresail.

I read once long ago (sorry, no cite) that Barney Miller was one of the most carefully researched cop shows out there at the time. For instance, they would call up the local precinct to find out if someone arrested for such-and-such crime would be put in cuffs or not. No idea why a comedy would care that much about the small details of reality.

Wurlitzer or Hammond?