If The Menutaught me anything, it's that looks can be deceiving. In a film focused on the doomed dining of the elite, The Menu’s clean and crisp cinematography leaves us in this odd satirical space where the audience doesn’t know what is real and what is fake.

This idea and theme couldn’t be more true when we look at the film’s opening shot.

In a recent interview with Filmmaker Magazine, The Menu cinematographer Peter Deming revealed that the opening close-up of Margot’s face was stock footage rather than footage they shot on the Sony VENICE.

Deming recalled when he noticed that the film stock made it into the film, saying, “When I saw the first cut, I was like, ‘Oh, that’s interesting. They got a stock shot that fit into the movie.’”

The original shot Deming and his team captured was a 45-degree downward angle shot of a first in the water with fish oil around it, the dock, and the people’s reflection in the water. It turned out to be a complicated shot that Deminig eventually got.

Why didn’t it make the film? Deming believes that the shot might have been off-putting or disgusting for the test screenings. The solution to making the movie more appealing from the first shot was stock footage.

Deming revealed that the more he looked at the shot in the film, “the more I had issues with it.” So, why did the stock shot stay?

“Thematically, it’s a perfect way to start the movie,” Deming said. “There are some technical issues with the shot itself, which I won’t bring up, but no one notices it. Even I didn’t notice [those issues] the first two or three times I saw it. It wasn’t until we got into the color correction on the film and I was like, ‘….wait a minute.’ (laughs).”

Stock footage isn’t a bad tool to use, yet it often has a bad rep in the film community. The truth is that Hollywood loves to use stock footage when they can because it is easy, inexpensive, and doesn’t look half-bad. 

Instead of thinking of stock footage as a filmmaking cheat, think of it as a safety net for filmmakers who may not have the budget or the time to capture the needed shot. Rather than spending the money, time, and energy for a close-up of someone smoking, stock footage is there for an expensive price (or free depending on the site you use) so you can spend time frying bigger fish.

Could you tell the difference? Let us know in the comments below!

Source: Filmmaker Magazine