Reshoots, improvising on a massive budget and the search for an ending.

Hollywood once again needs a fix or three. A litany of reshoots are taking place on some big upcoming movies as filmmakers try to tie up loose ends and find some structure in their summer event movies.

Epic zombie drama World War Z has Brad Pitt as star and producer, but it’s taken a full year of filming before someone realised the third act was a bit, well… absent. A full 12 months after the production gleefully spent millions turning Glasgow into a zombified Philadelphia, the World War Z writers are now figuring out how it all ends.

Maybe Hollywood just enjoys working under the pressure of uncertainty. Men in Black 3 was a pretty chaotic shoot with a writer on set in the latter stages to come up with the lines five minutes before the cameras rolled. GI Joe: Retaliation has been pushed back a year for fixing purposes. Then there’s Keanu Reeves’ upcoming action movie 47 Ronin, which industry reports suggest has had issues of its own with individuals on the team who apparently aren’t that familiar with how to actually make an action movie.

Many of these problems make Hollywood sound like an impatient teenager who wants to enjoy the cool filmmaking bits with amazing cameras, sets and multi-storey trailers, but without doing all the hard work that minimises the risk of total catastrophic failure. Beginning with a workable script is often the best idea. Something with a beginning, a middle and an end. They don’t even have to be in that order. They just have to show up.

It’s perhaps just a matter of time before one of these movies threatens to collapse completely. The stressed-out Movie Director will keep the world informed through a series of alarming Facebook updates:

“Day 1: Disaster! We spent millions on expensive location set ups and several massive set builds only to start rolling at 5am realising we had no script. We all went back to our trailers to ponder and play Call of Duty. Messengers have been sent back to the studio. They may be some time. Supplies of sparkling water already dwindling.

“Day 10: Morale is now low. Extensive meetings with the cast and crew have confirmed they DO need a script. We agree that having the actors smile warmly into the camera for two hours of screen-time won’t deliver the drama we’re looking for. I have authorised another set-build in a bid to keep everyone occupied and to lift spirits. Contact from the studio. A team of Right-Ers is working on a script; enormous relief! I’m down to my last packet of Cool Original-flavoured Doritos.

“Day 15: Tragedy! The extra set build has not helped the script problem. Looking at the set makes us all feel better but then my lead actor started to cry as he remembered we have no story. We’re digging in now for the winter. Whispers of buzzwords like ‘character arc’, and ‘dramatic conflict’ are drifting on the wind but we have not the skills to make use of them. The situation is becoming desperate. Supplies of Pringles, Mini Cheddars and Twiglets are diminished. We may have to eat the Key Grip. No-one knows what he does. No-one will miss him.

“Day 24: Despair! I fear we’ve been abandoned by the studio. The Production Designer is suggesting we blow up one of the sets. That would look good on camera. We have eaten the Key Grip.

“Day 32: The producers and I tried to cheer each other up by buying an IMAX camera and a helicopter gunship. We filmed our enormous sets from some really great angles but without a story the footage is a bit vacuous. Still, spending the money was fun so we might do more of that…

“Day 42: Rescue! Our ordeal is over. Right-Ers have created a script of sorts that offers some basic dialogue, dramatic conflict and an action hero called Jack. Then the studio sent me three 30-foot alien robots, a bucket of advanced visual effects and a small dose of marketing genius. Saved!

“PS – Thanks for all the Likes!”

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Nick Goundry
I'm a film journalist and comedy writer. Career highlights so far? Shaking Werner Herzog's hand, disrupting a David Cronenberg interview with an antique Dictaphone and getting chased by the Western Norway Film Commission in a speedboat. I also run the daily news blog at location filming specialist The Location Guide. Drop me a line at