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Posted by on Jan 26, 2009 in Hollywood, Media | 0 comments

About that IMDB…

The Internet Movie Database has become the ‘official’ virtual warehouse for movie information, credits, trivia, etc.

But how accurate it is?

Depends on who you ask. In my case, ‘accuracy’ is a subjective term. Early in my career I worked dozens of big-budget films in many capacities, ranging from grip to props guy to locations assistant. But I always aspired to write, produce and direct, and seeing myself credited as ‘Grip #2’ on a bad Dennis Hopper movie was not a priority. In fact, I felt it distracted from the important credits. So I worked to clean my profile on IMDB, which took considerable time and hoop-jumping; the system is notoriously difficult to navigate. (Or at least it was…) It now reflects (most of) the recent work I’ve done in an above-the-line capacity. So technically, my profile is not accurate because it omits many below-the-line jobs. But for practical applications, it’s about as close as it’s going to get without my boot going through the monitor.

There’s another aspect to the IMDB that makes its accuracy suspect. Anyone can claim a position on any film by simply registering and filling out the (damnable) information form. Extras hired to stand in the background suddenly have character names and multiple credits, and Uncle Tony from Kansas, who put a couple of hundred bucks into a student film, is credited as an Executive Producer, even if the film is never show outside his living room at Thanksgiving. A good example of a recent film with dubious credits is Evan Almighty. I worked on the film for three months as a locations assistant, and intentionally omitted it from my profile. I simply don’t need the credit. I know for a fact that hundreds of extras worked the film, and many of them have profiles on IMDB. (See link above.) The conventional wisdom in the movie business dictates that acting credits are earned either through a speaking part or by taking specific direction from the director. Sitting in a gallery of ‘Congresspersons’ two hundred yards in the background is not a movie credit, it’s an extra gig. But such is the life of the struggling actor. Incidentally, when I first started in the business, I worked as an extra on several blockbuster films, to get the hang of the movie sets. You won’t find those credits on my profile either.

That said, the IMDB team has a very difficult job vetting information, and data falls through the cracks, either by accident or design. Over all, they’ve done a good job with the database, and continue to make improvements to the design and layout.

Now that my career is skewed toward the publishing industry, I suspect any updates to my profile will be in the ‘book by’ category.

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