New museum exhibit goes behind the scenes and behind the camera :::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::::photo courtesy of Scott Brownwell, Museum of Science and Industry Families watch other museum goers participate in making "Escape from Zircon" as part of the new Museum of Science and Industry exhibit.
Tired of watching movies? Try making them. Imagine this: A long row of bright, florescent studio lights beams down on you as you sit in a Parisian café with someone you've never met. Behind the large camera in front of you is about 30 people, suddenly from the shadows a woman shouts: "Action!"
This is just part of the Museum of Science and Industry's new exhibit, "Action: An Adventure in Moviemaking."
"There are theme park attractions and glitzy museums which only show the wow, but they don't show you how or why." says John Beckman, the exhibit's curator. "We want to put the how behind the wow."
The $2.6 million, 12,000 foot exhibit at the museum, 57th Street and Lake Shore Drive, is a behind-the-scenes look at movie-making for families.
(Parents be warned: There are scary masks, including a graphic decomposing head progression, and a presentation on how movie makeup can change an average-looking man into a monstrous, puss-oozing zombie. You be the judge, but this is probably best for kids age 8 or above.)
Divided into several parts, you begin the exhibit by passing through thick soundstage doors to a small theatre. There you see a short film made for the exhibit and hosted by award-winning director Ridley Scott, whose credits include, "Alien," "Thelma & Louise" and "Black Hawk Down." Scott, on the set of his latest production, tells viewers about the many people required to make a movie, from script writers to best boys, key grips, makeup designers and storyboard technicians. Scott's message is simple: If you have the passion to follow your dream, fame and money can follow.
"We want kids and parents to be inspired about potential career paths in movies," says Beckman. "There are so many people involved with movies, it's not just about the star and the director ... there's a team of very talented collaborators behind movies."
As you walk through the rest of the exhibit, you learn how an Oscar is made, take a personality test to see which actor you are most similar to and hear a presentation on movie sound. The main attraction, however, is making a movie.
Audience members are plopped down in a Parisian cafe to make "Escape from Zircon" on a soundstage-a huge room packed with costumes and cameras.
A small woman seated in a director's chair calls for volunteers to play the protagonists, grabs the extras and recruits the behind-the-camera crew. The audience goes scene by scene for half an hour making the movie, and then previews their work while hearing information on what narration, effects editing and storyboard design does to the final product.
"I loved watching the video of the movie we did. It was funny to watch all the stuff put together and see how it works," says visitor, Mark Dore, 10. Mark's mother, Tamra Dore, also gave it a thumbs up. "It is a lot of fun to do as a family," she says looking through the exhibit's gift shop. "And there are parts for all different ages. They'll learn something about all that goes on in a movie."
On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, you can meet industry professionals, including actors, animal trainers, directors, costume designers and makeup artists, check the schedule on the museum's Web site, www.actionexhibit.org.
If you just want to watch a film, come to the museum's lawn at 7 p.m. July 28 for "Shrek." Also, check with your local park district to see if it has an outdoor family film festival. In Chicago, visit www.chicagoparkdistrict.com.