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Troubled Production

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"The enemy is a prop that doesn't work. A guest star who can't say the word "soup". Another who can't say the word "phenomenon". Writing the stage direction "Beach in Paradise", and finding yourself on a wet winter day in Rhyl. The enemy is reality, and reality is, unfortunately, everywhere."
Grant Naylor, Red Dwarf: The Least Worst Scripts

Sometimes, no matter the quality of the work itself, it just takes the creators so much effort and heartbreak to make it that at the end of it all, they can be forgiven for wondering to themselves, "Was It Really Worth It?"

These sort of productions tend to range from complete disasters to slightly more benign ones, but what they always have in common is frayed tempers and patience, screw-ups, delays, and breakdowns. Reality Subtext may happen too. A Prima Donna Director usually ensures that things end up disastrous (especially if he just got his Auteur License and his ego is on full force). Both Protection from Editors and Executive Meddling can exacerbate this phenomenon. Plagues like The Spanish Flu or the COVID-19 Pandemic can also strike during an inopportune time in development, forcing the crew to set production back by weeks or even months. Epic Movies are particularly vulnerable to this, especially if Hostile Weather strikes the set. This trope always applies to small or start-up studios, due to how little experience the show runners or head businessmen have in running a new one.

Troubled Productions frequently will end up with a final product that:

It should be noted that most works involve some degree of chaos, the natural result of trying to accomplish a creative output with the support staff the size of an army. Some of these productions require some outside leader to push through the insanity and get the work done. Knowing more of how it turned out tends to make people admire the creators even more. Hey, look, they went through all this bullshit that would make a normal dude probably give up and still made something great! However you look at it, the insanity behind it tends to contribute to the quality of the finished product, in one way or another. It's exceedingly rare for a troubled production to result in a So Okay, It's Average product.

A few of those overlap with (and may often lead to) Development Hell and Vaporware, which is having trouble on starting the project. Others enter The Shelf of Movie Languishment after being finished. In the music industry, this can overlap with Music Is Politics, where the politics of the industry leads to this trope. If a Fortean or allegedly supernatural dimension creeps in, it may escalate into a case of The Production Curse. Hard-to-Adapt Work is one common reason for troubled productions.

See also Movie-Making Mess, the smaller-scale, amateur version of this; and Not in My Backyard!, who can turn any public works project into this.

As mentioned, a lot of the examples here tend to be famous for their quality, good or bad.



Video Example(s):

Alternative Title(s): Troubled Development


Toy Story's Black Friday

John Lasseter and other Pixar regulars explain the difficult process of creating Toy Story, and how the disastrous Black Friday cut of the movie came to be and almost killed the whole project.

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