Ten Helpful Tips From An Industry Veteran
Remember the magic words. A firm handshake and a "thank you" can really cement the bond before you begin sawing into someone's knee joints.
Nobody likes a showoff. Be sure to let the camera catch that small geyser of arterial spray. I've seen hundreds of money shots ruined by an overzealous operator jumping in the way. You've done your job; let the film do its.
Cleanliless counts. Nobody's going to enjoy the production if they're focusing on your grubby fingernails instead of the silky neck you're slowly draining the life out of. Nails trimmed, hair cut, hands washed. It's not just common courtesy: it's common sense.
Treat others how you'd like to be treated. I'll admit this is a tricky guideline. You have to secure them so they won't escape - but don't chafe their ankles and wrists. Blood flow is, of course, vital to our profession - if they complain that their arms or legs are falling asleep, reposition them as best you can. And, above all, don't mock your star - it's their big moment, and they should feel like a special part of the production, and not just a disemboweled deformity hog-tied to a coffee table.
A little mood music goes a long way. I'm a bit of a nostalgic - it's "Stuck In The Middle With You" for me every time. But maybe you like Sinatra's lonely man records, or some Boston Pops Beethoven. Lots of goth-industrial types lay it on real thick - but that just makes you feel dirty while you're trying to enjoy a good kneecap removal surgery. So keep it light and fanciful.
Look them squarely in the eye. Again, this for the comfort of the viewers. When they can see the special connection between you and your star, it's relaxing. Then they can really focus on the exposed viscera, and not the screams for mercy.
Dialogue, not monologue. It's important that the star gets most of the screen time for obvious reasons. But all too often you'll find amateur snuffers explaining the action in boring detail ("I have clipped the tendon just below the elbow, and the bone should snap - *crack* - just so") instead of letting the scene explore itself. Go ahead and ask your star how they're feeling, what the sensations are like. They can be pretty noisy and rambling (first timer's stage fright), so try to get them to focus on one particular thing, be it the thin celice of iron embedded in their thigh or the faint sounds of a chainsaw coming from the room next door.
Keep all conduct professional. Don't use your star's name, don't explain some pithy incident that "brought this upon them" - you really want to keep the mystery alive. It's not just that it adds to the surreality of the impromptu castration; it's all about boundaries. Acting inappropriately on repeated occasions will even get you thrown out of the Guild.
Smile! While acting professional is paramount to a successful snuff, there's no harm in a good strong smile. It's the universal friendly gesture, and nobody wants to watch an operator drench themselves in the blood of two nubile stars while wearing a frown or scowl - so cheer up, you grumpy Gus!
Always leave the place nicer than you found it. The camera's been put away, the floor's been disinfected, the remains are in the jars, so what now? Wash the chloroform out of the rags. Put all the ropes and knives back where you found them. Pack some potpourri along with all of that bleach and TSP. And what about the ceiling? It really pays to check to everything twice. (A great reader tip: CM from California writes, "Ending up with only 19 fingers and toes was always a real pain! My solution: bring along an empty hot dog package for easy tracking." Great idea!)
Questions? Comments? More helpful hints? Send all correspondence to GG c/o Jamie Walko, 128 E 31st St, New York, Ny 12321.