Tag Archives: Film

James Cameron “Titanic” Post-Production Horror Story

Main Piece:

JK: “So there’s this story of a guy who was working on the foley for the ‘Titanic’ movie with James Cameron that’s become this like legendary story in the audio world. Not sure how exact it is, but I’ll tell it how I remember.”
Me: “That’s perfect.”
JK: “Okay, so, supposedly the [foley] guy had been working on creating the sound for this sequence for a while and was going into a review with James. And obviously being near completion, weeks of work have gone into this.”
Me: “Right”
JK: “And James walked in to check out the scene, the dude presses play in ProTools. They’re sitting there, watching the scene, there’s all the sound- he’s watching it. James leans over, and he hits Command+A on the keyboard, then the delete key… and then Command+S. Closes the project, and walks out.”
Me: “Did he say anything?!”
JK: “I’ve heard some people say he did, but most say he walked out silent. [Again] not sure but it seems like it would be, and everyone I know believes it.”


The informant works in the audio industry for voice over, sound mixing, mastering, etc. This story was told amongst co-workers at a larger audio company he was working for at the time and moved quickly from shock-gossip to legend status.


While I was receiving a recounting of it over the phone, it was most commonly exchanged as a recognition of the maltreatment of people in their industry by the big shots. Knowledge of the story provides a certain wisdom and a sense of community with the other audio engineers on your level.


Stories like these in an industry that can be very cut throat because of certain unsavory individuals seem to serve as a reminder that everyone is there to make good art, but also to work and interact with others as human beings. Obviously, it is a stab at James Cameron’s character but also between the lines almost mocks his performative seriousness. Finally, having done work myself in audio and with music, losing project data is always the worst possible thing to happen. You will never really be able to re-create what you’ve done exactly how you had it before, and it can be extremely discouraging. This legend also serves as a lesson to always keep backups of your work. Because if it’s not a crash or a weird glitch that comes for your data, it’s a self-righteous director.



The informant is a sophomore studying Film Production at USC.

Main Piece:

“Yeah, we usually call things by like, their names, but I guess it’s not technically their names either… like how those fresnels are ‘tweenies’ or ‘baby baby’ or something. Oh, you know what’s the stupidest one? C-47s. Like, I just want to know who came up with that one, it’s so dumb.”


I asked my informant about any specific terms they’ve heard on film sets. The “C-47s” that the informant mentions is jargon for clothespins on film sets. Fresnels are a specific type of light.


This is an example of occupational folklore. To an outsider, using these terms may be confusing, but within film sets, this jargon is generally standard knowledge, though there are variations depending on regions. In usage, one would generally hear jargon in a conversational setting (eg. “Can you hand me a C-47?” “Can you set up a tweenie?”) There are a variety of stories and reasons why the word “C-47” is used for clothespins, probably the biggest one is that it’s much shorter and more informal to use. Personally, I think the word itself is a bit pretentious (and the informant also mentions that), but people will generally still throw around the term because it’s more in use.

Double-Cross Blunt and Other Shaped Blunts

This friend knows a lot about marijuana, and on Halloween (a few days after his birthday) he made a double-cross blunt or a large blunt with two smaller blunts inserted at the far end. The goal is that the smoker will get two friends to light all ends of the blunt so that the smoker gets an initial rush of smoke. This rush of smoke is more powerful than smoking a single blunt, and the idea was first shared in the movie Pineapple Express.

“Basically, it’s this guy, who’s a process server. That’s Seth Rogen, by the way. And then this is James Franco… And then there’s Danny McBride, who’s read and he’s this kind of comedic in the movie. But in the beginning of the movie, when Dale when Seth Rogen picks up his weed from James Franco. James Franco goes, Oh, Bro, I got this sweet Pineapple Express. And you know, like, Oh, they said the name of the movie. But he’s like, Oh, I who am I gonna smoke this cross joint with? I need two people. Because you need three lighters to light the joint. You need to light all three tips. I needed somebody to light the first two tips on the double cross joint and then like the other two for me as I lifted the front.”

There is no religious association with the blunt.

The speaker continued to explain that there are all sorts of shaped blunts (note: a blunt is not the same as a joint). There are turkey-shaped blunts and tarantula blunts (the legs or ‘feathers’ are additional blunts).

When asked what this double-cross blunt meant to him, the speaker said, “You’re smoking with two boys, or whoever’s there. But like, you’re just chilling out. You’re having a good time you’re smoking.”


I know that this piece was important to the speaker and he was very proud of his double-cross blunt. I do not smoke but it is interesting to see that there is an art to creating blunts and edibles (this speaker also creates cannabis butter from sativa which he then uses to make very strong edibles.) Because this speaker has knowledge of weed, I respect him more than were he just a regular ‘stoner.’

In this example, the speaker learned about the cross blunt from the film Pineapple Express, but this tradition is seen in other online weed forums and even Pinterest boards. Lighting the blunt is a group activity because the speaker cannot light all ends of the blunt at once. Adding the double cross shows that the speaker has improved the movie’s version of the blunt, and it allows for multiplicity and variation.

La Llorona

Main Text

La Llorona is a story about this grieving, um, it’s a grieving mom who lost her children, and that, she goes around taking kids from, from other families, screaming, “¡Ay! Mis niños, ¿donde están?” which translates to, “Oh! My kids, where are they?” You know what, you know he’s just—she’s, they’re looking for them, because. They died or, they were lost.


The subject is a 21-year-old Mexican American in his third year at USC. He recalls first hearing the legend of La Llorona at around the age of four or six. Through childhood, he was frequently told the story of La Llorona by his parents as a form of discipline. If he or his siblings misbehaved, their parents said that La Llorona would come and take them away. The subject mentions that this usage of La Llorona as a form of parental discipline was common in every Mexican-American household, along with corporal punishment via the chancla (a flip-flop) or the belt. In terms of disciplinary severity, the subject as a child would have considered La Llorona to be less of a threat than the chancla and the belt. The subject stopped believing in the literal existence of La Llorona around the age of seven, eight, or nine—around the same time, he says, that most children realize that Santa Claus isn’t real.


Growing up, the subject often discussed the legend of La Llorona with other Mexican American children in his hometown of Van Nuys. The purpose of such discussion was less to ascertain whether La Llorona was real, and more to affirm a shared folk experience of being disciplined by parents in the same manner. He felt that only other Mexican Americans would understand the normalcy of the disciplinary method, rather than reacting judgmentally and mischaracterizing the discipline as a form of child abuse.

Over time, the subject’s childhood fear associated with La Llorona dulled into nostalgia, and he began to view La Llorona as a central part of his cultural history. Based on this current perception, the subject says that he finds it fascinating the legend was even used as a disciplinary tactic to begin with. He characterizes its use as a disciplinary tactic as “negative”—as the opposite of how he believes folklore like La Llorona ought to be used. He thinks folklore like La Llorona should be used as a “positive” way to build a shared sense of cultural identity through the passing down of traditions.

Another “positive” use of La Llorona, the subject argues, is for entertainment. The subject mentions an instance when his Spanish teacher showed the class a cartoon adaptation of La Llorona, to give the class a simple task to occupy their attention on a relatively work-free day. The class, which was majority Latino, was familiar with the legend; as such, the teacher had offer little explanation for what the plot of the story was. The subject especially enjoyed the video retelling of La Llorona because of its “authenticity,” which he defined in terms of aesthetic choices, such as including all the major motifs in the legend (e.g. the river, the ghostly spirit), and casting Mexican voice actors who spoke Spanish with a proper Mexican accent.

Interviewer’s Analysis

When asked to elaborate on what constituted “authenticity” in folklore adaptation, the subject compared the La Llorona video to the Scooby Doo film, The Monster of Mexico, which he felt portrayed both an inauthentic version of the Chupacabra (another legendary Mexican monster), and an inauthentic version of Mexico. The Monster of Mexico made the Chupacabra look like Bigfoot, characterized Mexicans through stereotypical sombreros and maracas iconography, and most condemnably, featured an all-white cast. For the subject, authenticity in Mexican folklore adaptation hinged on the folklore not being whitewashed. Here, the interviewer asked the subject how one might strike a balance between fighting the hegemony of whitewashed folklore, and not establishing a new hegemony by claiming to have a singularly authoritative “authentic” interpretation.

Briefly, hegemony is defined as the total control over the terms of a narrative. The subject replied that he didn’t think ought to be a singularly authoritative authenticator for adaptations of folklore. In the context of Latino folklore, the subject suggested that his concern was less with defining authenticity, than fostering a sense of accountability. He didn’t want people to create adaptations of Latino folklore for a mainstream general audience, without creators being mindful of what portrayals of Latino culture they could potentially misinform non-Latinos with.

While the subject’s answer certainly adds nuance to defining the boundary between artificially authoritative authenticity and hegemony, the question of where that boundary is still remains—and, in the interviewer’s opinion, cannot be answered without defining what precisely “whitewashing” is. Is whitewashing the same as Americanization? Who defines and authenticates what is American, when America houses multiple types of cultures? What counts as “white” culture? Is any insertion of “white” culture into a historically nonwhite folklore adaptation automatically considered whitewashing? For instance, in the La Llorona video, the children are portrayed as trick-or-treaters, to appeal to a broader American audience—does that count as whitewashing?

These questions are complicated, and any definition of “whitewashing” for the purposes of evaluating “authenticity” of folklore will inevitably struggle to cover every scenario. Perhaps a more appropriate starting point, would be to consider folklore adaptation in terms of social power structures. What cultures does one group get a “pass” to freely adapt from? Who authenticates the “pass” under what circumstances? How do dynamics play out when authenticity gets contested?  Who is contesting authenticity, under what definition, and why?

Movie Quote Passes Into Normal Speech

Main Piece

The following is often quoted in the informant’s family: “You fall behind, you get left behind.”

For the origin and correct wording of this proverb–like quote, see Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl. Directed by Gore Verbinski, Walt Disney Pictures, 2003.



Nationality: American

Location: Connecticut

Language: English

The informant’s immediate family say this to each other “all the time” whenever someone is moving too slow. The informant’s family first learned the quote together while watching Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl, but the quote is no longer a reference to the film, as it has become a regular part of their speech pattern. It functions like a proverb.


The informant and their family misquoted the line. The actual line is “Any man who falls behind is left behind.”


The interchange between media and folklore is exhibited here and is very interesting. The quote is not really a proverb, but it is not really fakelore either, because the film did not do anything intentional to pass it off as fakelore. It is interesting how misquoted lines are themselves something of a folklore genre; one of the most famous movie quotes of all time, from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back is “No, I am your father,” but it is usually misquoted as “Luke, I am your father.”