Director Chris Columbus shot more footage for Mrs Doubtfire than Francis Ford Coppola shot for Apocalypse Now.
The 1993 comedy Mrs Doubtfire proved to be one of the very biggest hits of the much-loved and much-missed Robin Williams’ career. Directed by Chris Columbus and famous in the UK for the muddle over its BBFC certificate – that we’ve charted here – it’s a film that’s very much endured. To the point where there’s now a hit musical based on the movie.
Chris Columbus has been chatting about the movie in an interesting new piece for Business Insider, and he’s unsurprisingly revealed that Williams did an awful lot of improvisation on the movie. So much so that, well, more material was shot for Mrs Doubtfire than Francis Ford Coppola shot for Apocalypse Now.
This was the days before digital filming of course, and thus magazines of film tended to run for ten to 11 minutes at a time. A lot of magazines were burned through, as Williams would give Columbus three or four versions of what was in the screenplay, and then would be allowed to let rip. Sometimes to the point where the camera ended up running out of film.
“It got to the point”, reflects Columbus, “that I had to shoot the entire movie with four cameras to keep up with him”.
Over two million feet of film would be shot, and Columbus was keeping one camera trained on Williams, and then one on the other actors too, just to make sure he got any reactions.
“There are roughly 972 boxes of footage from Doubtfire — footage we used in the movie, outtakes, behind-the-scenes footage — in a warehouse somewhere and we would like to hire an editor to go in and look at all of that footage”, Columbus told the outlet. He added that the plan is at some point to take that material and shape it into some kind of documentary feature.
No idea when we’re getting that feature, but that sounds like a very sizeable warehouse.
It’s a really interesting article that’s been put together, and you can find it here. And you can listen to out podcast on the making of Mrs Doubtfire below these very words…