All The Producers Do Not Love Sarah Lane

By March 12, 2011Opinions

Bonus points to anyone recognizing my title joke.

Right, so we all know that Natalie had a ballet double for Black Swan and that any time the camera is focused on just feet or leg work, it’s not Natalie. Along with that, Natalie’s face was digitally inserted in one or two full body shots where the double, Sarah Lane, was doing really complicated feet work that would be impossible for a non ballerina.

We all know this because it has been mentioned plenty of times. But Sarah feels that it hasn’t been mentioned enough and she’s not getting the credit she deserves for her work on the film, although the author of this Magazine Dance article seems even more upset than Sarah.

She feels slighted that Natalie didn’t mention her at the Oscars – I guess that’s one down side to naming more people than other winners, those who then aren’t mentioned feel shafted. But she did thank more below the line crew than any recent winners that I can recall.

The author of the article also feels that Sarah deserved a more prominent placement in the credits, but she is credited for her acting work in the cast credits, despite only appearing in a tiny scene as herself. A few lines down from the cast she is mentioned again under stunts, which is exactly what her job entailed and is positioned exactly where stunts are always positioned in credits.

I have a bit more sympathy for the final two issues. Sarah says that the producers asked her to not give interviews until after the Oscars and a vfx featurette initially included a quick shot of the digital face swap, but a later release of the featurette had that shot removed.

That is a bitter pill to swallow, but this is the business. The work of stunt people is supposed to be as invisible as possible, but not coming from that world I guess Sarah was not used to that “team player” way of thinking.

Making it even more of a prerogative for the Black Swan producers was the fact that this was a film with Oscar ambitions, and Oscar campaigns can get really dirty. Sadly, the work is only half the story, the other half is creating a perception and a narrative that will help your film get votes.

So this past awards season there is the whole Melissa Leo backlash, there was the Mark Zuckerberg had a girlfriend angle, there was the Royal family wanted to appease Hitler articles…I don’t blame the producers for being worried that a rival studio would try to start their own “Natalie did none of the dancing” narrative.

In any case, now that the Oscars are over, I’m sure Sarah’s involvement will become more widely known and recognized, particularly with the DVD release. Surely that is what is most important, along with the fact that the ballet world has received a great amount of attention because of the film


Author Dazza

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Join the discussion 12 Comments

  • Juan234 says:

    We know that Natalie didn’t do the complicated full-body shots, but did the academy? It may have just been one or two shots, but the shot in the featurette was the one used in all the promos and trailers for the movie. Honestly, even I had a different perspective on Natalie’s dance contributions after seeing that video.

    I guess that’s show business, but Natalie gets so many accolades, it’d be nice if they could spread them around a bit.

  • omgzrachel says:

    I’m sure the academy knew there were stunt doubles used in the film. Black Swan was low budget and a lot of the CGI on the head replacements looked kind of jank. It was obvious to my untrained eye. I think they were judging more than two brief scenes that were not exactly showcasing Natalie’s performance in the first place. It wasn’t a dance movie after all.

  • jesslv74 says:

    I can see her point. I didn’t even think about that until now and am actually kind of surprised that it didn’t pop into my head. In a way it is one the most important roles in the film. They wouldn’t have those great shots if it weren’t for her. However, Sarah did do a lot of work but she didn’t have to “re-learn” some ballet and put as much work into training as Natalie, nor do all of the grueling acting. A double in a few scenes pales into comparison to all that Natalie did.

    And like Rachael said, the academy is not dumb and it was not a dance movie. I could see it being more of a big deal if it was ABOUT dancing itself, but dancing was used more as a backdrop for the actual meaning of the story. It could have been set in any competitive world in which people are pushed hard and sacrifice their lives for what they want to their own detriment. I don’t even think of it as a “movie about ballet.” Still, I think it might have been nice to get a mention at the Oscars since it was the end of the season.

  • jesslv74 says:

    Oh, the joke…”Nobody Doesn’t Like Sarah Lee.”

  • dazza says:

    Nope. All The Boys Love Mandy Lane.

  • Jenski says:

    I honestly don’t get the big deal. It’s not like Portman was credited with doing the bits Sarah Lane did. It was stated in almost every interview that Portman did some dancing not all of it, and that the most complicated bits were done by the other girl.

    This reminds me of the fuss kicked up over the costumes; the costume designer got most of the praise while Rodarte was credited with the ballet costumes, which pissed them off for some reason. If Lane didn’t understand her function within the movie, that’s unfortunate but it’s hardly as if she was snubbed. I’m sure there were lots of other people that worked on that movie that didn’t get thanked in Natalie’s acceptance speech (did she thank all the writers, for instance?).

  • omgzrachel says:

    I don’t either. I don’t know why people are focusing so much on these two or three scenes out of an entire film when it was already pretty obvious that it wasn’t Natalie doing the dancing in them. It’s shitty Sarah Lane didn’t get any recognition, but like Dazza said, that’s pretty much the norm for stunt people.

  • AMSSERME says:

    I admit that Sarah Lane should have been given credit for her performance,but we must remember Natalie was nervous,emotional almost at the brink of tears during her acceptance speech with little time to spare at the oscars.It would have been impossible to mention everybody,but she did generalized all who contributed for the success of Black Swan.I think it’s Fox Searchlight responsability to give credit to all those who participated in the film,not Natalie.

  • Nannina says:

    It’s kind of like the guy playing the other Vinklevoss twin in Social Network (great special effects by Light Stage there by the way) only on a much smaller level.

    The point article makes about singers is just wrong though. They say no one is surprised to hear that Natalie Wood and Audrey Hepburn weren’t doing their own singing in West Side Story and My Fair Lady. That may be true now, but at the time the contributions of Marni Nixon (who did both) were actively hidden. I have an LP of the soundtrack of West Side Story… the SOUNDTRACK so Natalie Wood and Richard Beymer (who played Tony) had nothing what-so-ever to do with it. Their names are in big letters both on the cover and inside, guess where Marni Nixon and Jimmy Bryant are credited. They are not mentioned. They sing half of the songs on the album, and their names do not appear anywhere. That’s how it is. Is it fair? No, but even today it takes a long time to find the name of the opera singer who sang for Minnie Driver in Phantom of the Opera on the IMDb page.

    Movies are illusions and while promoting them the people who are selling them don’t want to break that. Many people honestly believe actors when they claim to do their own stunts, that is part of the P.R. that actors are contractually obliged to do, but really most insurance companies won’t insure a movie where the lead is doing their own stunts. I think Natalie handled the whole thing well. She never claimed that there was no double, but she did what she needed to do to promote the movie, which was to emphasize the amount of work she did on the dancing. And I do believe she did do a lot… she just didn’t become a professional ballet dancer in a year and a half.

  • preterNATural says:

    Spot on, Nannina. Sorry Sarah, but it’s the nature of your job and the business. She should be grateful to have been a relatively small part of such a successful film. I’m sure it’s a highlight on her resume.

  • natasc says:

    Frankly, I believe the ballet part was important, but for me the big acting part was to see Natalie’s face expression during the film.
    How she transforms.
    Yes the ballet is important, but not as much as the real acting part….for me at least.

  • celia says:

    Eh. I agree that Sarah is going to get a lot of attention on the dvd. I’m sure the commentary will have lots of bits about her work. Besides, Natalie was totally nervous and did a great job with her speech. Someone is ALWAYS left out. And she didn’t win the Oscar for dancing. It isn’t a Tony. She won it for the ridiculously good acting.
    I’d be proud just to be the dancer. Like everyone’s said…we all knew she had a double at times and as great as the dancing is…it’s hardly the POINT of the movie (I could’ve punned that up and said “pointe” har har).
    Bitching about the credits is ridiculous. She’s placed where she should have been. Be thankful you had this opportunity that is now permanently on your resume. By complaining about it, you could be losing a phone call to a producer or even Darren or Ben (as the choreographer)for a big performance and they might warn the next job that diva behavior ensued. Not smart.