Do you watch the credits?


THE BREAKFAST CLUB, Judd Nelson, Emilio Estevez, Ally Sheedy, Molly Ringwald, Anthony Michael Hall, 1985. ©Universal Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection


By Caitlin Kelly

Loved this piece in The New York Times, an argument in favor of watching the opening credits to TV shows.

I’m also obsessive about watching opening and closing credits, for television and for film.

The opening credits — and carefully chosen music — carefully set a tone for the show that follows. Anyone remember the joyful opening hat-toss of the late Mary Tyler Moore in The Mary Tyler Moore Show?

And its girl-power theme song: “You’re going to make it after all.”

I’ve been watching three dark and powerful TV series this summer — Happy Valley, set in Yorkshire and Succession and Sharp Objects on HBO. In all three, the opening credits, for me, are part of the pleasure, physically and emotionally setting us up for what happens next.

I even got a story out of this obsession once, after watching the final credits for The Namesake, a lovely 2006 film about an East Indian family living in the U.S. The credits revealed that the movie had been shot on location in a town about 10 minutes’ drive from where I live, in a suburban area north of New York City.

I sold a story about the making of the film to The New York Times, and learned all sorts of movie-making arcana, like how difficult it was to find the right hanging dishrack for the kitchen and why so many films and TV shows are made in or close to New York City — thanks to union rules, (and the high cost of paying overtime), if it takes more than an hour to reach a shooting location, door to door (or close to it), it’s deemed too costly.

My father, now retired, is an award-winning documentary film-maker — here’s his Wikipedia entry —  so watching movies and TV shows was a normal part of our lives.


Love this movie!


I got another story idea when I noticed how many recent films had long lists of Hungarian (!?) names in the credits — and discovered that one of the newest and largest film studios is just outside of Budapest.

Variety, which covers the business side of Hollywood, wanted me to do some reporting when I was there in July 2017 but the pay was poor for way too much work, so I just had a good time with my friends instead. (If you’ve seen “BladeRunner 2049”, one pivotal scene is shot inside the city’s former stock exchange and many others were shot on their sound stage there, as was “The Martian.”)

I’m mad for movies, and usually see at least one or two every week, sometimes more — old ones, new ones, watching loved ones over and over. (Just re-watched “The Post” last weekend for the third or fourth time. And, every time I do, I pick up a few more details I missed before.)

I watched “It” on TV recently and was hooting with laughter within the first few frames at a quaint street scene set in a fictional American town — which was in fact Port Hope, Ontario, whose landscape I know very well since my father lived there for four years and we had visited often.

But not a word of it was in the credits!

There you’ll find cool movie jargon for some very specific jobs — and here’s an explainer for 12 of them.


Are you someone who reads the credits?

23 thoughts on “Do you watch the credits?

  1. Not on TV shows but definitely on movies. We’re usually the last folks out of the theater.
    By the way, anyone else irked by how quickly they roll by? I’m capable of speed reading but can’t keep up. It’s frustrating.

  2. Jan Jasper

    Caitlin, Thanks for this! I try to read credits, but they scroll off too fast to allow me to read very much. Wish they’d slow it down. Thanks for the explainer about common jobs – grip, gaffer, Foley artist, etc. Years ago I read about Foley equipment – it’s fascinating. I knew that it’s named after a man named Foley who is now dead. But I didn’t know that he was working waaay back when movies made the transition to sound. About the term gaffer, I enjoy British crime dramas (love ACORN TV!), and I’ve noticed that the highest ranking man in the police department is often called the gaffer, which fits with the definition here, which includes gaffer being the foreman of a work crew,

    1. Love BBC TV and all those crime dramas!

      Foley artists have THE coolest job — I led one of my NYT stories with one who works for Ubisoft making their video games. I loved seeing all his tools and tricks.

  3. i love the credits, they add so much to a film. filling in blanks, info about people, places, music, etc. sometimes they are entertaining in themselves, and i am a huge fan of outtakes as well. at times, when a film has been intense or heavy, they act as a transitional time for me, a time to take it all in, and begin to process what i’ve just seen, before once again heading back out into the world.

    1. Exactly!

      I can’t imagine just rushing out of a film…I try to see them in a cinema, too. Often, the final music adds something quite special and sometimes there’s a fun surprise if you stay to the VERY end of all the credits.

      One of the things I’ve enjoyed, when it’s bio-pic (like Loving and Hidden Figures) they show images of the real people at the very end in the credits.

      I’m always intrigued by how many films not (??) made in Quebec get a Quebec tax credit (maybe by employing X number of Quebec residents?) and other tax incentives from European governments.

      My dream job would be production designer — in awe of their skills. My late stepmother once paid me real $$$$ when I was in high school (!) to dress a set for a TV show she was writing…SO FUN! I took a photo and soaked it in coffee to make it sepia/vintage looking to match the set. I had zero training.

      1. I can totally see you enjoying and thriving in that job. Talk about location ambiguity reminds me of the film ‘grosse point blank.’ Gp is a very wealthy enclave, bordering on Detroit. The only thing shot here was an opening tracking shot from the air, the rest was shot in a Northern California town.)

      2. It’s so funny when you know a place well visually — it’s a cognitive dissonance as you say “Oh, that’s my old subway station!” (as I did with one recent movie.)

  4. I’ve got some credits for you. Even if you don’t watch the movie, the opening credits of Deadpool are worth the price of admission. I watched the whole thing and bought a Blu-ray for good measure. You get a really strong sense of how the movie is going to be (Deeply spiritual with thoughtful, sophisticated humor) just from reading the names of the cast and production team.

  5. My husband always insists on watching the end credits until the last moment for what he calls “a tidbit” — an extra scene or snippet of a scene thrown in the last few seconds of a movie’s track.

  6. Absolutely! Back in the day when I went to theaters, I refused to enter if the credits had already started. Nowadays, like many who have commented, the end credits scroll by way too fast, too small, and too full of “who cares” or “me toos” that never used to be included. So I always cross- reference with IMDB. Opening credits are (or should be treated as ) an art form unto themselves. I once was asked to do some rough designs in my cut paper illustration style for “Romy & Michele’s High School Reunion” but it was aborted early (I may still have the tissue roughs floating around). Still loved the film, and the credits they ended up using 🙂

      1. I wonder…Maybe the unions required it?

        I can see it for union members — but the accountant and the caterer and the drivers? There are dozens of those alone and I DON’T CARE!!!!!

  7. I, too, am a huge fan of movies. I have what I think of as an eclectic taste in them. I’m always intrigued by all the work that must go on to create the scenes. I think it’d be fascinating to spend time on a movie set, shadowing various crew members, like the ones who go hunting for just the right set decor, or the makeup artists. And I have a great appreciation for the openings of some movies or shows: examples would be the opening for the show “Masters of Sex” or “Full Frontal with Samantha Bee”.

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