"Phantom Crew"

So recently I've been hearing about this trend of putting fake names into the credits of a feature... people who didn't work on the project at all. Sometimes friends of the producers, but sometimes people who don't even exist.
Has anyone else heard of this phenomenon? What's the reasoning behind it (besides doing favors to friends by getting their names in credits)? Is it a funding thing? Landing in a different category in the festival circuit?
Anyone know about this "phantom crew" thing?


  • Just spitballing, but could be to inflate the apparent size of the crew. Make the feature seem like a larger enterprise instead of a handful of people doing multiple jobs.

  • Hello, Well. It could be a way to try to deceive whoever funded the project. I.e., "Our budget was so large, because we had 6 people in wardrobe." When they only had 2.


  • I've heard of it happening in the other direction, people adding their names to large crews that they didn't work on in order to inflate their own résumé, but this is the first I'm hearing of a "phantom crew."

    I'd agree with Martin and Jeff. If a film is so small that costumes can be handled by one person, or G&E is just two, then there are serious questions/doubts about the film's production quality. It's a red flag for distributors/sales agents so I'd imagine that inflating the crew makes the budget seem higher. Also, managing a larger budget is more difficult, so having a bigger crew makes it seem like the Producer's job was harder.

  • Perhaps a union person is working a non-union job and uses an alias to avoid being caught.

  • The movie "Fargo" did it.

  • Interesting, I've not run across this happening. Seems like Jeff and Martin nailed it though. I can't think of another reason someone would want to add phantom crew.

  • It can also be a crew joke, I've seen it on many many projects...
    Sometimes, I go by Cesar Soundchez.

  • As an editor, I have had to do this on every feature I've edited.. Usually because it looks cheesy to have one person who has so many hats on the production to be listed as such... Also, some crew just gets a kick out of seeing their made up name in the credits.. My last sound guy was Lucifer Whiskerbiscuits..

  • Never heard of this. Have heard of crew members such as directors or DOP's using fake names (Alan Smithee) as a protest when they have a conflict with the production company.

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