How’d They Do That?

How’d They Do That? is a monthly column in which Meg Shields unpacks moments of movie magic and celebrates the technical wizards who pulled them off.

If you’re new to reading this column, we suggest starting with these entries:

Explore the entire How’d They Do That? archive below

The Godfather Squibs

A Brief, Bloody History of How Gunshot Squibs Work


Small, but mighty: here’s everything you’ve ever wanted to know about squibs.

Commandments Red Sea Parting

How They Parted the Red Sea in ‘The Ten Commandments’


“Let my people Jell-O”

Cliffhanger Airplane Zipline Stunt

How They Shot the Plane Zip-Line Stunt in ‘Cliffhanger’


We’ve heard of tight flight connections but this is just ridiculous.

Deliverance Waterfall Burt Reynolds

Man vs Waterfall: The ‘Deliverance’ Stunt That Broke Burt Reynolds


“Insurance? I don’t believe in insurance.”

The Devils Rain Corbis

How They Shot The Melting Effects in ‘The Devil’s Rain’


The weather’s calling for a 100% chance of … the Devil’s Rain!

Das Boot Flooding Submarine

In the Belly of the Beast: How They Shot ‘Das Boot’


“Mildew is good for you. It’s the next best thing to fresh lettuce. Be thankful for what grows down here.”

The Grand Budapest Hotel Bokeh

The Casual Film Lover’s Guide to the Bokeh Effect


If it ain’t bokeh don’t fix it.

Sh The Octopus Transformation

How They Shot That Transformation Scene in ‘Sh! The Octopus’


From a harmless old woman to a gnarled, blotchy sea hag in the blink of an eye!

Jeopardy Shot in The Gold Rush (1925)

From Painted Glass to Green Screens: The Jeopardy Shot Explained


Let’s talk about the glass shot. (No, not the kind you pour tequila into).