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They're filling in the blanks

August 03, 2003|Michael T. Jarvis

Brian Kirk, a mild-mannered graphic designer, says he was creating a mock Web page three years ago using a photo from the movie "Swingers" when something went awry and "I accidentally pasted the background over their faces and it made the characters invisible."

Where some would have simply pressed "undo" and gone on, Kirk was intrigued and started showing the results around. "All of my friends liked them, but they didn't see what I could do with it for a Web site," says Kirk, 35, a creative director for a Bay Area start-up company.

An idea soon filled the void. He and a friend, Jim Balquist, decided to create a Web quiz site that lets players guess who's missing from memorable films. The result can be found at, which features hundreds of photos from films -- minus the actors -- with plenty of empty suits.

While Spider-Man may be the most obvious missing person on the site, even some of the best-known images, such as Tom Hanks' white suit in "Forrest Gump," can be tricky. "We have a lot of people who will get maybe one right," Kirk says. "Then they see the answers and think, 'I could have gotten this.'"

Some entries are extremely easy, like the scene where Sharon Stone uncrosses her legs in "Basic Instinct." More difficult is the quiz in the "I See Naked People" section, where famous nude scenes leave everything to the imagination (although the shower scene from "Porky's" is unmistakable). In the "Visual Quizzes" section, key props from films are erased -- think "Speed" without its airborne bus. And "Text Quizzes" dispenses with photos entirely, with such categories as "Taking Orders," which shows fragments of dialogue and asks visitors to figure out who was ordering, say, the Tab or the Winky Dinky Dog.

FilmWise hasn't been hassled by the major studios for using the stills -- but then, maybe a movie still without its stars doesn't make much of a stir.

The site is not making any money, but the technique has endless possibilities, says its optimistic "founder," who is now repped by the William Morris Agency. "We have hopes to do something for profit, maybe a TV show."

-- Michael T. Jarvis

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