Mr. Weiss said that he had doubts at first about working with Gary Ross, who directed âOceanâs 8,â and with Olivia Milch, who is credited with the screenplay. Mr. Weiss said that Mr. Ross came across as over the top at their first meeting. âI thought he was putting me on, that I was getting a Hollywood job when he said how great the Met was and how great the building was,â Mr. Weiss said. âAs the conversation unfolded, I realized that he is formidably smart, he knows our collection and heâs a serious intellectual with a love of art. I was persuaded he meant it.â
âAfter that,â Mr. Weiss said, âI was skeptical they would do everything they said. But they did do everything they said they would do.â
Or, as Mr. Weiss also said, âWe always worry, because itâs our job to worry.â In the production notes for the film, Mr. Ross was quoted as saying, âI called âsafetyâ meetings for the art, as we would for a major stunt. I mean, literally, one false move and youâve wrecked more than the budget of the movie. So we had to be very, very careful.â
Mr. Weiss, who presides over a staff of more than 2,000, was intrigued by the behind-the-scenes show that unfolded, night after night. âI was fascinated to see how a director makes a major motion picture â how you keep a narrative thread when youâre commanding hundreds of people,â he said.
Mr. Ross, he said, was fascinated by something else: âHe wanted to talk about art.â And the movieâs production notes quote Ms. Bullock as saying the cast took advantage of where they were: âIn between shots, you could walk around and take in the museum in a way youâd never taken it in before â just stop and look at a piece of art, inspect it and observe the brush strokes. We had two weeks to just savor everything.â
But if they were savoring, Ms. Schear, the Met production manager, was working, and watching. âItâs fun and itâs glitzy,â Ms. Schear said, âbut weâre not watching the cast, weâre watching the crew and the equipment. Most of what they shot, they used a camera on wheels. If they wanted to move the dolly this way or that way, they would say, âIs it O.K.?ââ
She breathed easier the first night, when she noticed that one person on the crew was wearing a T-shirt that said âYield to the Art,ââ she said. There are signs that say that in the basement of the Met, where art is often in transit â and where accidents could happen if people did not pay attention.