gallery - Film Production 1
The deep end - 1966
With a whole two weeks' official experience as an assistant director, here I was, on location in Castle Coombe -- second assistant on a massive American musical feature film, Doctor Dolittle, wotking with top British and American technicians, such as Chief Hairdresser Edith Lindon.
welcome to britain
Both writing and organising documentaries played a big part in those early years. None were happier than the three Tourist Board films I worked on for Gillie Potter Productions with two of Japan's leading stage and TV performers Hiro Nagato and his wife Yoko Minamida.
as seen on tv
Besides commercials, feature films and documentaries, TV series were always part of the work mix. I did several stints on The Avengers, here seen (at the back again!) on a Macnee-Thorson episode directed by Bob Fuest back in 1968. Among those also seen are Producer Jack Greenwood, 1st Asst. Ron Appleton and DOP Alan Hume.
Several jobs in Arizona led to becoming good friends with the State Film Commissioner, Bill MacCullum and his staff. Who knows what federal and state laws we would have been bending looking for desert railway line locations in this forthright fashion.
In the Borneo jungle for the Shell Film Unit, with Bob Ryan, Cam Asst., Robin Jackson, Director and Gus Comer, DOP. It was very warm!
culture contrasts 1
A major archaeological dig in the Saudi Arabian desert was the subject of a job for Charles Barker Films, directed by John Herbert. For aerial shots, this Bell was flown in by the Saudi Air Force.
Taken on a recce in Swanage Bay for the launch TV commercial for the Austin Metro in 1980. To see what might be on the end of my rope, it's worth checking out the film by clicking here. Organising it was one of the most personally satisfying in the very long list of complex projects I've been involved in.
I'm not jumping off the tracking tractor because the ice is about to crack under the combined weight of it and the Triumph Acclaim alongside, but with the Finnish lake thawing by the hour, I just might have been.
from one extreme . . .
Following the Saudi desert, another job with John Herbert for the Post Office found us dressed up to work in a clean laboratory. No sand here!
With principal photography starting the next day on the Lace Two mini-series, what could be better than a day of pre-production shooting above a glacier in the French Alps? I'm on the right; behind me are DOP Johnny Coquillion and Director Billy Hale.
HERE'S TO IT
Pictures from those early days are are few, but this is one from 1970, on the set of Wuthering Heights at Shepperton. It was 3rd Asst Mike Murray's 21st birthday. I look on from the very back while our boss, the wonderful Ted Lewis, pours Mike's bubbly. Among the throng are star Tim Dalton, Director Bob Fuest and DOP Johnny Coquillion. We were thawing out after weeks on the Yorkshire Moors.
filming under pressure!
The intrepid camera crew, DOP Ken Friswell and Cam Asst. John Outred (L) take advantage of a wait for suitable light at Blair Castle, seat of the Duke of Atholl.
filming under less pressure?
There can be a fair amount of waiting about when shooting documentaries, none more so than on the Shell North Sea film when tow-outs for example could be delayed for days or even weeks. Hence I have taken more pictures of such jobs compared to other types of work, where every second counts.
do you see what i think i see?
This was the moment when there appeared to be an oncoming train. There was a train, but it was stationary, as I describe elsewhere on the site. In the event, there was nowhere suitable in Arizona to stage a comedy version of the Golden Spike Ceremony, so the job, a commercial for Heldenbrau Lager, went to Northern California.
The schedule took us from Brunei to Tokyo, although not in this - for obvious reasons. The Squirrel was used to capture a natural gas tanker, as it arrived in Tokyo Bay. (For purposes of filming - not piracy, I should make clear.)
culture contrasts 2
These are our clients, professors and administrators from the University of Riyadh, enjoying a tea break on the long road journey south from Riyadh.
This job was another that changed my life. We made a short called Circus in the Sky which Rank bought and showed on their cinema circuit. As a result of contacts made during the shoot, I learnt to fly, began a part-time professional relationship with aviation and met many new friends, not least eventually my wife, Safaya.
Three Acclaims; three precision drivers, ramps they can't see the edges of, even without the lamp glare and who is the fall guy with the megaphone (right) who is counting them down to stop at the optimum place just before they drop off the top?
One of the trickier challenges on the many months of the Reilly - Ace of Spies series was staging a fight between two men on this Tyneside crane. Director Martin Campbell didn't like heights, but surprisingly went on to shoot The Vertical Limit, a feature film dealing with high end mountaineering - pun intended.
We shot Lace Two in Chamonix, Paris, Granada, London and Northern Thailand. Here I'm about to call "Turn over" on a busy little set-up in Spain as Messrs Hale and Coquillion confer; Robin Vidgeon is on the crane and Gary Spratling waits with the clapper board.
MONOLITHS AND gIANTS in their field
And here are a selection. The impressive outcrop of Brimham Rocks, on a not quite freezing day, together with a quartet of top talent. Production Manager Ted Lloyd poses with Continuity June Randall and First Assistant Ted Lewis. Mike Murray busies in the background.
Getting the ideas across
Director David Hughes rehearses with the couple, watched and assisted by the British Tourist Authority's man in Tokyo, Geoffrey Hamilton, our client and also our interpreter.
worth the waiting
This is what Robin Jackson and his crew were expecting, on an island near Stavanger. Of course on documentaries events such as this tow-out only happen once, so coverage has to be got right first time. Which means lots of pressure after all! We also used a camera boat, as you will guess from this angle, which needed great care. You wouldn't want to get in the way of this lot or ask them to go back and do it again.
working to schedule
The comedy involved two meeting lines being joined, only for the discovery that they were of different gauges. The shot pointing up the error, the last slate of the shoot, is hurriedly wrapped while the first train due to pass waits for the track to be replaced .
Loading the inevitable minibus with the camera gear. If I had a pound for every silver box I've carried . . . After Borneo, Tokyo in December (see the Merry Christmas sign) was decidedly cool.
because it's there
The Tuwaiq Escarpment overlooks the dig and the camp. The unit climbed this 2000' cliff, in fact most members did it twice, with camera gear of course.
Kit Williams (standing left) was a co-producer while the director/cameraman was Les Parrott, here about to hand-hold an Arriflex 35mm camera (also seen left) whilst the Tiger Moth performs high energy airborne manoeuvres at 100 mph.
Setting up a for a big night shoot on this John Burrows job with those three Acclaims coming over the rise . With numerous location finding trips, recces and shoots, this was my longest ever tally of days for a single commercial.
This was not a comfortable place to be for very long, let alone work, act or simulate fighting. Production Designer Roger Hall's Art Department did build a section on the studio lot: nevertheless we, stunt players and actors all had to spend a couple of days up here too. But that did get us out of Elstree for a change.
On the same day, I'm not sure what I'm waiting for but this is obviously my "Get on with it" stance. Next to me, the PM, the admirable John Davis, gives at least the appearance of frustration at the hold-up.