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The White Dawn: Working in the Arctic with the Inuit


Memories of filming The Last Detail
Michael Chapman Film-maker
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Because it was my first movie, it... it... I can close my eyes and remember all sorts of things very, very vividly. There's a scene at the end where they... where Randy Quaid is going to run away in... in this... in the snow, and we shot that in a park in Seattle, in a kind of slum area of... not Seattle, of Toronto, in a sort of down and dirty area of Toronto that was supposed to look like Boston, and they're going to have a picnic in the snow, and they're freezing cold, and it was very, very cold and awful and we all had warm clothes on, but the poor actors who had to... you know, they had to wear pea-coats and... and sort of simple black shoes, like navy seals, they were dying of the cold, just dying, and their faces were... what was the third guy's name? I can't remember... he was a black guy... what the hell was his name? Pretty much disappeared but I... I can't think of his name. Anyway, he was so cold that his skin became kind of grey; it was... it was very strange to see. They were dying of the cold. And they had to act, you know, and I ran along with them and when... when Randy runs away I ran... hand held the camera, running through the snow with them. It was... every, almost any part of it was so exciting and so new and so charged with terror... and other emotions, but mostly terror for me that I... I'm not sure I have any one thing in [The] Last Detail. It's all a very... more vivid to me than movies I made two or three years ago, really, because it was so... such a turning point in my life, you know, and as I've said, I was so scared, oh God. And... and it's also marvel... you know, I am... there's a scene in a bar when he throws the thing down, and I... has those famous lines: 'I am the mother fucking shore patrol you mother fucker', and all that. It was wonderful, I mean, just when I just was in awe, that was really Jack Nicholson, you know, he was right there. And then I acted with him in... in a scene in Boston, I mean it was... it was marvelous. You... how could you resist that sort of thing, you know, I certainly couldn't, and that... and as I say, the next one, [The] White Dawn, I really... I thought, my God, I've found my place in life, and this is what... obviously what I was meant to do, and I had no idea I was meant to do it, but I clearly was.

Michael Chapman (1935-2020), an American cinematographer, had a huge influence on contemporary film-making, working on an impressive array of classic films including 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', 'The Lost Boys' and 'The Fugitive'.

Listeners: Glen Ade Brown

British Director of Photography and Camera Operator Glen Ade Brown settled in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

He has been working on features, commercials and reality TV. He played an instrumental role in the award-winning ABC Family series "Switched" and is also a recipient of the Telly and the Cine Golden Eagle awards for Best Cinematography. He was recently signed by the Judy Marks Agency and is now listed in her commercial roster.

Tags: The White Dawn, Randy Quaid, Jack Nicholson

Duration: 2 minutes, 6 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008