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The curse of Scorsese


The Last Waltz: Filming in The Band's house at Zuma Beach
Michael Chapman Film-maker
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We went there every weekend and we would... they would prepare themselves and... and we would do interviews and talks and tell stories and... and other old friends – Paul Butterfield, and all sorts of other musicians – would come and they would have jam sessions and sing, and there's wonderful, wonderful footage of... of The Band playing, and... particularly I remember Paul Butterfield, but other people too, coming and jamming and singing songs – not enough of that... you know, the movie is what it is but there is somewhere in some vault some place there's amazing footage that didn't make the final cut, you know. Van Morrison singing... oh, just singing wonderful heartbreaking stuff that didn't make the cut, and... and all sorts of other people in the real concert and then in the song... in the sessions that went on for... what seemed like a year – it can't possibly be, but it seemed to go on and weekend after weekend after weekend – and by three or four in the morning my crew would be utterly like everyone else – completely wasted. I'd be standing there, sort of the solid middle class looking around at this desolation around me. Once I had one of my sons, who was then maybe 12 or so, come and help, and I remember him with me for the night, you know – because it was rock and roll, and it was The Band and everything – and he was... he loved it, but I remember turning around and finding him sort of huddled under a furniture pad asleep with... with the gaffer next to him, passed out. Oh God, what a...

Anyway, there is somewhere, and I do wish that someone would eventually find it. Somebody should talk to Marty [Martin Scorsese] about it; there is amazing songs that didn't make the cut for whatever reason, and probably correctly – I mean, if only for length of time – that still exist of marvelous folk songs and rock 'n roll songs and things and blues played by master musicians, you know, that are sitting somewhere in a vault someplace with... with perfectly good sound and everything with them. I wish they'd appear, but who knows, and that's [The] Last Waltz. Let me think; was there anything else to say about [The] Last Waltz? No, I don't think so. It was... I'm very proud of it; I'm very proud we had a chance to do it – there's never been, I think, as I say, a concert film as good as it since, and that's in large part... I mean, we did a very good job and we really thought it out and planned it out, but it's also because the band was the intellectual elite of rock and roll and they were... those songs were wonderful songs when they were together; they really... Robbie [Robertson] could really write both words and lyrics, I mean... both words and lyrics, Jesus Christ... both words and music, and... and they were wonderful, you know they were wonderful, wonderful songs and I think we, as much as possible, did them justice.

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 Band, The Last Waltz, Paul Butterfield, Van Morrison, Robbie Robertson

Duration: 2 minutes, 54 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008