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The Day Shall Dawn: Problems on location


The Day Shall Dawn: The studio
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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It was one stage, which had some very interesting features about it. It had... the walls looked like insulating sound tile, so it would be both soundproof and non-reflective as far as sound was concerned. But when you took a close look at the walls, they were actually covered in the local mud plaster into which a team of... of an army of little men had poked little holes. So that it looked like acoustic tile, but of course, it didn't perform the function of acoustic tile, so that was pretty useless. Then the electricity supply... there was a fairly normal and adequate generating powerhouse on the site. I don't know how many kilowatt, but adequate. But it wasn't connected to the stage. The only... It was connected to the stage, but the only outlets actually in the stage, were... in each corner of the stage, which was fairly large, there were three 15 amp, normal, commercial... I mean domestic 15 amp plugs, and that was the power supply. So the first thing we had to do... because we planned to shoot one little sequence in the stage, the first thing we had to do was lay adequate cables, proper cables, directly from the power house, through the doors, into the stage, so that we could connect lights of more than 3 kW. Otherwise that would've been our lot, 3 kW, that would've been it.

And the third interesting feature of the stage was that, right at the top... It was a pretty tall stage, right at the top there was a metal ladder that led up to a walkway which went right round the top. And at the end of the walkway there was a double metal door to the outside. So I investigated all this to see if there weren't any problems. Fortunately I did it all fairly cautiously, because you opened the first metal door and then you opened the second metal door, that swung outwards, and there was no staircase to... you know, there was a 30 ft drop to the ground! Because the staircase hadn't been built yet. Anyway, small little things that could be fixed.

Anyway, we didn't plan to use the stage till much later on, so we said: this and this and this will need to be done. The only film that had ever been made in that stage was a government documentary. I can't remember what the subject was, but they were... they had erected a typical native hut, fisherman's hut, in the stage, but it was... it was just that. It was a complete fisherman's hut, erected as though you would do it on site, in the stage. It didn't have moveable walls or ceilings. It was just a fisherman's hut, exactly as they would have it, erected on the stage, and that's the only bit of filming that had gone on there. And the... The whole thing was called the East Pakistan Film Development Corporation, something like that. It was a government agency. In charge of this government agency was a very suave and clever man called, Nasir Ahmad, with whom we had a lot of dealings, because he was also responsible for doling out our film supply. Film was rationed and the film was being made with the help and co-operation of the East Pakistan Film Development Corporation. So if we wanted film, we had to go to him. And first of all it was all very straightforward. Towards the end it became very hairy and people had to sit on his tail all day long, in order to persuade him to part with... find some more film for us. Not that our demand was excessive. That also was a problem, because it turned out that the film came in batches and each batch was from a different manufacturer. So that film ended up being made on two types of Eastman Kodak, one of which was called Deko, which is the Deutsche Eastman Kodak, it's the German version. Then there was some Ferrania, and some DuPont. So the film was made on five different film stocks, because that's the way it was. There was no choice.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: The Day Shall Dawn

Duration: 4 minutes, 21 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008