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The Day Shall Dawn: Getting the film processed and the Shahbagh Hotel


Nice little incidents on The Day Shall Dawn
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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So the only thing that we didn't actually shoot in the village are the interiors. There's a few interiors in this little hut where this main fisherman lives, and that was built in as... in the end we ended up building it outside the stage and on the back lot, as it were, of the studio, because the problems of working in the stage were too... too considerable, that... but by building it outside, I could use the daylight and supplement it with some lamps. But that's the only thing that wasn't filmed in and around the village. So a lot of filming went on in the village, and then there was some filming of a fish market which took place nearby. There's some lovely dawn stuff. Every dawn was very, very misty. Some days you couldn't see down the end of the road, almost. It was very, very misty. And that made some nice scenes. And I've got some nice photographs. I didn't get it in the movie... but I've got some nice photographs of the moon over the mist, as the mist was, sort of, dispersing. It was lovely.

The atmosphere was just lovely, and it was hot, but it was not boiling hot, because it was winter, you know, it was January by that time. Most of the filming was from January to March, at least in the village, when the temperature was reasonable. The humidity was quite high. And every evening we went back to our little Nissen huts and had a drink and went to bed. Woke up the next morning at four o'clock by the crows dancing on the roof. Then there were some nice little incidents. There was a tracking shot I had to do, where some children walk or run through the village. I was going to do it as a hand-held tracking shot. We had a small primitive dolly, but there was no way of laying the tracks and all so cumbersome. So I said, 'No, no, I'll do that'. They'll come to camera and I'll walk back a little bit and then pan them over and then walk behind them a little bit. Just a little hand-held tracking shot. But I was wearing open... open sandals... open-toed sandals and they weren't very good for stable footing for me, so I sent back to my hut. I said, 'Go and fetch me my sneakers'. So they brought me my sneakers and I did the shot, once or twice, and it was fine. And then, a day or so afterwards, I heard this rumour was circulating among the people who knew just a little bit about film making, about Walter has this pair of magic shoes, that enable him to do tracking shots without the dolly. That was lovely. And there were two... two little... a little boy and a little girl about, I don't know, four years, no younger, yes, four or five years old, that we called Roti and Puri. I don't think they were their real names, but they were nicknames, and Roti and Puri are two types of bread, basically, in Indian languages.

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: 2 minutes, 59 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008