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The Day Shall Dawn: Post-production and the success of the film


The Day Shall Dawn: Problems getting the final rushes
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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By and large the labs weren't a problem until right at the end, except for this business of throwing ice in the developer, which I sort of said, 'Oh well, I suppose they're used to it. There wasn't any other way of doing it, so okay'. But the only problem we had with the labs was right at the end, on the very last batch of rushes. He demanded a bribe to hand over the last batch of rushes, which again, bribes were quite commonplace and we hadn't been paying any bribes, as far as I know. But to get the last batch of rushes we actually had to pay him some money.

But before that, there was some very amusing incidents with this guy, Nasir Ahmat, who was a very, very astute operator. Every now and then there were delegations of officials that came down from other places, probably from West Pakistan, to inspect the facilities offered by the Pakistan Development... Film Development Corporation, which included a number of machines which were in the upper floor of this lab. There was this area where there was a film cleaning machine and, I don't know, some machinery, and they were all under wraps. They were all under some cloth. They were covered with cloth. And every now and then the delegation used to come round and say... he'd lift the cloth and he'd say, 'This is our film cleaning machine', this is our so-and-so machine, because none of them worked of course. They weren't even connected to the electricity. But he was very good at keeping the money coming. He also got quite a few trips abroad out of it, where he went to America to buy some more stuff. So he was a very clever guy. But towards the end of the film, as I already said, we had to pursue him.

We had to have a man... A man was put on his tail 24 hours a day so we could get our film stock. He became very elusive. Then one day he came back and he said, 'I couldn't get to him, he's ill, he's in hospital'. I said, 'I don't know, we're going to run out of film tomorrow'. So we investigated this further and we sent the man to the hospital and they said, 'Mr. Ahmat is not yet arrived'. So we said, 'What do you mean? I thought he was... we thought he was ill?' 'Well', they said, 'well, not exactly'. He'd found this method of escaping from his creditors, you see, from the crowds of people that were always pursuing him for something or other. He just said, 'I'll talk to you, if you come to the hospital at two o'clock I'll talk to you'. Then he went to the hospital at 1:45 and got into bed and all these people came in, and he said, 'Yes, I'm sorry, you know, at the moment I can't help you because I'm not well'. He was a really clever operator.

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, Nasir Ahmat

Duration: 2 minutes, 52 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008