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Too Far to Go: Directing


'An interesting lesson as to what you can and can't do'
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Almost the last sequence that we shot in The Great Bank Hoax was a restaurant scene. Halfway through this scene, or early on actually, the camera jammed. We were using a Panaflex. Usually I'm an Arriflex man, but in America sometimes it was necessary to shoot with a Panaflex for various contractual or other reasons. I didn't mind what camera I used, but with an Arriflex I can do simple maintenance myself, but with a Panaflex I didn't... wasn't able to do it. Anyway the camera jammed and it was a very serious jam, but my clapper boy, my second camera assistant said, 'Look, I used to work for Panavision and I can fix it'. So we let him fix it, which took about two hours or something. He had to get the film out, which was all bunched up inside the camera and clear the gate and refit it all together. We continued, and when we got the rushes back it wasn't... he hadn't fixed it properly. Everybody had streaks running out from their head, up or down from their chin, which meant that the shutter wasn't properly synchronised with the pull-down movement. We'd all packed our bags and we were ready to leave, so we all had to be recalled and we had to do it all again. That was an interesting lesson as to what you can and can't do, and what you can and shouldn't attempt to do yourself, and to always work on a belt and braces policy. To test everything thoroughly, in a case like that.

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 Great Bank Hoax

Duration: 1 minute, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008