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Savages: A complaint against me


Savages: Wearing many hats
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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The assistant director quit after one week because it was much too difficult, and for a while I was, effectively, the AD. Eventually they found somebody else. But there weren't... again, it's one of those occasions where there weren't a lot of experienced people around, so I ended up all sorts... wearing all sorts of hats, apart from being the lighting cameraman and the operator. Because they had a wonderful cast of some 20 people, all from the New York stage. When we finished a scene like a piece of the dinner party, or some other scene, they all wondered off into the garden. And I said, 'Whoa, whoa, just a minute, you know, this is the end of this scene, but we've got to go straight on with the next scene. We can't have a long break, we can't afford the time'. So I ended up wearing that hat as well, which became a bit irksome at times. The film was finished on budget and whatever... on schedule and whatever budget there was, because usually Ismail's budgets were something written on the back of an envelope. I don't believe there were any... you know, those budgets they issue, printed forms which go into 27 pages. Never saw anything like that on any Merchant Ivory film. It was always, usually, in my experience, it was a back of the envelope calculation.

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: Merchant Ivory, Savages

Duration: 1 minute, 11 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008