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Another Sky: Bad weather


Having someone you can trust in the lab
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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What is most important, if you can possibly manage it, if you're... if you're shooting on a... on a location, particularly a location remote from backup, it's most important to have a reliable guy at the labs who is not prepared to... to speak out. No, he's not prepared to give you an opinion. Only a senior person is prepared to do that. Generally speaking, they will not take it upon themselves to say, this scratch is so bad that you have to retake. They'll say: it's a bad scratch, and they'll say, it's 10 cm to the left, or 3 cm from the top, or it goes right through the artist's face or not, but they will not say... if you say, 'Is it a bad scratch?' They'll say, well, that is a value judgement which we're not prepared to make. It's up to you. So, as I say, in the end it turned out to be perfectly okay. But very often you're at the end of the telephone... excuse me one minute. Very often you find yourself at the end of the phone, from some remote place in Marrakesh, or in India, or in where... have... you, and you're asking somebody, 'Look, how bad is this? Do we need to re-shoot?' And it's very, very nice to have somebody at the other end who can give you a sensible answer, which doesn't go according to the book. Because according to the book, the lab will not make a judgement as to whether something needs a re-shoot or not. That is your problem. So, I had this guy called Les Ostinelli whom I followed from one lab to the next lab and to the third lab. He started off with Humphrey's, then he moved to Rank Denham, then he moved to Technicolor, and I always followed him, in the sense that I put my negative to be developed in the lab where he was there, because it was very valuable to have his opinion.

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: labs, scatch, judgement, telephone, reshoot

Duration: 2 minutes, 1 second

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008