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As Dark As The Night: my first big mistake (Part 2)
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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So we filmed that with back projection and I made a big mistake in directing the electricians as to how to dim the lights. Because to get the effect of you going along the street with street lamps, you have to- you have to put several lights into the cab, back light, side light, front light, and they have to go up and down, but gently, as- as to pretend as- and I- I asked them to do it much too violently, and the end result looks like a fireworks display, and of course, the producer was very cross and the whole thing had to be retaken, and there wasn't time, so they resche- they rescheduled the retake in the next week while I was working on- on a set next door. They rebuilt the back projection scene in the set next door, and to my great surprise, the person who came to photograph it was Georges Périnal. So I had the experience- I snuck in there, you know, very quietly, and watched him at work, and I learnt something. I learnt a lot. But the electricians, they- they must have known what I was doing wasn't right. But they- they weren't about to tell me that- that wasn't quite right. I was a young whippersnapper, you know, a bit- got a bit beyond my station, and they weren't going to put me right, so- but as it led to the encounter with Georges Périnal- as an- as an encounter it hardly didn't happen, but I watched him work and I saw that this is how you do it, you know. Because I- I did it all from my- out of my head. I had never done it before so I had to imagine how you do it, and I knew the- the things that had to be- I knew the- the things you had to have. You had to have these lights set and you had to move them up and down, balance the front and the back. I knew what you had to do, but I had no experience of actually doing it, so- so that came in very handy. But that film never saw the light of day. But it also gave me the opportunity to do some star lighting. Because the star of that film was Laraine Day and other than viz-a-viz the experience with Ann Todd, poor Laraine Day had no choice, you know, I was- I was the cameraman and that was that. She was a little bit worried as well, but she had no reason to worry because she came out looking very beautiful. But the film was never shown. I don't know if it was ever shown in American television. It certainly wasn't shown in British cinema, so I don't know. I don't know what happened to 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.

Duration: 2 minutes, 36 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008