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Tom Jones: the locations


Tom Jones: technical difficulties - more on day for night
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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Now with a pola screen, you can, you can darken the sky quite a bit, and with this filter, which is basically yellow, again, on a blue sky, the sky is darkened. And the, the final result, uncorrected, is a fairly unpleasant shade of yellow/green, but in the lab it's quite easy that, on your grading machine, which in those days was called a Hazeltine, you just turned the green down, and you get to a point where it jumps to magenta, it jumps to the opposite. But there is a point in between where it's sort of neutral, and that's the point that I wanted to use. In Tom Jones it's quite effective, but it still has some faults, which later I managed to correct. Nowadays the correction facilities, via computer and digital means, are infinite so you can do what you like. But in those days you had to rely on what you could do in the lab with the available technique then, and as the technique was completely new, I kept getting notes back from the lab saying, this is completely unusable. And I said, look, haven't I sent you a special note about that? Oh, yes, yes, yes! You know.

Anyway, so with my technique, which I later described in the journal of the... what's that called, the technical society?


Yes, the other one. The British equivalent. I described this method which consists simply of using this monochromatic filter which I had made up into 3-inch, because it doesn't exist in that size, it only exists as a viewing filter. I had it made up into 3-inch squares and I used it in conjunction with a pola screen and it worked very well. And then, in the lab, you have to inform the lab that all those scenes need to be corrected. The green needs to be taken out to the point where it changes over into magenta, and then you have the result that I want. And, it was every effective and I've used it to this day. You can shoot against the sky, you can have a face up against the dark sky, almost black sky, with some flesh tone showing through, which you can't do... you can't do that with the conventional blue technique, it's all impossible.

[Q] This must have created makeup problems.

Not really. It was... you required... the only difference was that you needed a lipstick with a little bit of blue in it. Otherwise the lips came out a bit pale. But it didn't create any major problems. It was very effective. Although there are one or two shots which are severely underexposed, I'll admit to now. And, we used it in the mixture also. It's very interesting that, in many circumstances, you use a mixture of day-for-night with other techniques. Like when we were shooting in the woods, with poor Diane Cilento who had lots of her scenes cut out, because Tony, at the end, decided that the film was much too long and it didn't hold and it wasn't funny. He was terribly worried and then it became one of the biggest successes ever. But he didn't see it like that. So, poor Diane Cilento had quite a lot of her scenes cut, but we did scenes with Diane in the woods and Albert, and this was shot in a little wood near Pinewood, where they're still shooting... Burnham Beaches, they still shoot stuff there. And... as long as you're under trees and there isn't any sky showing, you don't need to use a technique that's designed to darken the sky. So in those circumstances, we used another technique of just shooting the thing slightly cold, not blue, but slightly cold by using... instead of using the 85 filter, which you had to use in those days, which was an orange/pinky filter that corrected daylight to the film material which was designed to be shot with artificial light, with tungsten light. So you needed this 85 filter on everything you shot with daylight. And instead of using that on those night scenes, we used the 3N5 and that I learnt from somebody else, I think Ossie talks about it somewhere that he used that as well, that technique. It was quite a common technique, 3N5 being... 3 which is a yellow filter combined with an N5, a neutral density 5, and so that darkens the scene and it also makes it a little bluer than it would've been with the 85. And that produces a perfectly reasonable night effect as long as you're under trees or in some circumstance where you don't have the sky. So that is an inter-cut, when he's caught and the... Hugh Griffith chases him with the blunderbuss, you know. And then there's a long run, which is filmed with the day-for-night filter because it has, it has a sky background. Once or twice there's some very unpleasant canary-yellow tones that come into the sky, which I later managed to avoid, but nevertheless, it's, it's... I think it's better than it would've been by any other... using any other system.

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: Diane Cilento, Tony Ricardson

Duration: 5 minutes, 9 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008