Monthly Archives: December 2008

The Forgotten Films Of Youth (Part 1…. maybe)

I’ve been thinking of the films of my childhood recently, specifically pictures I haven’t seen since the age of about 13 or before. These aren’t the prominent, cool movies that most say they watched as kids but the movies I remember my younger sister watching, or my mother was a fan of, or movies we rented on VHS on a Saturday night to watch whilst eating Pot Noodle after playing a 6 hour football match. The catalyst for these thoughts was seeing Harold Lloyd’s NEVER WEAKEN again during the shooting of THE INAUDIBLE CRIMES OF JASPER PIDGEON. Harold Lloyd always used to come on TV just before bed time, and as I remember it, usually on a school night. I realised I hadn’t seen any of his stuff since then! (Aged 8 )

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Harold Lloyd aka 1 sleep till school.

I was sceptical about revisiting any of these pictures as I was worried they’d dated, or for the simple reason I thought they were pretty awful at the time but have stuck in my mind through being force fed to me. I wanted the memories to remain fond, unspoiled by adult eyes as these pictures were maybe not as enduring as Lloyd’s. As usual, Matt Etheridge (my workplace Jiminy Cricket) countered with the point that these films may not have lost any their charm and that my cynicism may be unfounded. So here we go, in no particular order……

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CONVOY, Sam Peckinpah (1978)

Now THIS is a decent place to start. Watching Sam Peckinpah pictures at 7?! What a great start in life. This is apparently a certificate 15 so it’s great to know my old man was upholding moral standards, even back then. AND WHAT A POSTER!! Kris Kristofferson looks positively superhuman.

The only thing I remember about this picture is lots of trucks (obviously) Rubber Duck, the hilarious CB conversations, Kristofferson and Ernest Borgnine, who was just tremendous. Ali McGraw is nowhere in my recollection despite her leading lady status. I’ve just found this clip, has anyone noticed youtube’s new “wide screen” format? Very impressive no?

I seem to remember being a man’s movie, a movie for men, made by men and starring men…. With some women thrown in for decoration. So don’t watch it unless you’re willing to get into a punch up outside some seedy bar playing country and western music ok??!

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SILVER BULLET, Daniel Attias (1985)

This is a big poster, it was a big moment in my movie watching career. This is the first picture I ever saw that made me want to keep the lights on after seeing it. It was also the first time I’d seen a Steven King novel adapted for the screen and one of the few times I’d be impressed. My cousin and I got a hold of it not long after it came out, I was ten at the time. We sneakily watched the film downstairs in a VCR resembling a full sized coffin after my Aunt and Uncle had gone to bed. The feeling I had as I watched Corey Haim (remember him?) running (or wheeling) from the werewolf stays with me to this day. I can’t remember much about the plot at all but it’s a werewolf movie, there wasn’t much diversion from the core premise in this genre. I do however recall a fine performance from Gary Busey as “Uncle Red” and I do remember being scared witless by the werewolf. I also remember the reverend being fingered…. for being the werewolf that is, not for anything too improper. This was Daniel Attias’s first film and it was to be a springboard to a great career in TV. Here’s the trailer. It’s the first time I’ve seen a frame of this film since I was ten and to be honest, it looks pretty shit.

Ok, I’m gonna be honest here…. This is a picture that was forced on me constantly…. Honest.

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BENJI, Joe Camp (1974)

Before you start ripping into me for even having seen this film (It was my sister’s favourite) have a look at what this IMDB punter has to say about the picture!

“In a way, the film that “Benji” most closely resembles is Buster Keaton’s magnificent silent classic, “The General.” The slow, repetitious set-up of Keaton with his train and Higgins with his rounds about town, the focused realism, the slightly down-at-the-heels outsiderness of the heroes, the hint of love about to blossom if only the hero can provide for his beloved, the insistently lengthy attention paid to the immediacy of ultra-mundane cause and effect — these are the same in both films.”

Is this guy on drugs?…….. Probably. I don’t recall it being anything other that a doggy schmaltz fest. Maybe this is a picture ready for revisiting……

BENJI was Joe Camp’s directorial debut, he would go on to make nine films in his career, seven of them would star a dog.

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From Barra With Love

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There’s Sabine Hellmann, our hilariously sweet but incredibly able sound recordist perched majestically on a rocky outcrop, arm outstretched holding the boom like a Roman standard bearer. All the while listening with the ears of a hawk for any alien noise that may tarnish the scene playing out below her….. As Zach and I constantly agreed, it was the best crew EVER.

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Shooting in such a remote area may put people off, despite the beauty on show in these pictures it was no picnic. Left behind on the mainland were such luxuries as central heating and a regular supply of hot water, and at the end of the fortnight there weren’t many people on set not in need of a serious hose down, but I direct your attention back to the pictures (I have to stress that these examples were taken on my phone) and the light. That beautiful, perfectly diffused HMI in the sky is reason enough for setting up a film in an area such as Barra. It made my job as Assistant Director very easy as we rarely had to place a light… A reflector and a flag here and there were all that was required to spill gorgeous, natural illumination onto the actor’s faces which saved us bags of time. And of course, this is the very location that Alexander MacKendrick chose to film the world famous 1949 Scottish picture WHISKY GALORE, the local RBS bank has a blue plaque tacked to it in his honour. We also took great delight in looking awestruck at some whiskey bottles recovered from the actual ship the film was based on in the local Hotel. It was like being in a very small Hard Rock Cafe for movie buffs.

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All in all the shoot went incredibly well. It wasn’t without incident (what film shoot is??) but solutions were found for every problem we came across. There are a couple of scenes to shoot in the New Year then the work of stitching the picture together will commence. One of the downsides of shooting on 16mm is the lack of instant gratification but I suppose this also adds to the excitement. Ian Marrs, our camera assistant and HD disciple would say this is one of the biggest pro’s of working on digital, you see what you shoot as soon as you’ve shot it. There can be no greater satisfaction however, than getting your processed rushes handed to you and them looking like film. Real, organic, honest celluloid. Christmas can go hang, I’m looking forward to January!

Special mention should go to our actors Gillchrist, Emily and Paul (Surnames to follow, sorry) who were enthusiastically signed on to making the picture work and really embraced their characters, it was a joy to see them work.

Anyway, it’s good to be back. I think another couple of half hour showers should see me back to normal. I’ll leave you with a gratuitous sunset shot. Again, captured on my phone.

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Gone Fishing

I’m now on the beautifull and remote Isle of Barra to shoot a film. See you back here on the 16th of December.