John Daly

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Unknown Speaker  0:00  
Introduction really? Yeah, name, date birth, place, nationality, awards, honours. And then oh, this was

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my sounding good.

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I'm John Daly.

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I was born on 28th of August 1955. In Shepherds Bush.

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from from the age of about 16, I got very interested in in films, particularly the spaghetti westerns or Sergio Leone spaghetti westerns and I used to go all over London watching those trends because they were made in the 60s, but I only got into them in sort of like early 70s. And wherever I'd get the Evening Standard and see where the good the bad the ugly was, was being played was showing, you know, and I go all around London and Fistful of Dollars, few dollars more. And that got me interested in film, I started to look at composition, the way they were photographed. And I saw lots of films. In my early teens, I used to got to land the film, Shepherds Bush on central line into Leicester Square. And movies like The Godfather and Serpico

Unknown Speaker  1:14  
are in short,

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movies like that. And then I saw that I had in my mind that I'd like to be a cameraman. And so I wrote it while I was at school in sixth form, I wrote to the BBC and said, Are there any vacancies as an assistant cameraman? And they said, Are you too young, you got to be 2021 because you'll be living out of a suitcase. So

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there was no really careers advice there. And when I left school, I actually went to one of those employment agencies of like brookstreet Bureau or something, and said that

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I asked him if they had any sort of openings in the film industry and jobs in the film industry. I said, Well, we've there is a there is a vacancy, visit news,

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inaction. And they were like a news news gathering company. So I thought, yeah, that sounds interesting. So when I went and I had an interview, and I got I got that. And

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I was, I was then in the in the vaults at this visit news. And

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they were in the process of

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transferring all the head a lot of old nitrate film, archive film, newsreel film like the

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Hindenburg, crashing, exploding amazing stuff. And they were sending the good stuff off the National Film Archive, and

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all the gas stuff they got rid of. And we used to go and

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colleague of mine, we used to go over the road to some waste ground with sacks of nitrate film each evening. And it was a guy, they used to set it satellite to it, and it used to go

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like a bomb. So that was part of the job. But so it wasn't, it was a bit boring, really. But what it would work would allow me to was to get a union ticket. So I actually got my ACTT ticket when I was at visit it, I got a couple of people to sponsor me and I managed to get into the camera branch camera department, even though I wasn't in the camera department.

Unknown Speaker  3:16  
But in the end, it wasn't a lot of help to me because the beat while I was that visitors the BBC wrote to me, it was amazing, say we still got vacancies in the in in as an assistant, but there's a job going of Film Library at Brentford. So I went along and had an interview for that. And I thought, Oh, this is great, really, I got the job. Because it's a way into the BBC.

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And I can perhaps apply for jobs

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while I'm in you know, so advertised and it was a great, great place to work as well the BBC.

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so when I was I was gonna film like, there was a colleague that a Film Library, and I remember saying to him, Well, when I was at film, while I was at film lobby, I actually did make films with there was another chap there who was into sound. So we made these films and reversal film, and he did the sound and I did the camera. And we just take the film stock, the reversal film to

Unknown Speaker  4:19  
the news film laboratoires at Television Centre, where they used to process all the footage for news and current affairs, and they used to process our film footage for T money. So you should go to Television Centre after work and we used to hang around, hang around until after they processed a film for like nine o'clock news or something and then we'd get our rushes. So I made a few little films with him. But and I there was another colleague I said, I remember saying to him,

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I'd love to go out and location and he's he said to be on now. Everyone wants to do that he will never do that and he was the son of a gaffer

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Dave Gorringe.

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So anyway,

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so happened that I met this girl

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in, disco in in Twickenham. Janet Janet Janet Westbury. And

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she said that her dad was a film camera. I can't remember exactly where she told me that or with a poor girl, orange said, I know that girls desert counterman. Anyway, I was a bit shy Lin and I didn't ask her out or anything. But I actually got her number from Paul got this guy at the Film Library. So he gave me her number. And I asked her out, and then we've been together ever since.

Unknown Speaker  5:38  
But after a while, I also was a bit worried about asking Ken about getting on location, because I thought, oh, you know, from what Paul had said about I get fed up people ask him to go out on vacation. And he said, No, Fine, come out with me. And Kim West, Ken actually taught me how to load a magazine, an airy magazine on the kitchen table. And

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how to set the camera on the tripod and

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basically put the lens put lens on the matte box. And I went out with Ken

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on a few occasions, not not many really. But he taught me the ropes. And he let me do stuff like checking the gate on location and changing the lens and stuff like and I made a few mistakes obviously along the way, but learn from that.

Unknown Speaker  6:26  
And so I started to go out then in the evenings and weekends and I had to I had an informal attachment to film department as an assistant going out location. And then I I took a week's leave and went out on another kids drama John else. And then they were advertised for holiday relief assistance, because there were so busy in the summer, people going on holiday so they used to bring in about six or seven holiday reliefs. So I managed to get on one of those. And which is great because I worked with a caravan called Keith hopper and he was he was attached to religious programmes we did we did few religious everyman documentaries, and we did some like backstories to people on

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songs of praise, but I did an amazing documentary. We went to Italy and it's about a saint who has been canonised in Rome. And we went all over Italy went to CZ and Persia and I was driving around. I mean, it was only 18 I was driving around the Colosseum in Rome, you know, in an Alfa Romeo with all the traffic.

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I couldn't believe my luck really. And while I was with him, the BBC hadn't

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had a training scheme for many years. And suddenly, they have it up they were advertised and Trainee Scheme. So I applied for that

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had the interview and unfortunately didn't get it. So I was really disappointed. And I think Ken had gone it went into the office and said, Look, why didn't you give John the job? He's a he's sort of like keen as mustard and you know, lives film and cameras. And

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luckily for me, somebody actually dropped out. One of the people who've been offered a job dropped out so it was a vacancy. So I think it was easier for them to give it to me than it was to reboard everyone. So that's how I became a trainee and I was a trainee then for about nine months and used to go out on locate, you'd go out with various film crews and camera men and they'd write a report about you at the end of it. And then I was made up to an assistant after that nine months, and then I was an assistant for for about nine years.

Unknown Speaker  8:51  
Um, you said that you made movies on reversal film, what format was that? Well, it was just it was 16 millimetre. Because there was a guy there in sales who managed to get the film shot from somewhere. I don't know how but we buy that from him. Yeah, so it was like standard 16 and Easter us. I think my friend had a Bolex and we use that.

Unknown Speaker  9:18  
Like that might even have been a clockwork bowl. It's actually but then one of the films we actually rented a Bewley or Bolier, I'm not sure that's the Asian camera with like a proper synchronised motor when we did like it, a couple of drama films.

Unknown Speaker  9:36  
So how long were you an assistant and what was the procedure to step up to be a cameraman? Well, I was an assistant for about nine years, I think. And I mean, it's amazing place healing because there were I mean, I never went to film school. But Ealing was my film school, really because there were 90 and at least 60 Film crews there. And so that was 60 Camera man's

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60 Assistant 60 record is probably about 30 Assistant record is 40 Sparks and nine,

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nine to 10 Grips is amazing production house. And you've got to work on such a variety of programmes everything from current affairs documentaries to drama, comedy, music and arts. So it's great, it's great training ground. And there's an assistant, genuinely you worked with a particular camera man for us of like, couple of years, 18 months couple of years at a time. And I think when I was first a trainee I worked with in Hilton. And then I, I worked with Peter Hall for a couple of years. And I'd worked with Peter as a trainee or Marie Curie. And he was I really enjoyed working with him. And he was quite high profile. And we got on well together. Lucky, I actually asked whether I could go with him. And luckily, he was about to change his assistant because he'd been with someone for a couple of years. So then worked with Peter,

Unknown Speaker  10:59  
for two years or so. And he was great, because he really sort of he, he let me operate for him. And he sort of had trust in me. And that gave me a lot of confidence. And I did a lot of stuff with Peter where I wouldn't do the whole day. But he might say, Oh, you can do this. But you know, there were days when I did, we did a lot of en drama sequences. In those days, there's a lot of stuff was studio based, and then the location was on studios, people driving up in cars getting out and going in and or tracking shots around London, something like that dialogue around London, your location. And Peter, let me do though, that I remember saying to PC Oh, thanks, Peter, I really appreciate you let me operate. He said, That's your job. Don't be silly. And I always remember he said to me,

Unknown Speaker  11:48  
you got it's important to crack the operating because when you start to lie, the operating has to be automatic. And I've never forgotten that. And he's right, you know, because you when you're doing both jobs, you just you just have to be prepared to just jump on the light scene and jump on the camera and not have to think about panning or however you're going to do on the crane. So I learned sort of that tracking, I did look checking crane work with Peter.

Unknown Speaker  12:16  
And it was good. It was a very good grounding. And then because I've I suffered the astigmatism and it was a bit tricky looking for a viewfinder because you could, you could you could adjust the diopter for as long and short without astigmatism. And i In the end, I managed to get myself my own eyepiece and I put a prescription lens in there. So I just put that on. So whatever Peter wanted me to hold, he said, Put your put your viewfinder on. And it was funny because the directors could never really see lenses.

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Unknown Speaker  12:48  
yeah, and so from Peter, then I, I left Peter. And then I went to do three months in New York on the New York crew, because the BBC in those days, had a resident crew in New York. And it was great because they had there was a cameraman had an apartment, the assistant didn't the sound recorders, and generally electricity picked up as freelancers. And whenever productions were going to America, they would ask who the New York crew was. And that was a lot cheaper than sending crews continuously out to America. So did that for three months. And then I got a message from the allocations office to say do you want to go to

Unknown Speaker  13:27  
Singapore, Japan, Hong Kong with your new cameraman, Mike Spooner. So I thought, yeah, that sounds that sounds good. So I worked with Mike then for about 18 months, and we did lots of foreign documentaries. And that was totally different experience because I've been used to working on drama. And with Mike it was just a matter of keeping up with him because he worked very fast. He did a lot handheld. And

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I just had to keep loading the mags and

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but we did travel travel a lot says it was it was great experience. And after that I then worked with Paul Wheeler.

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Because I said I wanted I went into the office and said I'd like to do some more drama now. And I've been doing the documentaries and my first son was born and I thought, well maybe go away so much.

Unknown Speaker  14:17  
And so they put me with Paul Wheeler. So I started working with Paul and I said to Paul, that I'd like to operate if possible. I said, Well, I'll let you I'll let you do the documentaries, but I'll never let you do the job because that's that's my passion. You say our greatness. That's what I want to do not documentary stuff. And I worked with him then for a couple of months. And

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then one day he was wrecking for a drama series that we were going to shoot called big deal and I got back we'd done an interview in London. I was unloading the transit with the gear and he walked

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over to me and said, he read this you're operating on it. And it was the first episode that he was doing on big deal.

Unknown Speaker  15:00  
And from then on, I sort of have prayed for Paul, on everything that he did, basically, even the documentaries a lot of the time, and he slayed the mags.

Unknown Speaker  15:12  
And he was a great trainer, Paul because he'd worked with the legendary Tabby England. And he was always very smart and everything but he, he, he'd become more trendy as time went on, you know, he started to wear jeans and

Unknown Speaker  15:26  
but he he was good at actually cuz, you know, he really gave me a break with the operator because he felt that the only way he could improve his lighting was to have someone else write for him. Because Paul's done a lot of training in film schools. I think he ran the cinematography course at the National Film TV school for some time. And the thing is, he's written books on cinematography.

Unknown Speaker  15:52  
So yeah, Paul, and then then I became a cameraman in 1987. I was made out of camera, and yeah, you had to have a board.

Unknown Speaker  16:04  
So I don't I've had a fair amount of acting experience by then as well, because I used to have this acting up. Ealing where you you'd go out as a camera man.

Unknown Speaker  16:15  
On not difficult stuff, really. But I think quite a bit of acting, and, and the operating as well. So it was great training. Sorry, acting, acting, I call it Mark, where you you went out as a caravan. Now, you're still an assistant, you might have got paid a little bit more, but you were the cameraman, though you weren't.

Unknown Speaker  16:35  
There wasn't your job yet. You know, you weren't actually a cameraman. But a lot of people did that. And you know, that was good thing about music because we wouldn't get that experience as a freelance because

Unknown Speaker  16:46  
you know, you were allowed to make mistakes as well.

Unknown Speaker  16:49  
And you can get away with it. And in the BBC was you can't and that's in the same way that as a as a caravan. You could give your assistant the opera, the chance to operate because outside you'd be very worried about doing that because it wasn't going well. And it was taking longer, you'd get the blame.

Unknown Speaker  17:07  
Oh, and what was the first drama you eventually stepped up? Drama? Yeah, I remember. I remember that because I'd worked with Nigel Finch, who was like a producer of arena. I think he was the CO editor of arena. I did a few weeks with Nigel. And he recommended me to Ruth Caleb, who was quite senior producer

Unknown Speaker  17:31  
at the BBC, and she gave me my first break actually, and it was a film called close relations about incest. And it's really top director agent shergold Because he just done Christabel. And he could have easily said I don't want John you know, what's he done before but he didn't. He took me on and, and it was reasonably successful. And I really, really enjoyed it, obviously. So that will really she gave me my first break. Ruth. It was good because I was lucky really that I got my break in what they called like, well used to be called plays at the BBC. But drama films, I didn't sort of go through the series and serials

Unknown Speaker  18:08  
route, which a lot of people had to do because from then on, I did another screen one called the police base in a school about kids who kidnap their teacher and lock him up in a prison cell and he ends up hanging himself, because they blackmail him.

Unknown Speaker  18:26  
And I did that. And then, from that, Adrian shergold recommended me to David Snowden, another producer, who was doing a five part drama series called the men's room. And that was an amazing break. And that was five episodes with BBC Two. Harriet water Bill Nighy. That's for Bill Nye. He was famous. And I did that. And from then on, you know, I did quite a few Jama films and

Unknown Speaker  18:57  
yeah, so So obviously, I got more popular, I got better work, more work and so on. And I still did. Um, you never did that all the time. You still did lots of other documentaries. I did. Some nice music and arts documentary. I did one with Prince Charles about architecture where I filmed with him. Highgrove and we filmed on the royal train and I went up and down the river with him talking about architecture, because he was very critical about all the new stuff that had been built in London.

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Unknown Speaker  19:31  
yeah, that sort of that sort of stuff. I never really did. And I did your current affairs, obviously, but I didn't do a lot of documentary filming. Really. You think that you benefited from this documentary? Definitely. Yeah. Yeah. Because you do have to think on your feet in documentaries, and a lot of cameras when it comes to documentaries. So yeah, I think it helped it definitely. It definitely helps because you sometimes you learn about what you can get away.

Unknown Speaker  20:00  
With a lot from lighting point of view and

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what's necessary coverage and so on?

Unknown Speaker  20:07  
Yeah. And how long were you with the BBC there? Well, about 24 years, because I was a cameraman for about I left in

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two cents, or 9099. I think I left.

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Unknown Speaker  20:23  
you know, as a camera, I did a few things, you know, because I never mentioned awards in AI earlier on, but I got, I mean, I've got a couple of Bath BAFTA Awards. I've got one for film called persuasion, which was directed by Roger Michelle. And the other one was

Unknown Speaker  20:42  
far from madding crowd, and I got a couple of nominations I did. I got nomination for our friends in the north, and the 20,000 streets under the sky.

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I was with Roger with Roger and persuasion. I mean, I was lucky. Lucky to get that, really, because I then went on to do about three or four films of Roger. And that was a period piece. It was Jane Austen. And I'd always wanted to do

Unknown Speaker  21:13  
a period film, because when I was younger, what really inspired me was John Wilcox, Barry Lyndon. And I love that. And I always wanted to experiment with candlelight. And so it's great to get the opportunity to obscuration because I really wanted to make it look like it was lit by candles and and just daylight and natural daylight. And I mean, I did like the daylight interiors, because you have to but I tried to make it look as real as I could. But yeah, I did a lot of work with candles on persuasion. And that was very successful. And I got on really well with Roger. And after that I did. I did my night with REG with Roger, which was a play that he'd done written by Kellyanne

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Kevin Elliot about

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AIDS and the gay community about shot on stage at Ealing. Then I did my first feature film with Roger as well Titanic town

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as set in Belfast to Julie Walters. I'm still at the BBC then when I did Titanic town, and that set you in the troubles and we went to Belfast for a couple of weeks in Belfast, which wasn't

Unknown Speaker  22:20  
I mean, the bombs weren't going off them but you're still a little bit wary. And I think the sparks a bit were driving around in the electrics big trucks, you know, rehabs the Falls Road and all those areas.

Unknown Speaker  22:34  
So and we did some stuff with there was certain rights which we filmed in Enfield, which stood in for Belfast, and we had some work on the stage at Ealing. And that went really well. We got we were well with Roger, and he really? And Roger was going on to do then do Notting Hill. And he really wanted me to do Notting Hill. And he said, I really want you to do Notting Hill. And anyway, the thing is, I never ended up doing it, obviously, because it was such a big movie. And I was still at the BBC. And Roger. It was a big film for Roger as well as his break into films. And it was I never even got an interview. I did get an interview in the end with with Duncan Kenworthy. But they wanted to go with the big name quite understandably, because it was Julia Roberts and his money invested. But it was the thing that really the catalyst that made me leave the BBC, because I thought I'm never gonna get a movie if I'm still a BBC.

Unknown Speaker  23:31  
So I sort of I sort of left after that. But I did subsequently work with Duncan came with it were the I could see produced the parole officer that I did a few years later. So

Unknown Speaker  23:43  
So yeah, that was that was good.

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What was the transition like going from BBC to freelance? Yeah, it was different. There's much more pressure. The first taste of that I had actually was when I was at the BBC and I was loaned out to production company called First Choice productions. I did a series called roughnecks with Sandy Johnson directing. And that's quite a tough shoot that it was seven episodes. And we filmed for a month in an oil rig out in North Sea. We were very far out on the North Sea, but we had to go by helicopter each week. So we used to go out on Monday more. We Yeah, we went Monday to Friday and Friday evening, we came back to Aberdeen. And we had like a day off day and a half of them. And then we went back then on Monday morning on to Rick and we lived on your rig and we had to share that share you know, two bunk beds in two in a room I think the two of us in a room. It was hard work is tough and quite dangerous places to work as well. And we were doing night shoots on on your rate because one of the storylines was a helicopter that goes down and we had rain effect and it was seawater and throwing seawater as he was getting all over

Unknown Speaker  25:00  
equipment and we had a Steadicam operator with us for the whole shoot. And the last night that stay gag did actually pack out with the seawater. But it was, we'd actually almost finished filming by them. But what I noticed on that production, I was working with all freelancers. And in the BBC, it was sort of felt a little bit

Unknown Speaker  25:20  
safe in a way that you had people watching over your back. And but I found that it was a lot more ruthless. And it was a lot more sort of like, that's not, to me that sounds so that that's not my fault. And people fall in that with each other.

Unknown Speaker  25:36  
So it wasn't quite as nice and atmosphere as working at the BBC.

Unknown Speaker  25:41  
But it's good experience. And I operated on that as well. It's really quite tough actually, for it's good 12 weeks or so.

Unknown Speaker  25:50  
So that was different. And I think the pressure, the pressure pressures are high on on the movie, because there's money being spent all the time. And as a DP, you're constantly under pressure and you know, asked to go faster, and you do have to be really be organised.

Unknown Speaker  26:07  
So, did you experience that the politics were more? Oh, yeah, definitely the politics. She never got involved in politics. And BBC, you didn't have to, but there's a lot of politics you've got to deal with. Yeah. And I've had good and bad, it's, I've had some bad experiences with that.

Unknown Speaker  26:25  
Yeah. Is it different? But of course, that's how everyone has to go now. Because there's no, no, we're like the BBC around.

Unknown Speaker  26:34  
And I mean, I'm doing some tutoring at a National Film and Television school at the moment. And those students, their first year students now but in a year's time, there'll be out in the big wide world. And a lot of there will be going out as cinematographers really was. They they don't take the traditional route, although some of them have been assistants, and they've been Chinese and so on. But there'll be going out and trying to find an agent and scientists you.

Unknown Speaker  27:04  
Hmm, what was the transition? Like also from going from film into digital world? Yeah, yeah, I remember my first experience digitally was when I was at the BBC. betta cam came in it was called Light, portable, single camera.

Unknown Speaker  27:22  
And they used to do current affairs on that sort of, on that format, and news, that's where it first started. But everything in the movies, in television, generally, and certainly the BBC, everything, all the drama was always on film. All locations have was on film, because we did everything on location was shot on film, but by Ealing. And the only exterior film was OBS, and that was a totally different, different department.

Unknown Speaker  27:51  

Unknown Speaker  27:54  
and so everything was on on film material. 98 I think it was to about 2006, the BBC came out with a statement that they're going to start transmitted in high HD TV, and film is not good enough. From that day on that absolutely killed 16 mil in television, because everyone was shooting, generally for HD. And you just weren't allowed now to do forbidden to do it. So you had to migrate over to HD and

Unknown Speaker  28:28  
I, I mean, I was involved actually in the first HD drama production I think the BBC did because I was offered a film series, three part series called 20,000 Street Sanders on the sky.

Unknown Speaker  28:44  
Yeah. Simon Curtis directed it. And I was I'd worked with Simon before

Unknown Speaker  28:50  
on on student prints and the amazing Mrs. Mrs. Prichard.

Unknown Speaker  28:57  
So I did try to raise hands. I know Pritchard came after 27th streets on the sky thing. And it was gonna be short and betta Karis is such a good script and everything and the high production, high quality production value. So Simon said well about shooting on HD and I said, Yeah, that'd be a great idea. And we really push for it. But that wasn't the money really. But grant we weren't so weren't. So Graham Hawkins at Vfg. And he did this amazing, a grant Hawkins is now sort of the head of 24/7 drama, but he did an amazing deal on the equipment, and then managed to get hold of an HD camera. And I use one of those menus because when there was a guy BBC called Alan Roberts who had these special menus for HD, which sort of gave you slightly extended range, which give you more more filmic slightly filmic look, tweaked the menu and gave you more in the highlights. So I use that menu, and I tried to make it look as filmic as I could

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Unknown Speaker  30:00  
Yeah, they were really I mean, I got a BAFTA nomination for that.

Unknown Speaker  30:05  
It was a great thing to work out work on this script was just fantastic.

Unknown Speaker  30:12  
So that was my first introduction. And then after that, I did things like

Unknown Speaker  30:17  
the amazing, Mrs. Prichard and Kate Ross as well, on HD.

Unknown Speaker  30:24  
But I think that was the first thing the BBC did on on that show, because there was bleak Bleak House count was quite a big one. But that came like they shot after we did that might have gone out first, I'm not sure.

Unknown Speaker  30:38  
But, but that was that was HD because now it's called we call it digital. And there's a plethora of digital cameras on the market, which, which had great

Unknown Speaker  30:49  
experience with those. I mean, at the BBC actually nearly died. As a digital I was involved in this thing we did the digital evaluation, where we compared all that we built a set at Pinewood and we

Unknown Speaker  31:05  
were tested on about 12 or 13 cameras. We tested film, the film stocks and all the different cameras that are available out there, the red one that just come out. And the D 21. I think as a D 21, the airy one, the Panasonic cameras and the Sony's and we, we, we we graded them to a grey scale, we didn't give any camera, any special treatment. And we just looked at the differences. And we did like a roadshow, we started off at the National Film theatre and we took it all around Ingo took it to America as well to cine gear in America. And the Americans did the ASC did one, a similar one? around about the same time?

Unknown Speaker  31:50  
I think I remember that. Do you remember that? Yeah, I had the students

Unknown Speaker  31:55  
write to me the other day about it use it as part of his thesis, I sent him off some a lot of as much information as I could. It's, it sounds dated in a way, because the cameras have changed so much, but it's quite insane. I actually, I've got a Blu ray of it. And I've watched it the other evening, there's still value that actually have to students, because you can lie to set because we lit the set with a metre without any monitor we just didn't know. So we would fulfil me just let cameras loose, you know, and, and to see how they all compared. I think I did some days on that. Did you, Assistant?

Unknown Speaker  32:33  
Yeah. But have you got a personal preference? Would you rather shoot on film or? Well, I'd love to shoot on film. To be honest, you know, if I was off the film and had the the choice, I would choose film, to be honest, but I enjoy shooting digitally. I mean, the images you can get from I haven't done a lot with red really. But the Sony Venice is very good. And the lexer is very good. And there's a new Alexa 35 out now.

Unknown Speaker  33:00  
And the dynamic range has improved remarkably now from when it first came out. I mean, when I first came out, when when I first did HD, I mean, I would never really operate on it, I used to be by the monitor, in that sort of like, like a tent and trying to make sure because the cameras had such a limited exposure range, you only got to be overexposed, a couple of stops and you've lost it, you know, some coming in and out. So you really did have to be behind the monitor. But now I think that the Alexa, you can just treat it like film, you know, use a metre if you want. There's such an amazing,

Unknown Speaker  33:33  
amazing range

Unknown Speaker  33:35  
that you sit by the monitor and operate the IRS. Yes, absolutely.

Unknown Speaker  33:40  
You definitely needed that control with

Unknown Speaker  33:44  
the early HD cameras like the Knights than nine 750 and the 900. But you don't have to. Not that that's not necessarily knowing your shooting log. You've always shoot in Log and you might shoot raw as well. So it's nice to be able to do that.

Unknown Speaker  34:02  
Sounds coming in and out because nobody wants to stop for the sun.

Unknown Speaker  34:07  
No. And can we go back to awards? Because it's not just the BAFTA is it? No Well, I got

Unknown Speaker  34:14  
I got

Unknown Speaker  34:17  
I got I got a thing called a night of illumination award. I got this big sword which is just over there. Behind me.

Unknown Speaker  34:25  
I did I started to do some work with a comedy director Chris gurnon who'd done Gavin and Stacey. I did a series called heaven with her and I did another film

Unknown Speaker  34:37  
called panto. And Chris was then going on to do a multi camera studio shoot, called up the women and we were in the grading suite grading Pantone and she said, how would you fancy

Unknown Speaker  34:50  
doing a multi camera shoot? And I said, Oh yeah, that sounds really interesting. Not really known what what it involves because I've never done that thing. I've never really been in TV

Unknown Speaker  35:00  
She did. Other than when I was a trainee. We did like, on the training course we did a couple of days at Television Centre with the camera crews, you know, and that was with them doing when the boat they were doing drama when the boat comes in or something like that, you know? So I said, Yeah, that sounds great, Chris, but so

Unknown Speaker  35:19  

Unknown Speaker  35:21  
so I said that was totally different ballgame doing that because it was shot that Television Centre just before it close. And we were in TC three.

Unknown Speaker  35:30  
And I had been that I then did a bit of a children in each shoe, television sent and I thought, oh, as I'm filming, that was I think I thought I'll pop up into the gallery and see what it's like in the gallery. And I started chatting to this guy and the light into actors as he's another guy who was really helpful. And his name was Rob Bradley. And I didn't really know what he did to be honest. And then when I started prepping up the web, and they said, Well, you've got to get yourself a console operator. And I wasn't really sure what that was. I thought well, that guy I was speaking to that Dec 10 admin centre, he seemed really helpful and friendly. Who was that they said out as Rob Bradley so had Rob as a console. And he was really good because you're you're on the on the multicam. Shoot, your console is really a gaffer because he's your right hand man. And you can't do it without really good console. Because you're, you're having to control so many lights and you end up shooting it with an audience. And you rehearse it during the day. And you put in all these lighting levels, you make sure you've got all the lights in the right position. And you have to then lead hand it over to the concert really on the night. But so I did that. And I wanted I tried to light up the women in the way I would like

Unknown Speaker  36:44  
a film set, you know how we're going to do this. I just had a I did a lot, a lot of soft light. But directional is a really good saves like a village hall, which will allow me to put the bank as Sawflies all.

Unknown Speaker  36:58  
And Rob was it was quite difficult working out the rig there because the funny the way rig dad posts that came down but you couldn't get a light exactly where you wanted. And you can't really get anything in from the floor because you've got five cameras in front moving up and down. So I try and get stuff in from the floor. But but it's not easy. But that worked really well. And we did another series of that we did second series and it's a shame. That was so funny.

Unknown Speaker  37:28  
It's a shame that it wasn't recommissioned it was written by Jessica Hynes and

Unknown Speaker  37:33  
Rob Rob Bradley said to be your your your put this forward for the night of illumination awards and never heard of. So I put a sequence I sent sequencing. And I got a nomination and I went to the

Unknown Speaker  37:50  
trucks, the trucks the cinema

Unknown Speaker  37:53  
for the night illumination awards. And it was an amazing award ceremony because it was sponsored all his life and companies and they had moving lights it's fantastic display and I was up against of like what Gavin fit in Bleak House. No, no, not big houses that thing he did with the little candles will fall before. Yeah, I thought I'm never gonna witness and various other ones. I'm actually one

Unknown Speaker  38:19  
going wasn't days obviously working. But yeah, it was such a I felt session achievement, getting that. And I will say I thank Rob because I couldn't have done it without Rob Bradley.

Unknown Speaker  38:31  
And after that I did. I've done since then I've done quite a few multi camera shoots because they wanted to do a reboot of birds of a feather. And they asked me whether I wanted to do that. And it evolved because I wanted someone who could shoot that location stuff and, and studio and I'd had that little bit of experience on multi cameras. So I did that. And I got involved in the with the design on the set a little to certain degree. And Nick Woods started it off. And it was really great fun working with with those girls because we did some location stuff. And then a lot of it in the studio and that was all shot with an audience. And I had Rob Bradley again. So that was great because I have such a good relationship with Rob gad because we did a Christmas special

Unknown Speaker  39:21  
a couple of years ago now and I had Rob and I spent all my time on the studio floor actually talking to him because I could still see what's going on on the monitors down below.

Unknown Speaker  39:32  
And allow me to sort of like get bit light on the girls because they're all of a certain age now and you can't like them individually on a multi camera shoot so you've got a light for a wide shot and then you're you've got to do a medium shot of Lesley Joseph, Pauline Quirke and

Unknown Speaker  39:50  
and then Robson says, but they always used to ice get a Chinese lanterns out and they always used to have those when they saw the Chinese lanterns come out

Unknown Speaker  40:00  
But I did, I did about three series of that person further over three years. And we started off at London Weekend TV. And they had a very good rigging system there, which was very fast. It was a massive set as lots and lots of lights. And LWT had to come in and out every week. So this set, and the whole lighting rig had to come out because the next day it will be the Alan Titchmarsh Show. And

Unknown Speaker  40:27  
so every week for seven episodes or so seven or eight episodes, we had to light it I used to go in at seven o'clock in the morning. And the lighting,

Unknown Speaker  40:39  
of course, they're called no posts would come down, they take off all the lights, and the last show, they put mine on the lights would, then all the lights, you'd have to do a very accurate lighting plan. But that didn't really have to change very much after the first one. But it had to be quite precise, if you had to know exactly where the set was going to be. And that would go up and then they'd bring the set in. And we'd go off and then the set was in, then we'd finished it by 10.

Unknown Speaker  41:07  
When the lights were up by 10, maybe and then the set would come in. And that was up within like an hour and a half. And then after lunch, we would go and we start setting everything resetting, because we'd already done it before but there was always like a guest set as well, there's a main house, and there was always a guest set. And that was quite a big set quite often, so I had to get more lights in.

Unknown Speaker  41:31  
Lights in skinned for that. But there were a lot there were lots of all the hard lights were there sort of like Fresnel lights with their LWT. But when we took it to Pinewood they've got TV studios there, but that had nothing there. So you had to order everything in. So obviously lighting budget went up, because nothing was included. So that was I think they were a bit surprised about that.

Unknown Speaker  41:58  
Yeah, and I did a few Christmas specials where we had to Rican struck the set and there was an actual and it was in the one of the film studios rather than TV studios. So that was even more of a job because he had to put tracks in because there's nothing there. And he had to bring the deal order demos in.

Unknown Speaker  42:17  
And I think we had a portable OB sort of like

Unknown Speaker  42:21  
a big truck. Oh, no, he didn't. No, no. Yes, we did. Yes. When we did the Christmas specials. Yeah. And it was actually in the film. In the film studio. We don't normally get that much crossover between multi camera and now you don't know a few DPS who do both. I mean, Martin Hawkins, he does a lot of lot of both. And I've sometimes stood in for Martin, he was sick. I'm not. I'm not going out. About a year ago, I suddenly got a phone call, he bumped his head. He said can you cover for me?

Unknown Speaker  42:54  

Unknown Speaker  42:56  
I felt going I thought he's gonna get he's going to be okay. And because it was a pretty light day. Then he rang me said, I'm not gonna be able to do this. You know, can you do it? And I did. I did an episode of not going out. But I haven't done a lot of multicam because not a lot of it around now, to be honest, because there used to be a lot of sitcoms a lot of a lot of comedies and not really so many now and if they are they're short on digitally single camera, or not so much single camera, two cameras.

Unknown Speaker  43:29  
Because film traditionally wrong, especially Ealing. When we short film, that was always one camera, because it's so expensive to shoot on two cameras, you might get

Unknown Speaker  43:38  
another camera in for, for the odd shot. And then also when I was freelance, you'd always have a spare body anyway. And you might use a second gets the second camera out. But now, obviously, digitally, everything's two cameras.

Unknown Speaker  43:55  
To get the coverage as well.

Unknown Speaker  43:58  
Do you prefer to shoot single camera up first single camera yeah. Or if you're going to have two cameras obviously shoot the same direction, which you don't do on the multicam you can't do because you can. Because the difficult thing about the multi camera shoot is that I always like to try and make it look as natural as possible. And to do that you've got light through the windows. But you can't do that in large camera because one camera is always going to be looking at the window at some points. So it screws you from lighting through the window. So you can get light coming into the set. But you can't really get it into the set. So you have to try and you have to light from from above, really and just try and make it as source driven, driven as possible.

Unknown Speaker  44:40  
And you'll be a See, how did that. Well I got I got

Unknown Speaker  44:47  
I can nominate it for the BSc and I had to supply examples of my work to Robin Vigeant new I think was the president in those days and the board because I'm involved in that

Unknown Speaker  45:00  
now because I'm on the board of British cinematography, I've been on the board since 2009. And we look at people's work we decided it's going to be. And anyway I got in, which is great. And so that was 1995 I became a member of the BSC. And I've always tried to get pretty involved in that because a lot of people

Unknown Speaker  45:22  
don't do some don't get involved too much. Go to the events and I can't do it because I get to talk with no sort of big names cinematographers night, Alex Thompson, you get chat with them. And I've got quite good terms with Alex, you know.

Unknown Speaker  45:39  
And so I've been a board board member since 2009. I got the John Olcott award actually for services.

Unknown Speaker  45:50  
Further in the app for furthering the aims of the BSC a few years ago. It's quite nice to get that.

Unknown Speaker  45:57  
I get to quite what is the blue one, the blue one that's to John Olcott, a world memory of John Olcott. He was he was chatting tragically died died young. I think it was hot. I can't always car crash.

Unknown Speaker  46:12  
But yeah, and it's in his name and airy. It's sort of airy. Present. It is the airy journal. It's called the edge and orchid award.

Unknown Speaker  46:23  
Elian BBC had left there, and the whole price ground to a halt with one production, you know, because the access was always really bad in Ealing, that was a big problem getting big trucks in and out and the entrance was really, really tricky.

Unknown Speaker  46:39  
But it works so well in its day, and we had the fantastic film stages as well. And a tank and I filmed in the tank a few times. And each production

Unknown Speaker  46:54  
went in there certain lights came with the stage. And if you wanted more, you could go and rob another stage with an extra 10k or 5k gaffer would go next door and see what was available.

Unknown Speaker  47:08  
And yeah, I felt that when I went back there on that shoot, they'd gone into disrepair really it wasn't quite how it was but I think it's different now I haven't been back there for a while but I'm sure they must have renovated it now.

Unknown Speaker  47:25  
You also teaching and

Unknown Speaker  47:29  
how do you see the future of young camera? Well, yeah, I have done over the last few years I've done some like tutoring really. I don't sort of lecture students but I help with with various modules and it's generally been 16 mil modules quite. I've got a lot of experience with film and the students are normally a little bit nervous about film because they come from digital where you can see exactly what you're getting and then on film is different you got to trust your eye. Though they do tend to use a digital cameras to double check what it looks like. I try again to look through a pangloss and work out what it's going to be like and use a spot metre as well. So I'm doing that at the moment. Actually, I'm in the middle of the Billy Williams masterclass at the NF Ts.

Unknown Speaker  48:20  
And they it's great for them because they get a chance to train on film because not many people get that because a lot of it can't be that easy finding assistants these days if you do do have a film production, he can actually load magazines, I imagine because most of them have moved up by now for a

Unknown Speaker  48:39  
couple of hours.

Unknown Speaker  48:43  
Well, the gpct still has courses. Yeah and loading and loading now. Yeah. Yeah. Then one recently as well with teaching Yeah, in fact, the NF TSS and as well, that they they train loaders for their great grad films and the thing module, I think the first year of film they have been focused on as in

Unknown Speaker  49:05  
do you think it's harder these days for people to

Unknown Speaker  49:09  
step up or

Unknown Speaker  49:13  
it's just getting the opportunity if you get in with a crew, as always been the same way really. And people trust you people like to step up. If you need a second camera, you might

Unknown Speaker  49:25  
that's the operator or the folks will step up to operator operator can be unloaded step up to focus. So I think that's still the way in and I think the trainee the way into film set now is to become a trainee. Would you recommend this over film school?

Unknown Speaker  49:44  
I think if you can afford the NF TS I think there's a good course.

Unknown Speaker  49:49  
It does cost a lot. It does cost a lot of money. But I think it's good to have been in the system and then go to somewhere like the NFT course like that I think is good, but you do

Unknown Speaker  50:00  
You get great experience there and also you get you build relationships because the directors get used to working with the cinematographers when they make their own films there's sort of like the the production design department so there'll be a designer from the school and there'd be a director and an editor and a film composer, order discipline crafts and editor and directors get working used to working with cinematographers and build relationships and that can help them when they leave the school because when that director gets their first film might be short film or something bigger will use someone they can get on with so it's quite a good good ground because they've got to get the experience that I had certainly the variety

Unknown Speaker  50:46  
I think these days you either do one or the other and a lot of documentaries now you've only got a look at the credits in the photograph by the director aren't they there's a lot of that documentary work I think has gone

Unknown Speaker  51:00  
well I know of camera man who 20 Researchers how to operate a camera because the researchers as well now Yeah, because now you can get a camera the Canon cameras with the autofocus it's a very good autofocus intelligent autofocus so focus is not going to be an issue and auto exposure and we only got to look out clever the iPhone is working out the exposure is normally bang on and

Unknown Speaker  51:30  
even that's got amazing stabilisation you shoot a

Unknown Speaker  51:34  
moving shot on the iPhone. Let's use a steadicam.

Unknown Speaker  51:40  
Yeah, that will probably come to the some of the cameras. So you got enough? I mean, not enough left? Yeah, um, one question. One question would be What is your interaction with other departments when you're in pre production production? Yeah. What is when you believe in pre production, you have very, obviously, you're trying to get to know the director in pre production, the more time you can spend together, the better. But you try and build a relationship with the production designer as well, because that's very close, because you're all working to make the film look as good as possible. And I've had really good experience with production designers. And it's great to have a discussion about, especially if they're going to build sets to get in early with that. So you can work out where you want your lights. So sources and the normally really

Unknown Speaker  52:32  
great with

Unknown Speaker  52:34  
very amenable to that production designers. And what's also important is, it's great on that when you're prepping a film to visit, just visit all locations, scout with the director and the production designer, because you get to know what the director is thinking what he wants to do, and you can do as well. And what often happens though, is a production designer has already done that with the director because normally a DP comes in a bit late. And sometimes decisions have been made, which are not ideal. So the earlier you can get in on the prep, prep the better.

Unknown Speaker  53:06  
So that's that's a no, I know we have a good relationship with the stand by art director because I'm very fussy about the frame and the elements within the frame and normally working on what looks good.

Unknown Speaker  53:20  
arrange things and

Unknown Speaker  53:23  
that's very important. What about practicals? Yeah, I'm very fussy of particles, and I chat about that and say what I need what's going to help me and like to have sometimes the same choosing and depends if you're going to actually use them at light sources, then you do want to be involved in that. What sort of shade if you want to put a lamp above a dining table it needs to be something that's going to work well well for you. And sometimes a practical appears on a shade and the shade is black or something is a well that's no good to me. That's that's gonna give me give me an any light. Explain what practicals

Unknown Speaker  54:03  
Oh, it was a practicals prep practical lights just like lampshades hanging lights wall lights that normally called practicals on the film set.

Unknown Speaker  54:15  
And the other one candles?

Unknown Speaker  54:18  
Yeah, candles. Yeah, I love using candles. I think candles. Candle light is such a beautiful light because although it's a hard light source, it's got a softness to it. And I used a lot of candles on on persuasion because

Unknown Speaker  54:35  
I'd always wanted to use half the barrel and and years and years ago I'd always fancied experimenting with candles because of film sets. Were a little more were a little faster. By the time I shot persuasion nine to five but I didn't reuse any anything more than 200 I say because I don't think there was a 400 I say then to be honest.

Unknown Speaker  54:56  
And I did some when when I was prepping persuasion I

Unknown Speaker  55:00  
do some tests with candles and I sort of had an idea of what I could get away with.

Unknown Speaker  55:04  
And I started so I started using candles and

Unknown Speaker  55:10  
I always intended at the first location Kellen Shaw where Amanda starts with a parents that that was going to be like slightly colder in environments I didn't want to use a lot of warmth candle light there. And I remember it's funny because when I started

Unknown Speaker  55:26  
using the candles are lit this dinner scene and I had some candles in the in the shop on the table and I lit it with I think some Chinese lanterns and some soft oval soft light and then just before we're about to take the will power went and we're left with a candle light and it looked absolutely beautiful. And

Unknown Speaker  55:50  
it's great we should just go with this what do you think? And he said yeah, go with it. And we said we shot that scene just with candlelight and I was getting I was weighing location as well and I was getting all these verses supports I was really dark you know this stuff people wouldn't be dinner if it was that dark.

Unknown Speaker  56:08  
And so I went I went back to counting the house where the editor was based and that at the end of that week and I went in it was great thing about PVC you could grab your rashes and go into the

Unknown Speaker  56:22  
Edison suite and watch them Yeah, I looked at it I thought I'm really pleased with that. So from then on, I knew how far I can go so because we weren't getting any rashes then we think anything projected or we didn't even get

Unknown Speaker  56:35  
what was the VHS rushes in those days. I can't remember and that's what's actually used that footage you didn't have to reshoot if you have to reshoot it no no it's just what what just what I wanted really and then from then on the budget for candles went up actually I think because you couldn't go back on that and we're really wanting to use them as well you know we needed quite a lot and fire like that so it was quite good. But I managed by accident I managed to get these really amazing devil wick candles which had enormous flames on them that that

Unknown Speaker  57:09  
is pure accident you know and they were brilliant. I've never seen those since actually they weren't triple webcams anything that has double weeks they did give quite a lot of light but you got to be careful using candle light and period buildings because you get a lot of

Unknown Speaker  57:25  
dark and all the walls you know they've been if you've got sconces he'll be very careful. So the locations are fussy about candles and also there's a safety issue of a fussy now if

Unknown Speaker  57:36  
you find that you have a firearm and unset and just in case

Unknown Speaker  57:44  
what about SX boys? You said earlier that it was a tricky shoot. Yeah, it was quite a tough shoot six boys it was all shot in East London, which is wrong. Tilbury Docks were based we had location base there and we had some studios and it's quite a way for me to die. So I stayed over there. And we started off with a week of night shoots. So it was pretty tough and it was a winter and we it snow effect because it's about that famous murder where they shot. All these gangsters was shot in Epping Forest and we actually shot in Epping Forest as well. And we had to use false snow and there's a lot of a lot of night shooting involved and it's

Unknown Speaker  58:24  
quite tricky with snow you know, because that was lighting with moonlight and

Unknown Speaker  58:29  
obviously it's quite tricky with white snow but managed to get a reasonable balance in the woods.

Unknown Speaker  58:36  
Really good director Terry Windsor, he was very well prepared.

Unknown Speaker  58:41  
He was x Film School I think years ago. He had everything storyboarded all the action scenes were storyboarded he was really joy to work with Terry and I did another film with him hot money about the girls who stole the money from the Bank of England years ago.

Unknown Speaker  59:00  
Yeah, I had my usual crew on Essex boys and I've still got the clapper board in fact, we had a reunion with my crew the other few months ago and focus puller presented me with the Essex boys capital. So it's nice to have that get that back again.

Unknown Speaker  59:16  
But that was my I think my third feature film is it's always

Unknown Speaker  59:21  
that was for Grenada, Grenada films

Unknown Speaker  59:26  
Could you explain the shootings moonlight please? Oh, shooting moonlight? Yeah, so shooting moonlight

Unknown Speaker  59:34  
if you're filming filming out in the open or in a field or in a forest basically you can a really it can only be moonlight so it has to be a very large source very far away and very high. So it was quite it was good fun doing the night shoots in having fries because you could the workplace where you could put a cherry picker coming through the chip trees and get some nice shadows and tinggi

Unknown Speaker  1:00:00  
Little bit blue, it's quite some very soft feeling and it's quite quite realistic

Unknown Speaker  1:00:06  
and if you want to like huge areas that you have to use sort of like very large sources the only other way to do it is is is to do Day for Night which wouldn't have been appropriate I don't think for Essex boys

Unknown Speaker  1:00:23  
I have done Day for Night and successfully in woods and it does work in woods. But you do have to use a lot of light because you've got to sort of under expose it all but then you've got to light up the faces and

Unknown Speaker  1:00:37  
can be tricky. Sorry about this, but I know it sounds obvious but because it's playing Day for Night or day for night, Dave Day for Night filming is where you're you're you're shooting in daylight but you're simulating night. So you're basically under exposing the film or the digital the chip

Unknown Speaker  1:00:56  
and making it look like night. It's difficult if you try and avoid skies, hot skies and bright shafts of sunlight. Because midnight shouldn't have a look really bright and can be problematic if you've got lots of sunlight around it can work in cloudy days by just by underexposing. But of course nowadays there's a lot you can do digitally with skies to darken them. So that's basically they for night

Unknown Speaker  1:01:27  
issues in all the West Hollywood Westerns obviously because you're filming out

Unknown Speaker  1:01:31  
in the desert you can't like that.

Unknown Speaker  1:01:36  
Do you have a preference between Day for Night or night shooting? Well, I would always prefer night for night to be honest. I think it's harder to make it look good.

Unknown Speaker  1:01:44  
Make Day for Night. Look good to be honest. I like

Unknown Speaker  1:01:50  
like nice lighting nights you because you've got you've got the control really?

Unknown Speaker  1:01:56  
If you weren't a cameraman, cinematographer, is there any other job or great in the film or TV industry would have been interested in?

Unknown Speaker  1:02:09  

Unknown Speaker  1:02:11  
I could have been could have been a colorist possibly I've always wanted to grade my own film. So I can actually do it. Do grading there because I've got the free DaVinci Resolve that fun, I quite enjoyed doing the bit grating, but I don't know what I would have done to it. And I really don't know what I would have done if I hadn't been. I can't imagine myself doing anything. And it's sort of the great thing about cinema. Bear cinematographers. It's sort of like getting paid for doing your hobby, really, when you start self out. It's It's

Unknown Speaker  1:02:45  
so fulfilling, you know, creatively, you really do feel you've you've achieved something, there's a great relief.

Unknown Speaker  1:02:54  
feeling of achievement at the end of a film is a great feeling when you've been shooting for eight weeks. And you know that final shot is a it's a wrap. And you think you've done good work.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:05  
And then then the other thing is going to grade it and make sure it looks how you intended.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:13  
So that's very important to be in the final grade point of interest. Because when you made your films, it was very hard. Nowadays, you've got a mobile phone and a freedom Vinci. Yeah. Do you think if you're making, you're starting out now to be easier, I think.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:30  
Yeah, I mean, yeah, when I started out, it was very difficult to experiment

Unknown Speaker  1:03:37  
with film, because it was expensive. And it's very difficult to make a film.

Unknown Speaker  1:03:43  
Because where do you get the stock from, you're gonna get it from Kodak, you might be given some short ends. Whereas now, everything is so accessible all the digital stills cameras you can shoot movie with, you can shoot in the log format, you can grade colour, correct your own footage, experiment, even on your eye on your iPhone. And it's so much easier to make a short film now was in the past, it was as I was saying, I used to have to take the reversal film up to the film laboratories at Television Centre, getting them to process it. And then you got to edit it on.

Unknown Speaker  1:04:24  
I said it, edited it on Steenbeck at the Film Library, and there was lucky to be able to do that.

Unknown Speaker  1:04:30  
Now you can try different versions, like DaVinci Resolve is amazing. It's got you can edit. It's great to be able to read it and colour it on in the same app.

Unknown Speaker  1:04:42  
And all the students now are very used to that.

Unknown Speaker  1:04:46  
Putting their own lookup tables onto rashes and

Unknown Speaker  1:04:50  

Unknown Speaker  1:04:52  
there's a great tip, the rash this module and at the moment, we really weren't. I was saying we really want to have like one light right

Unknown Speaker  1:05:00  
or shares or one setting so that you can judge your exposure because one that's what you were the rushes you just want to see your mistakes were film really so that's how you learn from them

Unknown Speaker  1:05:14  
I certainly happen out here a little break. Yeah, I think that's very good. We've covered everything we just have a yeah

Transcribed by


John Daly- Cinematographer. Born in 1955 in London England Awards BAFTA “Persuasion” BAFTA “Far from Madding Crowd” BAFTA Nomination “Our Friends in the North” BAFTA Nomination “20 Streets Under The Sky” RTS Nomination “Broken Glass” Knight of Illumination Award for “Up The Women” John was fascinated by Spaghetti Westerns and travelled all over London in his early teens to track down these relatively old films which led to an interest in what made these films so iconic, especially the composition and framing which made John wonder if being a cameraman could be a career, but how? John applied to the BBC for a job as camera assistant but at eighteen was told he was too young, as he would be “living out of a suitcase”. He found a job at Visnews working in the film vaults where he met a colleague who was also interested in film making and through various contacts managed to get film and processing at an affordable price allowing them to make their own films. But John wanted to see how the professionals make films on location, but then so did many others. John was then offered a job at the BBC, not in the camera dept, but in the film library which was a step closer.. He was by now determined to see how location shooting worked and as luck would have it he met a girl one evening and whilst chatting, discovered she was the daughter of Ken Westbury, a film cameraman at the BBC. After a while Ken offered to take John on location, giving him an introduction to filming, which came in very handy and a number of attachments to the camera dept, led him to becoming a trainee assistant cameraman. As an assistant John first worked with Ian Hilton then rotated to Peter Hall who gave John a chance to operate the camera and then documentary cameraman Mike Spooner, with whom he travelled extensively, eventually working with Paul Wheeler who gave John a break in Drama as camera operator, which led to being finally made up to a BBC Cameraman in 1987. After over twenty years at the BBC working on a huge variety of productions John felt it was time to leave the BBC and venture out into the freelance world and the chance to make Feature Films. Ken Westbury’s interview is also available on this site.

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