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Rodney Giesler 0:09
This is an interview with Christopher miles, recorded for the back to oral history project by Rodney Giesler in Wiltshire on March the 31st 1995. Reel one,I mightask you when you were born,
Christopher Miles 0:28
right, I was born 19, April 39, in London town and the sound of bow bells. So not quite a Cockney, but can you tell me a bit about your family and how you came to be in the film industry?
Right. My family consisted of a father who was in the engineering business, who would started making his own films and when he was young man just after the the First World War. So we have a very unusual 16 millimetre stuff. And I became very interested in this machine as a young boy, and he showed me how to work projector of things. And like, I think a lot of boys in those days, I mean, who were lucky to have that sort of equipment or II millimetre. That's how my interest started. I've got two sisters, Sarah and Vanessa, who, who one of them still is an actress. And Vanessa is now become a writer and a television presenter, and a brother who's a painter. I tried to persuade them all to get into sort of home movies. And that's really where it all started. My parents were dead against it. They thought that their movie should stay at home. And my first, I think successful attempt at getting into the business, which actually did work was the whole movie that went on circuit, which was my short film that Oscar nominated six sided triangle in which Sara played six different actresses, and we spoofed the filmmaking techniques of the styles of six different countries. In the early 60s,
Rodney Giesler 2:20
as I remember when that came out, and it caused quite a lot of attention to be shown in the press, you know, for a short
Christopher Miles 2:27
Yes, I think we were lucky in that. It did have attention. I mean, I think that was great to help by the voting brothers, who were then running but his line that actually had his own short department division. Prior to that, I, I really walked out of or ran away and away to Paris. To study at, then probably the only sort of film school that was in my reach, which was in in edic. The Institute of highest matter graphical studies of the French always grandly call there. Now, these are just now changes name to famous. There wasn't really a film school in London, there was I think there was something at internet I think it was some of London's films great just starting up. And electric Avenue. I didn't remember. But it didn't seem overly well equipped with about 1961 now. And anyway, I had a sneaking suspicion that things were gonna happen in pairs that perhaps wouldn't be happening in London. And I was absolutely right. I mean, I was just vaguely conscious of something happening in the way of new experimental film and young people reading through and in fact, that was that was happening when I got there. I was astonished to see the new wave in full swing as you read University, or was this
Rodney Giesler 3:51
Christopher Miles 3:52
That was my university years? Yes. I mean, I, I had to do national service. I think it was the last intake of national service. And as I was in rather a hurry to get on my journey, I was 22 but it seemed awfully elden those days to get on.
Rodney Giesler 4:12
And who were your consumers continues to be here? I mean, whether other people who since may be enabled as
Christopher Miles 4:17
well. Yeah. Brian, prior to me and with the I suppose the famous people with Alan Rennie and Andrew email. They've all they've still kept all our correspondence and we were now ready and I all left earlier than we should have walked out. Louis Mel had had enough like I did. He thought he knew he knew it all and went off with Cousteau underwater and I went off and is excited triangle. And Alan Rainey left because he found the bathrooms too, too hot. And Simon a bit from estimating. they've still got these amusing. Fairly, very dire letters from us all away. We decided to leave early
Rodney Giesler 5:00
Have you have you made the Russian Romanenko by them?
Christopher Miles 5:03
Yes. Yes, that is that is not it? I mean, my exact contemporaries. In my promotion, there was Claude Miller, who's who's done reasonably well. Not many others seem to have become feature directors though, of that particular motion. But Amazon's like, Oh, no, was the one after me and he he's done well,
Rodney Giesler 5:30
because the new bellevarde was coming into swing at that time full swing.
Christopher Miles 5:33
Yes, it was. Yes. Yes. I mean, I my I did a short film during the holidays, which I did on 16 millimetre on my own with some French help. And that became, I showed it to the cinema in, in Rutila, say, in MoMA, which was run by some fascinating people who who were the first to show the binu l large doors, the ink, the inkwell is flashed on the screen as we were still made a hole in the in the in the wall, which is, which was still there, then. And that raised audience and they kindly gave us him up and nothing that they didn't show this very first film I made, which was about the adventures when umbrella Boulevard was Oh, and that, that I got a half page in The Guardian. And that really sort of got things going. I mean, those early cuttings were always a help and was that that I that I used as a as being a six sided triangle to the detention of the voting brothers. And the man really was it was was it was a building's shorts manager called Barry's had Seligman was when he came in character with the Oh, the in those days, the beaver actually cared about shorts. I mean, all this talk about the film industry and caring about young directors, I mean, there is an awful lot going on in the professional distribution angle in which does actually nurture people start I mean, they expected to come straight from television or something. I mean, there's no real nurture only encouragement. And this as unit you remember yourself that the this twice Ed money was a tremendous help to a short filmmaker, I mean, was was was the midst of a dream, practice or life and death and either making it or not. And the fact that you actually get a short on circuit, which you very rarely do today, it's incredibly difficult. And he wasn't it was wasn't easy, then I think the fact that I got attention looks like a triangle was that they were banging the gong. I mean, they the buildings had some publicity. And Jerry Lewis was then behind British publicity, and he was very clever in getting attention, obviously, for the for the film and the sales. And for luckily for me,
Rodney Giesler 7:51
because the other factor, of course, was that you have supporting programmes in those days, which you don't have
Christopher Miles 7:55
anyone exactly, I mean that the structure is quite different. And I mean, the film gone through extremely good start I mean, we were I got Sarah had just started herself, so that was a help. And she she was making the servant at the time. And that helped. Por el Jolie's he got six a triangle and seven together and a couple of was proved to be raw disasters building because the seventh time Sara appeared in the cinema that evening and was laughing because he's already been fuming funny in the six. So was withdrawn from the seven and put out with them. And he went out with the pumpkin eater. And as you know, do you rather depended on your feature film to how you how you performed? Because you got a slice of the box office takings. So the better film you're with the luckier you
Rodney Giesler 8:51
are short call Hot Wheels that made an immense amount of money because it went out I think, what was
Christopher Miles 8:57
what he did? Yes, yes. Again, that was an extreme
Rodney Giesler 8:59
Christopher Miles 9:00
the Star Wars must mean at the end of the ad, just about Yes, because it ended in
Unknown Speaker 9:05
Rubbermaid Hot Wheels, which was about skateboarding, which was all the desert, right? Well,
Rodney Giesler 9:11
were you influenced by any particular directors at this time when he started in the movie business?
Christopher Miles 9:18
What he is, I think, when you were leaving London in, in the very early 60s, and therefore my education in the film, he had been in fairly poor because in the 50s, there was an awful lot going on in in in England and and if you didn't live in London, which we didn't, you You didn't go the National Film theatre which was trying to agree was going but I became aware of it. I went to the academy once or twice but interested in film was what wasn't wasn't nearly as high as it is today. And the so therefore, the people who it was made And obviously still a left there marked and need to be the people who Paris was talking who brizard talking about and we're interested in and we're making the whole place lively and for me work worked out very well you know, the film film could do something different to what it appeared to be doing in the 50s and they were we knew well when we're and obviously the new brat back then which was driven gotta try to you know, yes, yes, yes. No, I
Rodney Giesler 10:31
remember seeing a Russia moment. I'd been abroad for three years and come back to that in the electrifying editing the cut flashbacks instead of the slow fade flashback
Christopher Miles 10:42
Yes. Very effective. Yes. And the the cutting techniques were which were interesting and they had been looking at old films which and silent movies that use some of those techniques we'd rather ignored or forgotten about any values of lovers little tricks in Sedona Metro, which was another film I was really fond off at the time and but in fact, a lot of their stuff a lot of those things were were throwbacks to the to the early silent comic films and I think you know the liberation of the camera i mean i i mean on six I triangle which I was building brother gave me a production manager to do oversee the shoot, which we did in six days as we did in five days. And the reason why it is so quickly that the the silent the the the the French sequence was done with a handheld camera and the broken brother documented I couldn't use I wasn't allowed to use the handheld camera and he said it's not done and I said well it is in France. He said no, no, no, you know in you professional film the tripod is is used and that was the attitude which which was quite staggering to us today of course but I mean it's certainly you know, wasn't you didn't didn't handheld camera. And it was I suppose duration was the first sort of copy that technique and Tom Jones and freewheel it and get it and get it all going but these were all impulses from the from the new wave I mean they of course they've gone back now the pendulum swung the other ways and most most fringe cameras and our security screwed out of tripod but I mean that was it was those little techniques that were there were interesting to us and gave us a sense of freedom as a fan as well.
Rodney Giesler 12:41
Of course you had the influence of free cinema as well.
Christopher Miles 12:44
Yes the free cinema I suppose I missed it because although I caught up with it in Paris in the in the 60s. But it didn't it didn't have quite the impact of the residue wave.
Rodney Giesler 12:58
Tell me how you you've got the six sided triangle together How did you finance it?
Christopher Miles 13:05
The first the first problem was to obviously get a script that I wrote myself and then get the thing I was cleared with the union's vectors for rather more on the AC DD. I then went to medical George Elvin who ran a CTD. And he said, Well, we're not very keen that you direct it. But we let you put your money and reduce it as will help on an excise Miss Miss Robin is that I directed they want to start writing. And he said what if you write yourself a letter as a producer saying that you're the only director who has these astonishing talents? No, I didn't. And therein lies the rub. Because I mean, what happened was that I think it was the man in charge of shorts then. And, again, I let it was written to him together. That's the other thing and he said yes, that'll go through the committee stages. And you will probably it looks as your you know, you'll get your ticket. He implies that the more in play the event that there was on its way really unfortunate due to Sarah's timing on the seventh I had to get the film shot and the finance was raised by the voting brothers who raised a small amount. I hocked my I bought a very small flat for 1300 pounds in Walmart and I hopped that onto the budget. So I I was really playing roll dangerously. To remember that it was a 5800 pounds, exhibiting it had six different sets in it. David watkyn was the young cameraman who hadn't done anything before at all. accepted on the transport film. And David was the governor man. It was his first sort of film I've ever read. I think because of that, and the different styles of lighting, declares that no, pinched him for the neck with game very soon afterwards. Sarah wanted her money up front, and she wouldn't take a profit participation. So she got to 200 quid. Sorry, sorry, Nicole Williams hilarious. Don't worry, my friend. But luckily, of course, the film made 30,000 pounds profit and I didn't give any of it away to anyone. So I had a big pharma who was putting up a 3000 the buildings, we got the other one. So we that's how we got there. The big one, we're backed out a week before shooting. And so I was 3000 pounds missing. And I went to see the Midland Bank, the head offices and poultry in Windsor street in the city. And the managing director said it Well, I've got to go ahead. I've got commitments to make the film. And he said right, as well as well, we know that your father's bank was no grandfather, but are you aware that the last person we lent money to on film was Alexander Korda and he still owes us $32 million a day when you record a wedding with the middle of them for brinjal and all that with the bread so that's why the relational is and but they they drew a blind eye which was very fortunate my my father would leave me any money at all. And when the film was finished, had extremely good press and the grade brothers Ray Leslie grade and Michael's father wanted to buy it right for the budget. And the building brothers held out. They were said no, don't sell Christopher, let us arise you. We the film's gonna do well. Don't sell now. I mean, that was really torturous time for me because the film had got a good press. It was going in this category cinema and Oxford Street. Remember, the name escapes me. And that was a time when I really would ask I was desperate to get my money back because I was stretched in those days and we've seen over money where the buildings were right. I mean the film actually, to go. But the trouble with with the with the union is that john, this is the fifth day of shooting and the continuity girl I think was especially the somebody rather to young director film he, I mean, I was printed, printed to any Lozier that was very young to be doing a filming, she was suspicious that I hadn't got a card, which in fact, I hadn't, but I'd been told it was going to go through and all that, but she ran up the union and they she rang the wrong department something and they decided to black the film.
So I got back to the editing rooms, on the first first day of the sort of assembly, and that was the day after finish shooting was five days from the start of the production. And on the Monday and my editor then Peter merzbow said, No, we can't work on your film we've been flagged, and then I rang the borders, and they said, Well, we've been black, too, we can't develop it. And then I realise the CDD with the projection is wanting to show it was quite serious stuff in those days. And actually, I think, because one had to have four people on the sound, I think actually I have to say that can be off the record if you want. But I mean, that was very damaging to the budget for ministry. I think the union did hold things back considerably.
Rodney Giesler 18:47
Did you have the crew for foreign foreigners?
Christopher Miles 18:49
Yes. Yes. Well, it wasn't a documentary there. It was it was a theatrical short. And I think that's very onerous on a young person starting out, you know, which doesn't happen today. Of course, the Union have lost that particular bullying power that was actually at the time, I think, quite disgraceful. And I
Rodney Giesler 19:12
used a bit because I made my short in 1970. And I went to actt. It was he was out on Saturday. And I think I explained exactly what it was a credential. And I wasn't going to full fully crew. I couldn't afford it either. I made an agreement with the lands that they get their money, if fulfilled, got the money,
Christopher Miles 19:34
Rodney Giesler 19:36
And they all confirm and when we had a meeting in Alan's office, and they let they let it go ahead, and that
Christopher Miles 19:41
is what i think i think they use by this late years later. It's like, I think they had to ease I mean, they can see the writing was was on the wall. And but I mean, you know, the fact that I was the youngest Rector in Britain, Michael winner always likes to say that he will win he is older than me. But, you know, the only the Michael and I were the youngest Actors working in England at the time for the next five years, indicates really of the state. The industry was in. I mean, it wasn't letting young women at all. It wasn't a pizza or clothes shop. And I think it put things back a bit. But I mean, as you say, I mean things heavy is I mean, you've only got to look at john 18. Well read a book then call the young meteos. And Mike, am I the only directors in it?
Rodney Giesler 20:31
Anyhow, the six sided triangle did weld did did that. I mean, was the success of that useful in setting up your next picture as my dreams
Christopher Miles 20:41
were really immediate. I mean, I wanted to do a film called The cause of identity. And nobody's interested in me doing as an esoteric, difficult work. As young men 23. Know, it was the end of the book by Nigel Dennis. And he was on I was on as a federal court and I wanted it, it seemed as simple anyway, the long story is that I was with the great Lindsey Graham's my agent who was also the agent role diverged in the shadows was within and in those days. Well, I mean, everyone's doing it. I mean, Sydney fury, I suppose john Borman PDA, it's, I mean, we all did. We all did a pop film. And that's really that how a lot of us got started. And I ended up doing that one. And those are short. They want to do as a running, jumping standing still tactic. And it was backed by a VC who was already helpful, but it wasn't a very big budget. And then I went on to do another one. And discovered a young medical Suzy Kendall, who's her first film with, with Frank IV old and a collection of amusing British actors. And in those days, it was a spoof on on the Rififi by Odessa. That's for ideas. Yes, I mean, therefore, we do Yes, yeah. Which I do when I was 23. So I mean, not visible. And so I mean, that was quite lucky to be working that young, on a film. straight after that, and bad because of it, I think I got involved with the people who were on their production. There was in the great office, there was a Kenneth Harper, who who'd done most of the films that producer, and he'd given John's his first films to listen to, to bt aids, and to Sidney Fiore, and etc, etc. And he, and he just given Ken Russell, his first drill, for French dressing. And it was then that he and I discussed the possibility of making the Virgin and the Gypsy, but you're doing RTO is a very long way around was your question. I mean, really, what happened was that we didn't find the money for those regimes, versus if he was turned down by the National from Finance Corporation. Virgin and the Gypsy witch was actually a real success when it when it came out. That was turned down by every British company really. And the national Finance Corporation. But just as we were I was suddenly I hadn't given up but I know that Kenny had because he really felt it was really done the rounds with nobody else to see on that one. A man called Demetrius, who got involved who had had seen six sided triangle in his local theatre in Isha. And he'd remembered it over the beach. He couldn't remember the read from you saw it with. But he remembered that the short, and that I'm not at all. I mean, he gave, I was then 2829. And he decided that he could entrust me with what I call my husband important filming the version of the Gypsy. And he'd got a consortium together of European distributors, and a British bank, Citibank or Morgan Rambo to do back a series of films. I'm afraid not all of them were were successful. But I'm pleased to say that I was was, but it wasn't quite enough to save his others. Whether he made about 10 pictures, and I think the various injuries were the only one there was one or two didn't do badly. I think that there was a Western with rigid body didn't do too badly. But the Virgin's extremely well. But there's a very complex arrangement of negative rights in America that went bust because they sell the rights to a man called DuPont who was a millionaire whose son turned out to be a bit of a crime. However, the holding was fairly messy. So although it did very well in the states that you'd made and those would, which wasn't too bad about 6 million no money, unfortunately came to us it went into a deficit into America. Otherwise, it was just under a million pounds. The Franco Nero
was quite a name. And yes, he was Yes, yes. And join him because although she wasn't well known, she was well known in France. She just done Have you forgotten Sita. And it was really quite charming. And she'd done a small road regatta and so she was sort of starting off, but she never done a British picture. She's actually Canadian. So she's both. She was bilingual as both French and English. And I had trained her quite a lot in her English accent was Alexander Walker, who will get the extremely good reviews. And what we did is we had to dub drama, but I mean, as a matter of fact, he he then recanted when we told him that it was her real voice. And we had to go to Star Wars. There's obviously there's no Blackmon and Faye Compton and Maurice Denham
Rodney Giesler 26:18
must have been one of the last pictures where
Christopher Miles 26:21
she did this she did she died judgers of that, I mean, there was tremendous difference in acting styles. And I had to try and make make that look seamless. And Time magazine's that made I made it look look like the miles repertory that everybody had been used to acting with each other. In fact, they worked. So I loved that there was no because I mean, I mean, Joanna had no never and could never. And she did she did admit this could never go on a stage as airline. I mean, it was impossible. But she believed in the magic moment between action and cut. And that's how I think we got away with it. Vedanta did say to me, just before the premiere, how did that curious girl turn out? Because I had to say rather well, but I mean, that's what actors known as all the old tricks to try and divert attention from, from the leading lady to her. But in the end, and of course, there was Chris K. Walsh, who was used to who was married to David Dean, and she was used to another sort of style of shooting. She just didn't like doing these close ups of potatoes in the middle of the shoot. Should David always did them at the end. I said, Well, great. I'm doing them now. Okay, because I mean, he was a special hands. I had a flat here that I got on hand on his end to do, he will be rather upset. And secondly, I probably forget to do them anyways, we're doing them that
Rodney Giesler 27:55
was a fairly good rapport between members of the cast and between the cast and you or problems, because they were such different artists.
Christopher Miles 28:03
No, there were there were slight problems. Yes. I mean, I was they were resolved mostly on the set. But yeah, I wouldn't I wouldn't say they were they were they were major problems. I mean, Franconia was reroute was used to thinking all his stuff afterwards. And he was used to a different sort of style and drama was the French style and director radio were controlled completely. They got used to obviously, I think I brought it with me, but it's Yeah, it was Oh, she she knew another quite a interesting mixture there. And the great thing is, is that if they're all aiming at the same film, I think you do come up with a fairly homogeneous style. But
Rodney Giesler 28:55
effect fairly freehand on the version on the Gypsy. You didn't have front office?
Christopher Miles 29:01
No, that was the, the tremendous talent, I think of unsung producers, like Kenneth Harper. I mean, you know, nobody's given him a retrospective considering that he did, actually, as I said, start off the careers of affiliates. Again, Russell, and others you know, it's it's an it's really a praise to him that there wasn't problems.
Rodney Giesler 29:35
The producer ship by by non intervention,
Christopher Miles 29:38
yes, though. He was a he did intervene in a very subtle way. I mean, he did it in a way that didn't, didn't upset where he tuned himself to one's personality. And we worked out things together. I mean, we did a long series of long series of sessions on the script together, so he knew what was in my head and I did a he asked me to do a shooting scripts are breakdown a shot or shot breakdown of the script and because it's such an old doctor an awful long time to get the money together I was able to examine locations and find new detail and so that I suppose the preparation time is the time who's been with Medusa once you once you get going Of course you're moving extremely quickly and and he kept a lot of the, the worries off my back I mean one of the one of the one of the ways he tried to help with which, in fact in effect backfired we was with the famous flood sequence which I think the film it was successfully, although it's a quiet sort of Laurentian I called is a watercolour rather rather vibrant oil but he was it was it did pay off it's hopefully it paid off at the end when certainly did well commercially so presumably the public must have liked that was the famous Francine the where the force of nature washes away and destroys the the force of well the the the feelings of hypocrisy and and and in that we had a we had only one take and that was because we had to design a tank and the floodwaters had to destroy the rectory and therefore smashing through the drawing room and this was a quite a difficult thing to do. We had several 1000 gallons inside of a huge tank with a two compressor pumps to force it through the door and it was built in Leeds studios then upstairs and Notting Hill which is about an hour closing rate but it was it was there that this this event was gonna take place and the Virgin and the Gypsy and Gran Granny Granny had to drown in it as fake onto the mat is done man for that. But the Gypsy had to save the virgin from a catastrophe which was the house was going to fall down the centre staircase was collapsing. And all this going to take place in one day guide free guide was on the Android underwater camera and just in case something disasters happened and the virgin again Judo have squeaky clean Canadian attitude machine finally married a gypsy Of course in Sidney Poitier, who's a wonderfully charming and he is as you saw squeaky clean. He's wonderful Sydney but I mean she was very opposite to anybody else. She made him in the end nobody one of them No no, we're practically he was using he was about at the time but I mean that she made him out of the room. That's why I think she only did one other films after that. She went back to to being an excellent mother they got to surgery daughters, but then what what happened was that she was very touchy about anything to do with the dirt and things and she asked the producer Kenya that could you please make sure that the water was 100% clean from the the tanks? Can you didn't tell me to worry me with any extra details ready the sharp vivid enough? And he said we'll certainly clean it for you We'll make quite sure it's disinfected and he poured four bottles of metal into the deck. Why don't if you know what metal does to water and he goes having not told me about this I will have the countdown to the pumps ready the cameras ready and 54321 and this thing exploded and then the water crashed with the door. The Virgin followed quickly by the Gypsy and followed my horror by 10,000 gallons of milk filming away. I was thunderstruck I tried. I shouted cart but it's all too late the machinery was in action and above the roar of the pumps and the wearing of mechanical of extra and pull the staircase to pieces. No, no, nobody heard a thing. I told Franco Nero the the new poster the segue is would collapse. But he was to use this until the last moment as he was going to be secured by the propped up Island.
And that that he was to save the virgin by grabbing all of this and robbing her. He said I'm used to this wonderful I'm used to all these tricks and I do my own stunts in Italy. I'm very strong. I'm a very beautiful strong man. I can do it all myself. And those are great, thank you. That's fine. So and that on that first day. He in fact was knocked for six by the water. He grabbed hold of Joanna buy her underpants and pull them off in the middle of this take to try and save himself. She got her the neopost she was fine, but he was trying to save himself by grabbing her About and she'd turn around a little things get away he wasn't exactly the line reversion we had in the script the whole day was disastrous. Luckily the the mechanics to pull this deck is down didn't work. And we were able to dry the wallpaper which took until after lunch. And we did another day.
Rodney Giesler 35:28
shots of the seven boards
Christopher Miles 35:30
that's right to do treat you as you never knew that. Very few people did. You very few areas. We SBU use the seven ball and an underwater camera man. He was actually the ball the first year before we shot the film was very bad. We did it in art we shot she was wrong. The the gestation period was and the man who was doing the photography was knocked five miles down the river. Very powerful way away that year, and they stressful on November.
Rodney Giesler 36:01
Anyhow, from there you went on to another Grunewald picture in your time for loving was that that's right financing.
Christopher Miles 36:08
It was there was that was the last film that they did on under that umbrella of foreign European distribution and the city of very,
Rodney Giesler 36:22
very cosmopolitan cast. Yes, Emmys. I
Christopher Miles 36:24
mean, guys, what again, thought it was the the best, most fringing this film ever to be made, to me was a problem in the fact that it was shot in English, which I would have preferred as Bertha shoots in French. But as it was from original script by genre unui. The entire crew were French, though, because I was bilingual. I could direct the group, but obviously for international reasons. They wanted it in English. It was end of the era when I think you know, the German officer on the bridge was able to scream Achtung fires the left gone. You know, now they, the the French officers say I don't know what I mean, they actually speak in their own language. It was the end of the era when I think people were just about accepting the fact that French people spoke with broken exons in English speaking pictures. It was still apartment to me. And I think that was really one of his drawbacks, actually. And it was a slightly dated script that was a was a charming idea. And was it was one of our own ways, you know, good trips, I mean, but like all unreal stuff, you couldn't take it apart you you couldn't change it yourself. I did actually have a long session with him in the south of France. And I always had I must have invented that I must read my script. And I said, Well, I'll come back in a couple of hours and and he said, Oh, I read my script is Epstein, jaunty. That was drawn to me. And that was it. Well, can I suggest a few areas where I think you might do some changes. And he did listen to it a bit, but he wasn't terribly interested in
Rodney Giesler 38:18
Christopher Miles 38:19
Yeah, I think it was it was a Swiss watch. I mean, you know, he doesn't like Swiss watch. And if you take one, although it's very light stuff. It has got its own. its own resonance between the scenes and the characters. And you once you take something out, you want to change the whole thing.
Rodney Giesler 38:38
was the original story that was that was that is
Christopher Miles 38:42
one way? Yes. Yes. Yes.
Rodney Giesler 38:43
So you were taking the story and filming it, rather than coming up with an idea and getting him to write the script?
Christopher Miles 38:49
Absolutely. Yes. No, it was original script boundary. In fact, it had been mostly written several years before for Anatole de Grunwald, and never and never made. So in a sense, it was slightly dated. I wanted to do something else with Dimitri, but in a way, I suppose he'd done the versatility for me, he wants me to do he wanted me Me, me, me, me me to do this for him.
Rodney Giesler 39:17
Where does your fridge originate? When did you learn it when
Christopher Miles 39:19
you were here? Yesterday? Dec. Yes, yes. Yes.
Rodney Giesler 39:23
That was your only encounter with john. We was
Christopher Miles 39:26
Yes. Johnny man and he had a very sort of a secret sort of flat in Paris and obviously was his little hideaway. I mean, he really did have these mistresses journeyman. And he had a large Chateau owns other brands and things he ascribed
Unknown Speaker 39:42
to good life
Christopher Miles 39:43
he didn't ever good live and any and he was a radiant modern he was rediscovered towards the end of his easy life. And but the French row always once you become a sort of eminence, reason the French sort of the film yo yo the French lecture. Go on, you know, they, they they they keep you gay. Unlike America and here where you're as good as your last, your last play
Rodney Giesler 40:11
Christopher Miles 40:13
Yes there is yes, yes.
Rodney Giesler 40:16
So we were talking about time of loving the finger of john we, I noticed that this was a theatrical feature that it was shot in French was it mainly
Christopher Miles 40:29
nose it was shot in a in English, but the entire crew were French. The This was because the film was all set in Paris, the script was in various and it was it was deemed, I think financially viable to to do it that way and not bring over a whole British crew. And as I spoke fluent French, I was able to tune direct in in French, and help the English artisan in English. I mean, to some actors, I hadn't realised how much they rely on listening to the director talking to the camera man of getting information about the shot. And if I'm speaking French to the average I was some of them weren't quite sure what was happening on the dragons. But it was basically as you just pointed out, you got it you read a French first. Yes, everyone was French. Yes, obviously everyone. Yes, yes. And they were a trophy crew, it's that interesting thing of the studio in advance of starting shooting at 12 o'clock, without a break until six. And you go for your meal at the bar when you're not wanted on set is is a very good method. And so you have a decent breakfast, or brunch or wherever it is. Or you start grabbing over 12 and everyone who is not wanting to that particular shot or source or setup can go and have their thing in the bath if they need something and then which is in which is in the studio and that's a good method.
Rodney Giesler 42:12
What are the advantages of such a late start because I mean I for one I'm a very good early morning person
Christopher Miles 42:17
advantage of a late start is that you don't get stars didn't get up at four o'clock in the morning to move their makeup therefore they're they're particularly good mood when they when they get to having had a nice meal and a glass of wine. You avoid the traffic. So you have to get I mean as a director you can be there two hours beforehand 10 o'clock and you can plan the ratio calmly you work you don't stop for those interminable British tea breaks and breaks that always hold up shooting just when you're you've got a buzz going on the set for Glock you know and the lights are turned on you got tea no i these marvellous I'm afraid is what I like the
Rodney Giesler 43:02
documentary most of my life we don't even you know we had that sort
Christopher Miles 43:05
of flexibility as well when of course but I mean I talked about the
Rodney Giesler 43:08
four o'clock anyway
Christopher Miles 43:11
well document is you have to have the light because the studio you don't need the light of course because you watch around
Rodney Giesler 43:20
Oh, this was the the last picture you'd have to make sure the grand bomb was it and under that particular regime
Christopher Miles 43:25
regime though we do though we stayed friends and I did one more for him that lucky Dutch with with Roger Morozov, eqsl and Shelley Winters and Lee Cove and everyone was Zanna you're playing the female lead, which was the first sort of film to take Brussels apart really was it was a anti war anti anti easy film. And was a good script by jack Riley who who did later on, did the scripts for Ghandi and for the big run, woods, cry freedom
Unknown Speaker 0:02
In my house which cause absolute chaos the family, too.
Unknown Speaker 0:13
So that lucky touch was it was
Rodney Giesler 0:16
it looks from the cast. So it was quite enjoyable picture to make
Christopher Miles 0:20
it yes or no, I mean, it was wretched Oh, Roger Moore's tax day do you had to we had to film it at a certain time in in winter, and winter in Brussels is not the most enjoyable thing to do. Especially, there's quite a lot of exterior stuff. And the weather, though we I think we were quite lucky with the weather, we will remember that one always seems to, like was childhood remember the sunny days. But it was was really tough going. And we had quite a tough schedule, because those international costs in those days was quite famous people. I mean, there was Sydney, Rome, and I think what is the drawback as Ireland and Lee Jacob and Shelley Winters? That's right. And, you know, you what the disadvantage is quite because border and they all had to be slotted in to do very tight schedules. And they didn't really want a business sitting around costing money.
Rodney Giesler 1:20
What were Roger Moore's tax problems. You couldn't be in this country for
Christopher Miles 1:23
too long. That's right. Yes. And we had to do it outside the UK
Unknown Speaker 1:29
is another problem.
Christopher Miles 1:32
He's no no, yes, I better but he was he is a very easy man to work with. And he's, he's great. He's actually has a very good light touch as a comedian and he's he's a he's a very underrated certainly he is he was a good in this thing. He's the one of the messages done.
Rodney Giesler 1:53
But between before that one, you, you went into the turn of the television film as an Oscar signature
Christopher Miles 2:04
after time for time for loving, right? Yes. Was it was my first television Really? I was invited by a team of people who are running the called Full House. It was Melvyn Bragg and Gavin Miller. And they decided they'd do a five checkoff. shortfilms of average with sort of directors, they thought were worth it at the time. So Jonathan Miller and myself Carol rise. I think Canada can do one better when it was was an interesting year, Gavin dewine himself and the BBC reporter at coffee don't really I mean, they, they tried to spend reasonable money on them locals It never ends with the beam, especially then. And Melvyn Bragg rather read the script. And I got shot at rambling to play. The the nurse was a stroke nanny who's reading the script was 16 millimetre film 16 years. 16 years. That's right. And using the BBC crew,
Unknown Speaker 3:32
Christopher Miles 3:33
No, it was that was mine was all done on on vacation. I think all of them were on vacation, in fact. And it was it was it was pretty tough, tough going. I mean, I again, it was all shot in, in finding
Rodney Giesler 3:51
but it was a form of film that of course, you cut your teeth on anyway. Short Film anyway.
Christopher Miles 3:57
Yes, it was I was I was used to that and that sense yes. And it was it enjoyable in I think if I'd known more of the BBC parameters I would have made use certainly one or two other other forms of work the views you do work in a different sort of way and i think you know, if you work within the BBC, you know the tricks if you work outside the BBC, you you don't know quite so many of the in house rules.
Rodney Giesler 4:29
But I but obvious differences you came across after having gone to fooling feature.
Christopher Miles 4:36
Really the, the amount of time that you can actually spend in preparation is I think very valuable with the BBC. So everybody knows what they're doing. There isn't a lot of time to spend on the set as of May the end and also the way of getting your own crew whether that's quite tricky to give you if one new bit more of the who was available on the camera at the camera man rota for instance. You put your hand up that I could I have him on Thursday? You know, I mean it, there is a sort of there is a waiting list of people who have to be used. And I think if one knew a little bit more about that, where you started? You think it has Yes, yes, yes. No, no, no, no, I can't complain i a very good crew. But I mean, they weren't people that you do you just know self. You have to choose BBC. You had then those days choose BBC personnel. And that's the big difference between that and being a regional where you have, you know, the world is your oyster, so to speak.
Rodney Giesler 5:39
Who is most suited to
Christopher Miles 5:41
that job? Yes. I mean, I, I've never had my favourite cruise. I mean, I tried once or twice to work with one or two people more than once. But, you know, the question is availability, they're often not available. I mean, David, what can I know, I tried to work with, again, but he wasn't free. And that I wasn't that I was, I mean, that there are other problems. That Doug is local as Ghana, when I worked with trice was obviously excellent. But that's the main difference between the BBC and the vija, then, I mean, it has changed,
Rodney Giesler 6:19
presumably, between all these assignments, I mean, you're constantly looking for ideas, reading stories. And so do most of these things come on your initiation or to someone turn off a script and say, right, how about this?
Christopher Miles 6:35
I think you're looking at the rest of the conference. I mean, I think it seems to be about half and half really, this, the film is the director spends most time on nurturing himself, the ones that are often not made. I'm sorry, I'm
Rodney Giesler 6:52
talking about you know, what project you initiate and what projects you're really seeing your your film, The means was taken from a jhangiani play. Was this one of your ideas again, seeing your French background?
Christopher Miles 7:06
No, I mean, it was no I was I was approached to do that. I was in a job, lot of directors being interviewed in America. And he chose me because I had a sort of sympathy towards the subject. I knew a bit about it tonight. And I I'd seen the play in Paris. And I think again, those were, I'd say, because of my sort of French, French connections and knowledge, I got a particular job. It was a very difficult job. I mean, because it was when we started it, it was quite a cutting move by the producer, Bob Enders who were friendly with Linda Jackson then and he wanted to do to capture a play she'd done in London on the maze with with Zelda York. But the play had incredibly bad reviews, and would have closed that in not being to London and Zanna. Therefore, what they wanted me to do was redirected which is incredibly difficult. But it had another catch he had to be done in in 10 days with one camera. Henry Jerome was back in the Guinness World Records but it shouldn't be and I was approached by them to do it and I said that I probably could do it as long as I had a bit of time with the gods before we started so ever any redirecting of the scenes, which they were all had to be redirected can be done. This turned out to be slightly more difficult than and said because once you've got business in your mind that the theory was in your mind and they did doesn't to me didn't work. So redirecting Glenda and Suzy was like really redirecting to Sherman tanks removing camera territory well I designed the the the studio with the odd regular so that we could move it the camera around on wheels I mean, it was like a television camera and away so we knew very long takes without rails. And we did some drags but the dragging gets in the way of your own shot often. And I had doggies locum lighting it who was who enjoyed the challenge in a way. Unfortunately, he wasn't acceptable to film finances the condition guarantors who said he's, he's too slow. You'll never get it done. But that I'd actually I had Ross David walk in to do it. And the leading actress while watching the third actress, Madame Vivian merchant was Harold pinned his wife then said in no uncertain terms to me this It should be regularised because it's either working or me, she said. So as she had the contract and one day we didn't look different. I said, What happened to that? He said, Oh, well, I think I must have lit her badly and I film that television made with me on either the same series was what happened What have you done this film extremely quickly. And they've done so quickly. I actually had a sort of Battersea doctor office, I, I had a few spasms in my back and couldn't move because it was just incredible and breakneck speed. Really. Doug, he said that. He, I told him that Trump didn't want even he said, he said, You're rather slow. Like he said, I have a rocking chair. And he did. And we did it. We did it in 10 days. That is due to the budget, obviously, we had to do. It then made I think, about 100,000 pounds of profit. The following Monday, when the producer level is added to the American Film theatre, which we're doing then the sort of film plays. I think film filling plays is incredibly difficult if you've got no money, because you do end up doing in a way
of slightly theatrical version. But I hoped I hope that what I did was as cinematic as energy as possible, I there's no one saying want to open up the play. The very point of the maze is is a weak low situation, it's got to be an enclosed, suffocating atmosphere. And that doesn't necessarily mean that Indian, cinematic, but there's often mistaken people who want to open our plays for the sake of it. You don't have to, I mean, some of the some of the most brilliant films were done in one room. I mean, they were brilliant. And there's a very exciting film I think done on the same time as the bizarre zoom on the bomb as high as I learned love the bumblebee don't change the Kubrick film and there was another American film not as a comic thing, but a slightly more which was I think, failsafe or MIDI I got one of those titles and that was all said in one room it was as a map room for the launch of the the credible excitement build up from that. I've hadn't seen it for years, but I mean, I remember it so you can build up tension and character and have a cinematic approach to a very small location. I mean, the the expanding of it was a King George managing the doors were obviously bedded, and I did manage to expand the play and to fill in certain theatrical gaps that became good cinema. But I think on the whole that the theatre and cinema are not nearly as close bedfellows as the people seem to think I think we're very far apart
Rodney Giesler 13:00
was really waiting for multi camera videotape, wasn't it?
Christopher Miles 13:03
Yes, it is. Yes, it is. I mean, except that there's there is a tremendous strength in organising, if you can your camera to catch an artist in one day without cutting because you keep the rhythm of the performance as it was. And it gives to again, this sort of this convoluted sort of feeling to the show where the players convolution itself as erosion originally made it played by men so it's strained his range inverted bees and I think the one camera helps keep keep that tension going.
Rodney Giesler 13:51
It was an interesting contrast to you know, your wide open featured like a version
Christopher Miles 13:55
of Gypsy Oh, yes, definitely. Yes.
Rodney Giesler 14:00
So moving on now I mean, you tell me a bit about your Anglia television you moved to all these credits in sequence?
Christopher Miles 14:09
Yes, yeah, that's it. Yes. Yes. Well, having done television I I didn't see the wrong game back. I mean, there is a there's a tremendous numbers of men in written about being in television. I mean, the lot of writers weren't doing it. Now, I mean, john says enjoys doing it and doing roles yesterday. And I think most directors are doing it. In fact, most of them started off doing it. I really got the rector now working of the new law that haven't is behind them one or two have come direct from the theatre but very, very few have managed to go to the theatre and there's where else do they train you know, I mean, there are the National Film School as well as and besides at the Royal College where they will go to Were one or two of have managed to start a career without coming from
Rodney Giesler 15:05
Christopher Miles 15:06
directly this I mean, they come in. I mean, there are many I mean, I try to think of people who haven't gone to television now, one or two. I mean, I think the Caden Jones didn't deny that, you know, there are some but it's it's it's a very good training ground, I think, you know, it's any didn't just feel about any harmony. And it's, and it does enable you to practice your craft in a way that a lot of writers are not doing, they're waiting too long for a subject in the UK and in Europe and not practising their craft was these television does enable you to keep your hand in and keep the wheels going. And I realised that I could be sitting on a project for years and not happening. And a friend of mine who I'd written a television project, whether we'd done it Ave Maria story, which I wanted to do, but was having difficulty in setting up and he'd done a script for hanger television on disappearing people, which they'd rejected. And that morning, he came back, because he wanted me to direct it. And we were a bit depressed and we decided to drown our sorrows in a good glass of red and have a have a meal. And during this meal, I discussed the script and at the table there with the just landed on Mars, and he had, I think, the French he had Paddy match. And there was, as usual is great use of colour photography in his match was dead with huge red blobs, and there was this federal reserve of Mars would look to me remarkably clear, but almost too clear. And I said to David, that, that commission that that could be done in the studio. And from that germ of an idea, we dreamt up alternative three over that afternoon, which was basically based on his original idea of disappearing people. And we were trying to find out where these people had disappeared too, and who they were. And they turned out to be important scientists and leaders in industry of experimental sort. And we had as a sort of thriller element in it a missing videotape that have been stolen from a man on his way from general bank to talk to a newspaper editor about some strange goings on. This then turned out with a desire to couch it in terms of our science report spoof, as if it's been sort of something like horizon and the more we thought about this technique, the more excited we became. And in the end, we persuaded john wolf who was very much for us a john wolf then ran it running a television and against the wishes of his other board members. He decided to back the project when we presented this first script it did cause quite a ramp as movies are made it because I was doing various things with telephony and angular itself i by now I'd learned the the tricks and television to try to persuade people to do what didn't want to do and to try and break down a few barriers The film was released to a tremendous avoid with it. We got the press were persuaded not to give the game away In other words, they weren't to go along with the fact that this was it was an April Fool's Day hoax in February Unfortunately, it was finished in April Fool's Day and didn't go out that day it had to go out and a month later rather spoil the the elements of a fun but nevertheless, the spirit was was getting was kept going. And the following day, we got two headlines, the the the headline in the Daily Express and then the Daily Mirror. So a TV film causes spoof causes chaos. Wells's war the world when he was in fact, he, as we saw sort of reverse that the market didn't go to Mars. The Martians I mean, they didn't they didn't come here, we went to Mars. And the we were the were the first to talk about, I think, in a way in any depth, the greenhouse effect and we had the sort of cod map of the world and, and shrouded envelope with arrows coming in, and men in white coats talking about, which we didn't know much about in those days. But we also had, I had very early stuff of the film of the space shuttle that hadn't been built, but I had a mock up. So animation of it, and we had a lot of film from NASA, because Angus, just done a film on the Apollo launch on the moon. So we had an amazing amount of fascinating detail that we're able to manipulate to our advantage. And we we may be really The Russians, the Americans have been
conspiring and had been working together secretly in space for the last 20 years. Because this planet was doomed. And we should the study was doomed quite succinctly by putting together that year's footage on Library Journal, which was really the terrible drought in 76, which with him was made let appalling drought we put together with exploding volcanoes, the drought in Australia, there was all sorts of stuff that were happening at the time, a dead fish in the Melbourne River. And these are the and the sort of global disasters of Bihar and India went to an incredible degree as low level 200 races in the desert. And if you put all this stuff together in one demoralises dine montage sequence, it becomes extremely frightening. We then got some try to get some unknown actors in those incidents. Now, I don't think you're not allowed to use people who are not equity members, which is a problem because we wanted to get off the cuff unrehearsed reactions from people. But in the end, the actors did a pretty good job though. Dennis Potter, I have to say, and his review always is either you will never get an actor to be a non actor. But it was good. I mean, it was funny in the way that it woke people up a bit and stirred the nation. We were on the the news flown in from the west side of the BBC. It used to be funny, and he went right the way through the day. And like we felt like we were on the 10 O'Clock News. And I think the only went on was a midnight. And there was a book on the film was written and became quite a very good bestseller. And there's been another book on the book that I've just come to my agent is from America because the film was banned in in America, and has never been shown there. Because it breaches the Orson Welles type programme, which they're frightened will will cause chaos again. I never thought I'd never heard of it. But well, that's it. I mean, the world was not the world ending was very divided. I mean, I can still I said only people who remember the show very clearly. Because it had that sort of impact on those who didn't see a little while. And that's, that's television on the whole I think most television goes in one eye and not the other. But this programme, didn't it? I think television is very powerful. On the docu mentary news item. I don't think it's particularly valuable on drama, except for those who, you know, in the memory of steaks. And we did show intravenously in about four countries at the same time, that evening, which had another sort of impact. And Australia the the Prime Minister saw it and he was absolutely horrified. He believed it. And he rang his LSB minister was out for dinner. And the following day, he spoke to his his driver going to the camera and was horrified to hear that it was a spoof. And that that that day he passed law in Australian Parliament of a bidding deficient. So we had an impact on it. What did that do? To me, Joe, the people must be very aware of television and that they can be manipulated. And I wanted to show really how easily it was the maple APB people. And they were not to believe everything they saw on the box, which unfortunately, people still believe I mean, every programme is a result of somebody's point of view. And it's we're being manipulated gently or forcibly. Every time we see something. That's why because oh divided gets so hot under the collar when somebody has one point of view against this. And that's why television still remains an extremely powerful medium in that respect. Local films
Rodney Giesler 23:46
were as well. I mean, one reads with Dawkins, Eisenstein, his books, and certainly from Eisenstein, point of view of that period of the post Soviet revolution was very powerful. They were fully aware of what they were doing. Yes, yes. I
Christopher Miles 24:02
mean, the problem is that lifting techniques, he is I think, on that particular thing the film still owes, it'll design, but he it it is very different in the one respect that it is shown simultaneously in, you know, 10 million homes. And that is, of course, can never be equal by film. They still say the, you know, the news, documentary item that's going out that evening, albeit as we know perfectly well, that most of it is not live. But it still has that live impact strength that film never quite had, because it's always going to be after the event. And we know the edited. So there are two different sorts of drinks on that. I mean, the film still has amazing power the the image, but it's in a different way to the immediacy of the bio generators The key difference, right, exactly. That's all that's all exactly.
Unknown Speaker 24:56
Christopher Miles 24:59
Still have just a much better They have
Rodney Giesler 25:00
power, but it also builds up by word of mouth.
Christopher Miles 25:03
Oh, yes, absolutely. Yes. Yes. Then you read reviews everyone goes to see exactly. Yeah, exactly. You're not surprised by it. No, no, you want, though? I mean, the television is ready, a slightly ephemeral thing. It is a surface thing? Because it is the immediate impact that evening. That that does that all doesn't count. Is it worthwhile? Well, what what's it worth? Well, it's worth a lot of money to advertisers who think, you know, they've got you to watch a programme of interest
Rodney Giesler 25:29
on this subject, and talking about immediacy, which I think is really a sort of journalistic weapon. You have worked both in this kind of immediate television and in feature filmmaking, there seems to be a contrast here in television, because of its immediacy, and you haven't got the luxury of what I call Oh, terrorism. You can't sit back and contemplate and let our work build up in your mind and your shooting, grow into a sort of organic hole that you can sit back at the end and say, Oh, that's me. That's my style. And people can say, Oh, that's a Christopher miles film, look at the way that that particular giveaway. Those sorts of things are ever present in cinema. I mean, the obvious ones, I'm thinking of our Lewis milestone, for instance, in some of his battle sequences, where you've got tracks and men falling back on the wire. Yes, yes. Yes. Carol Reed, for instance, his use of silent children who are witnesses to a scene?
Christopher Miles 26:27
Yes, there's no and then there's signatures. Right. You don't get that in television? No, I Well, I think, I think also, we're coming into an era where the immediacy and the so called impact of the the telephoto and the handheld camera has given people believe that because it's wobbly autofocus, and perhaps not as elegant as the images you're talking about the read and lose mouse and images. It gives is it gives a built in reaction to the spectator, supposedly in the brain, that because it is rough and ready, which is a sore nouvelle route and the way it is the truth. In other words, you're watching Europe afterwards, the magical film, but but because it's been made in a sort of shoddy way. Well, I say shoddy and this is a nice way of I mean, surely in the way that a news camera would have done it, then you're believing it's true. And I think this is the sort of the copycatting is going on to try and, you know, for instance, the the techniques used in JFK, were that sort of technique that you mix up, eight millimetre shot by an amateur and you're trying to recreate the amateur technique by lousy dog rape, that sort of thing, which we did in alternative three, I mean, I shot it in 16. Notice, I did shoot somebody eight mil and had it blown up, and roughed, roughed up, out to dry and give that effect of so called clandestine reality. And it's that that's been copied individuals. And there is now the sort of what I call the Robert Altman thing, where, you know, you've got a lot of delivery to use a lot of crossover dialogue, a lot of crossover images, which are slightly messy, and is not as precise as the previous filmmaking techniques. And I think the with that, I think is gone the power of the image. Because television has no power, I mean, has a lesser power than the film. There's been a slightly shoddy technique. Shortly in what I, you know, trying to say, in the news way, were at the debasement of the actual power of the word of the visual what it says. And I think the actual strength of a visual because of the fast cutting techniques, because of all the things I've gone through whether the telephone and all that has doesn't lend itself to the strength of the image, then it's tended to be debased now, and is not interesting to the public anymore in the way that it used to be. And the Eisenstein technique of matching good images, albeit they were black and white, but they were extremely well photographed against each other tells you a psychological thing in your brain. By putting these two clear images against each other, if those images are not clear, and fuzzy and pixelated through video, then you have a different impact in your brain. And it is not so clear. And I think this is one of the dangers thing that's happening today is the debasement of the of the of the good pure image
Rodney Giesler 29:56
techniques being used over and over again without reference back to the original reason.
Christopher Miles 29:59
Yeah, well, I partly that. And also, I think that, you know, the debasement of image by simply copying it. I mean, there's the use of Metropolis in the promo of Freddie Mercury was, I think quite what a meat is raised for it was a bleed. I mean, because a lot of people didn't know what it came from. And the filmmaker is able to pinch these images from other people's films. I think it's
Rodney Giesler 30:27
always nice to go back to our Merchant Ivory epic of sort of paste dignity.
Christopher Miles 30:33
Well, yes, but but it worked out. But then again, but but I think even they have come on to this inference that they are not using the image for the power of the image. Their images are very clean and strong. But they haven't got the juxtaposition or the interesting cutaways using kalorien miles down and I just died, that is not being used anymore. It's faded out because people don't think in images, they, the sound is becoming increasingly important. Then we get the day to day and was silent until later on, milestone is taking on from the silent movies. I mean, he's although he's was sound. He's very near the silent era. And the power of the silent film, I think is been enormously debased. And people are no longer interested in trying to work out stories, I think through images. I think that the images are for sale today are not interesting.
Rodney Giesler 31:25
Well, they are debased. I mean, there's nothing I like bores decision BAFTA. For remember screening and the screen where the lights go down goes out to the full huge, they will see the whole thing. For instance with
Christopher Miles 31:37
stereo and yes, so that's what I love. Whereas the box in the corner, still rotten definition. Yes, he does run division and then we are being you know, we've we've we've cut our cloth to fit that box in the corner. I mean, you Why isn't why at why isn't anybody going to use MX is as expensive. I know, the expense is one thing. But certainly David Dean was the last man to use a 670 millimetre projector camera on the set. Now this blown up to 75 if you use it, but I mean, the the actual, most films are now shot with a view to a television set. And afterwards, even beanbags. They're all shot once outside. So you can sell it to the small box later on. And therefore, I think one of the sadnesses and I think I want to wishes I'd like to do is to put back into my next film, as some of the strengths of the image that really mean something occurred against each other, you know.
Rodney Giesler 32:43
Specifically, what did you I mean, is there any subject or anything that you'd like to do now that that idea,
Christopher Miles 32:51
yeah, I'm working on on on a subject, which I've had data on for some years now, but because of its production problems and never been made, I mean, I have to think playing the producer a little bit for that. But that is a Dijon subject, which I've done a couple of years Ron's films, written by Robert bolt, my brother in law, who's who's, sadly just died when he did a rewrite before he died, called the plumed serpent. And that is based on a Dickens novel in which a, an Irish woman visits Mexico to see girls and he gets drawn into a new revolution of where they bring back the old gods. As Roman Catholicism has failed, we were talking about the 20s would launch very aware of what's happening then. And it is, I mean, if you see, go back to your your friend iodine, if you see, his film gave him a mihika, which wasn't actually ever really completed properly. But there you've got some incredibly good images. And I wouldn't know certainly some of them are inspirational to me today, and there's nothing fuzzy or cross or you know, or unclear about those images. They are Stark, there is strong images which you can cut against action. And I think it's that sort of strength that I think has gone out of fashion today. And in a way I'd like to bring it back. I mean, surrealism is another one, which is part and parcel of that same thing. It's where the actual quality of the photographic image has also dreamlike quality hell, dreamlike quality. And there again, I think there might be old fashioned but I think there's time for a revival of some of that
Rodney Giesler 34:48
image is that okay, Viva Mexico, of course, was a totally darling doll. Yes.
Christopher Miles 34:52
Absolutely. Yes, they are. The real Yeah, they are. Yes. And I equals and so on. And so yes, absolutely. Yes. Yeah.
Rodney Giesler 34:59
I'd love to see that film again, what there is of
Christopher Miles 35:02
it. So that's an example.
Rodney Giesler 35:05
You're just getting back to what you mentioned about keeping your hand in from the craft point of view, I noticed that you've done quite a number of commercials. I didn't do it for the money, or did you? Well, I suppose you obviously do for the money. But I mean, was it? Was there also some reinforcement of your technique and skill that came out? Did you? Well,
Christopher Miles 35:25
I think that's partly my fault. I think I could have used them. The trouble is I got involved in in rather basic products, that one couldn't use much of a skill. And I had the VEDA please break into commercials. And I was lucky to find a producer who I got on well with. But unfortunately, he was dealing in very basic commodities. They were hard sell stuff. I didn't, I did start off, we did actually do the first, the first sort of stylistic card, we did a we did 16 millimetre I was the first person to shoot a commercial and 16 millimetre to again, II imitate the reality of a, of a live shoot. And we had people in the audience who were asking questions, who are actually acting, but he I did in those days, try out a technique I was working on, which was to try and recreate the news reel, look. So one could try one or two things. But I think there is a very limited early. I mean, I the especially, I believe, but really the 70s what I was doing a lot. And the and they certainly kept me going, I think I couldn't have survived without them.
Rodney Giesler 36:47
I mean, certainly, commercials nowadays that we've got all this computer imagery is enormous, I mean, for them are very exciting. And they seem to be on the brink of defining something, but they never quite get there. In other words, it's a technology that I'm sure couldn't be carried over into narrative form, but really hasn't. It hasn't happened. And because no one's really decided how to use the new weapons, so to speak in a narrative, a long term narrative sense. Now, you can concentrate a lot of information in a very short period.
Christopher Miles 37:16
Very good, I think it certainly helps you helps you say that is to say things very briefly. What I think also helps and in fact, in ways hindrance, it teaches a director how to, to be positive, and to believe in the third is equals executives, you've got to show something. Whereas you don't believe in the nut, the kernel, you don't believe in the middle of it, you actually believe that the product is the best in the world. But you want to pretend to other people that it is, therefore you become quite good at wrapping up a lie. And I think it does teach monkeys some bad tricks. And I think some directors got a lot of commercials stopped really worrying about the basic truth of the script. As long as it's wrapped up nicely. And then I think we come back to the stigmas of of Hollywood today. If it's wrapped up, it doesn't really matter. What it's saying is the most banal doesn't really matter. And he and he in America has certainly learned to portray the most banal scripts in the most exciting and visually interesting ways. But I'm not sure that is a great benefit to the cinema as a whole. Right, we're on
Rodney Giesler 38:52
a film called The priest of love about the H. Lawrence, you've got a particular interest in
Christopher Miles 38:57
Well, I think yes, we're from the from the Virgin and on the Gypsy I read up my research to see more about the man and discover his his his writings and his books. And then he's got his poetry and I discovered that actually, he wasn't too bad a painter was when he tried anyway. And then when we read more about his life, and that became very, very interesting, I thought life between him and his German wife, Frieda vinery, stoven and the problems they had during the First World War, being accused of being a spy and the problems that the artist himself you know, who always had difficulties in getting his, his what his work published. So became interesting to see this sort of this light of progression of a man who was not only fighting the, the, the the present, his present time and what people thought of him, but also he was fighting a disease which he had terminal disease in tuberculosis, which was then incurable So you've got a film with a sort of a limited lifespan that you know the artist is fighting against, as well as his his own artistic problems, and I think, and you've got this amazing relationship between him and his wife who kept him going. And the last sort of driveway was was combination of him privately printing. Lady Chatterley's lover that he was determined to do a book that he said, would wake the English up and go to the extremes of artistic getting as in those times, but to do with real law rather than the smutty pornography or the Victorians, which he was against. And you've got his paintings that were shown, which are the same time and I was really lucky in in being able to cost who I wanted in that and, and I got here McKellen debate Lawrence and Janet Suzman for reader successful us it was not terribly here. I think the critics you know, are never going to like what you do Lawrence, but he was very successful. abroad and especially in the in Australia and America.
Unknown Speaker 41:15
Alan plater Yes, I
Christopher Miles 41:16
use elevator. Yes, he is a very, extremely good as a script writer, he has had problems in features, I think, because he's been so wrapped up in television. But I think that as a man who understands the north and Lawrence Allen's was was an ideal Joyce brizy writer. Yes, he is. Yes. Yes, he is. Absolutely. And then after that is, you know, I did I did some documentaries. You said with connection with Greece, you wanted to never ever. I was
Rodney Giesler 41:55
wondering perhaps if we can come on to that. On the next
Christopher Miles 42:00
time. See Rachel Vina
Rodney Giesler 0:08
reel two side three.
Unknown Speaker 0:11
Rodney Giesler 0:12
wonder if you could tell me a bit about your involvement of office obvious love of Greece and the documentaries you've done there and also on athletics, which are strongly related to Ancient Greece. Can you tell me a bit about them?
Christopher Miles 0:25
Yes, I suppose. The Greek nation starts with an interest in in a project I had years ago on a Laurence adaro novel, I call the dark labyrinth. And I went out to do this was before the version the Gypsy had to do to script it with an American writer who Lawrence had recommended. lado sent me a telegram advising you the man to see and he lived in Hania in eastern Crete. And in those days, that was the 60s it was quite remarkable race was totally unspoiled reason those days and and I was interrupted by, by, by by the sites. I mean, when I hadn't I hadn't seen this area before. And it turned out to be an interesting experience. I met this man who who was indeed, a good American writer. We started on the screenplay and the agent of Donal digadz. Gorgeous. who shouldn't be nameless. Because he'll he knows the story himself and is amused by it always. He let me go and work in Crete on the screenplay. And after two months of working out there, I just got this extraordinary letter for over ramen, that my then Well, my my my then girlfriend, then became my wife brought out with her we weren't married then, obviously, to say that dad was wrong with terrorists, I'd have to tell you that I sold his rights to this book. Four years ago and forgotten. I dunzo to Swedish television. I said right, did you want to settle out of court, which was the end really that's how it all started. We did a lot of code. And I became friends with American writer Charles Orban who's written a couple of jobs. Halderman, he he'd written some novels he wrote, he's never died. He he was he was with cape. And Tom master was actually had a flat above his house in in Konya, who was just caving right there from then on, I got to know one or two great people and some quite interesting Greek poets and musicians, I got to know many metals, how heavy dark is and I wanted to carry on and try and do a Greek fable that had no rights attached to it. Call the boy who came from the sea, which we sell to a producer in America, but unfortunately was never made. From there, I went on to the new the the ideas of, of
setting up a production much much later. This is due to the context I had
on the everlasting problem of the Elgin Marbles. And when a Greek friend told me that he knew that Elgon was up on the Acropolis, waving a revolver forcing people to to chip off the freeze, which I suspected was a Greek exaggeration, I decided that I better get the bottom of the story. And by doing research, and I found his letters, luckily, in the in a relevant noon publication in the London library, I was able to piece together, which had been not really done before in in the history books, I could lay my hands on the exact story of how elegan did it and how he's persuaded to do it and what he thought of the time and what his wife thought at the time, whose wife No, no, never stop writing and she was there for a lot of the time, and she also paid for most of it. And it was then that I I set up the production I discovered where he had a ship called the mentor that went down with most of them. I was on board and he he wrote a letter saying my ships gone down with some stones have no value on board, which for the argue Marvels that he was trying to hide the fact that he'd take them. So it became apparent where his leashes lie and how it was done and the full, quite complex diplomatic story of behind the positive Marvels. And it was then I became friends with Malena mccory, who was, was, you know, as his was minister of culture, and one of them back in Greece. But I will say that the man who really sort of saved the project from floundering because it was a very complex, delicate project, because he was between British and Greek television was your lesser media's husband, who was, as you know, a great film director and also an extremely personable and helpful man for this project. And it was, and when you've then becoming gotten over a Greek cruise, that there's the there's the, there's the joy of shooting in that light, which is normos ever constant and, and doesn't let let you down like the UK, it became apparent that know that once we got as a crew of people together, you know, things can go from there. And I became an I actually became interested in I was having interested in the psychology of Greece. And it was, at that same time that I was asked to do a film on a Greek city in Turkey, with john with his knowledge. And then after that, called aphrodisiacs, which was an extraordinary manufacturer, for the Romans for their marble busts, because they had a huge marble quarry there, and it's the most untouched and well preserved, of the Greeks it is extend today, and it's not on the beaten tourist path is is is it inland, in what was obviously Asia Minor. And I then got to know, among my friends who was auto semi jack, a, the training the trainer for the Greek athletic team, and also next expert on ancient the ancient Olympics. And at that time, we then had an athlete, an all rounder, kathlyn champion, and David Thompson. And I became very intrigued in the how the engine games derived or the modern games, rather drive the engine games and where the similarities and where they stopped where they started. And I went into the the research on that. And it was fascinating and we asked Thompson to do some of the things they didn't do any more like the long job with the with the weights The hotel is that they're called. And but some of the most of the events and in the in the decathlon due date back from 2000 Yes, we did, we were actually allowed in because I was friendly with mina mccory, we were allowed to not only go into it, and then we were allowed to throw a discus of the original weight was a much heavier than the modern discus in the arena. And that was have as a well, we just nearly finished for the day and dearly had just won the world championship. The European Championship in Athens that previous week, and suddenly out of the blue this Guardian arrived from the museum carrying a long one along with it made paratus they didn't drown him so many moving moments, and it was an industry thing, because we're gonna actually see how brakes work out certain things are starting method, which we still have problems with, which is how do you get people to start at the same time and they actually had worked out a system run like a horse race with with with every starter had to line up behind a collapsible piece of wood which held together by by a string that on the word gets that go, the umpire let go, this sort of encoded bead that had all the strings attached to it. And the sort of starting gates fell in front of Eazy E Tron at preventing any of all stars. And there's all these things that was worked out and thought about in detail, which I found, you know, interesting. At the same day we filmed the modern games, and I was really lucky because daily actually, as you want it and broke the world record on the day Islam decades remaining, the best attended events, which is still an Olympic event today.
Rodney Giesler 10:11
Or you did a film on the marathon as well.
Christopher Miles 10:14
Yes, that was a follow up video that I was asked to do by Channel Four more difficult to get interesting mileage out of that really allow you to do miles miles. But agrees with that as well. We went to ease for some of that. We rendering those are not the histories of the marathon as as the marathon today as run and the problems it causes. The average citizen, there's a lot of people just go in for it today. The London Marathon, as you know, is on Sunday, this Sunday. So I mean, there's a lot of people going for it, it's quite, it's a very stressful event. So we were we were following a couple of people who had ordinary jobs, and to see where their problems were. And the drama that the actual two marathons we followed in detail with the London Marathon and the new New York Marathon where I had a bad sort of few cameras, I have three cameras on a helicopter on New York. And I didn't have quite as much on my own in London. But that was raised a follow up because of my my first editor was
Rodney Giesler 11:21
because there's participation as quality of participation is very similar to the the original Olympics because didn't the farmers and the peasants come in from the fields for a run of Olympia? Very early games?
Christopher Miles 11:35
Yes or No they anybody could take part but it was surprisingly professional. I mean, there there are people derive professional today and, and there's a well, it's not the spirit of the ancient sports where nobody was paid. And the whole thing was wonderfully amateur is actually isn't tried true. The winner of the Olympic Games in ancient Greece added tremendous financial reward at the end of it, I mean, he had free he had actually was able to support himself freely by the state until he died. He had immense web presence, you know, huge amounts of free olive oil and free This is lucky for me. And he said exactly when he wasn't quite as pure as we will make out and there's a lot of rivalry and a lot of grainy work went on. So it wasn't quite the same thing. I mean, it was stepping off, stepping off the plough, and going to hell discuss I mean, they actually they they did train and and of course, they had the gymnasiums in in, in Athens and most of the major major cities where the schoolboys train anyway. So it's quite similar today, in fact, in many, many ways, and the, the differences being that it was more than an artistic event, as well as music, combined with it. And the event was a more sort of, like a musical festival Music Festival combined with sport, which we don't have an equivalent today, as is really apps totally, totally confined in one area or the other. And this, you will see either good or bad thing. But certainly the Greeks managed to combine the the elements of, of poetry, music and sport in one event, which is quite an idea, very much sort of, I suppose, was the basis of British public schools berming. Even then, we when doesn't combine all those together?
Rodney Giesler 13:39
I'm interested to ask you now, on a general level, you see I've ever since bar and possibly even before that there has been an affinity between English people and Greece. You know, one thinks of what you've mentioned Lawrence Durrell, people like Patrick v firmer and the British School of archaeology in Athens and things like that. There's always been an Anglo Greek connection down the years. I mean, what for you is the fascination of Greece? You've got a home there now. Why?
Christopher Miles 14:10
Well, I mean, who is my nearest willner neighbour around the bay? I think for me while abroad up on it is imbued in our system? In school days? Yes. Yes. I mean, it's got to me I had to learn Greek and I had to learn Latin. And one is forced because either forced down you a bit and you either rebel against that, or you will anyway, whatever you do, you you assimilate it in your subconscious. I've since learned that obviously, one wonders of Asia Minor in Egypt and ancient China had this much influence on certain things today, but one was one tends to be brought up the cradle of Western civilization, although it was Iraq. was definitely it was Greece that was the shining glory
Unknown Speaker 15:05
I think we have
Christopher Miles 15:07
some things in common with disappearing empires we have an immense amount of coastline between us both I mean, in reasons an island is a seafaring nation. And there are emotional ties, I think that really come from, from from Byron and come from the fact that we, in a way, in our past education have kept that spirit going. I mean, certainly Olympics was bound to go but I mean, the the the sportsmen, spirit, and the idea of, of education and sport together in harmony is an ancient Greek idea. And that's very much part of one's youth.
Rodney Giesler 15:54
Do you find sympathy with the Greek character? I mean, if you've got a lot of good, do you feel in good company when you're in Greece with Greek friends? Yes,
Christopher Miles 16:01
yes, I do. I mean, I think they have their own way of bringing them they've got, especially their own music. Popular music is, is much more indigenous to them, than within hours here, there are pop music is totally is terribly modern to them, they, they throw back to the, to the to the zero music as well. And they combine the two, they've learned to combine the ancient modern all the time, because it's the oldest written language in the world today. And they're constantly having to revise it, because it doesn't quite fit in with the modern world. And I think that is a way is interesting, it says, a parallel between us and Britain as well. And I think that there really isn't,
Rodney Giesler 16:45
I mean, we're a nostalgic country, I think.
Christopher Miles 16:47
Yes. Yes, there is. But there's also an interest and maybe too much fixing of the past all right, and then perhaps, but there was trying to break out of that, which is always interesting for me to see an avenue from a purely purely in a way, European point of view, I mean, my reason for I suppose having a small, small house, the reason is that I really wanted somewhere in the Mediterranean where I can have an olive grove and look out on the on the glittering sea without any high rise hotels, and it's quite diversified today. I was lucky to find it. And one likes the, the, the the, the way that the the the the the natural course of events in the farming community, which you do get here and away, but it's, we've, we've become much more civilised in England and then we're industrialised and more industrialised. Yes. I mean, it's I think the the people themselves, I mean, the word for Zinnia, which means foreigner also means welcome. Guest. So that was a great welcome that I mean, given there. And although some people find the Greeks were tricky, I think I mean, lucky. I mean, I found them quite easy to deal with and they built my house on on budget. I speak a little about three years, I wouldn't say it's good. It's extremely liberal learning which to learn. I mean, there's still trade learned. And the weather people are, unfortunately extremely good at English as a vowel. Even even in the remote village I am, which is the bottom of the Peloponnese. They they speak very good English, but they and they try and practice on you rather than up to speak on them. But they didn't mind you're having a having a go.
Rodney Giesler 19:01
I'd like to just turn before we finish this interview to your your professorship at the RCA. Your move from a creative artist, if you like to an academic How did you accomplish this wasn't a shock to suddenly have to define the kind of work you've been doing all your life?
Christopher Miles 19:20
Well, it was a very low period of the British film industry, which everyone agrees is was was pretty loud was the end of the 80s. And I'd never really thought about doing academic career. I wasn't totally pride myself having left the day because I said, my friend from school having lived in Saudi prematurely. I was wondering how I did dragger It was really Justin Stevens who rang me up who ran the who was Rector the other college and the director. JOHN hedgerow was in charge of photography. And although the the was, I gather with was been a word was being unhappy to advertise, I didn't see it. But every day, they asked me to give it if I was interested to come in for an interview. And I said I was under certain conditions that I mean, if if they were serious about, you don't have to look around the place. And suggest how I change it because they were in desperate need of reorganising the department. And they were going to move to a new building and set up a new television and film department combined together. So to me, it was very interesting. I mean, the fact that one had to challenge to do to, in a way, patch up slightly, an old design for a studio that had gone a bit wrong, and try and save it before the bulldozers will will cement mixers finalise the whole thing, as just in time to put a few more holes in walls and show them where a projector should go. And our studios will be built. Because the architects seem to have not studied the filmmaking process as closely as they should have done. And then there's the challenge of opposite of young students who I remember being one myself and therefore, one knew the difficulties and the hopes they had, and to try and run the place in a way that I felt it should be run, which is similar to a studio. I mean, a filmmaking studio that I mean, you you have a decision at the top of MGM, and you write scripts, submit them and have them analyse and you structure your budgets and your pre production in a way that is a professional manner, not in the student manner. Partly because i think that i think the people who go to the Royal College of Art is postgraduate anyway. So the next step is out onto the hard pavements of Water Street or Beverly Hills, or wherever. And I think that they ought to know how it's done on the outside world, because on the whole film schools do have not been using academic and not be using professional filmmakers. To teach people they want they have, in the most part in the Royal College, been academics over written about it and never actually made any films. So I think I'm pleased to say that, you know, I was a reasonably good breath of fresh air. And and I formed a producer's department that train producers as well. They weren't all directors, which everyone was wondering if the question is to try and train people who understood how the film, how film was set up and how it was financed.
Rodney Giesler 22:51
So we're really your philosophy was much more vocational than academic.
Christopher Miles 22:55
Yes, yes. Rather than
Rodney Giesler 22:57
teach any film appreciation, or any film history or anything a bit,
Christopher Miles 23:00
a bit, but I mean, on the whole, there was a film appreciation on the history run by the the humanities department. Chris grayling, which I think could have been improved, we should have got together more I tried to I mean, they have made it. There's tremendous jealousy in academia is one of the reasons I left I mean, it says, it's actually worse the film industry. And we did have some appreciation. There was a big letter a week. But on the whole, they were keen on getting on and making things their biggest wish, was not to sit down and talk about overtime. And this may be his fault with the with the young youth today. And it may be a fault with the whole concept. But obviously, my my, my interests were really were to prepare them for the outside world. And it's a very short course it wasn't it used to be three years is now down to two. So there was an awful long time to sit down and talk about history as we didn't eat egg, for instance, which I enjoyed. Yes, I mean, Yes, he did. We certainly did. And we had, we had the geometry to discuss the philosophy of cinema. The Psychology is philosophy to cinema, there's enormous I still got them five tombs work about the psychology and the philosophy of the cinema, which either loved or done in a way but dived in permitted I mean, if they want to get out and make, they wanted to have a shoki. They wanted to have something on their arm and they'd have to run college. They wanted to have a feature film. Next week, the individual was a slightly shorter but they they want to have a visiting card and wasn't necessarily trying to what students wanted, but I felt that in the time allowed, which was fairly short. That One should think about a postgraduate student is doing something that he could try and get a job on.
Rodney Giesler 25:08
There is there is that very necessary, fundamental attitude in this country as a contrast to France because you're talking about your your time great study of film philosophy on the front of France. And of course, at that time, the new wave was coming out of K to cinema. I mean, they were critics first.
Christopher Miles 25:27
Yes, they were. Yes.
Rodney Giesler 25:28
Historians first and then filmmakers. Second, or a very big second, but consciously influenced. I mean, Truffaut see premium for this package conference. He was obsessed by this.
Unknown Speaker 25:40
Yes. Well, we
Rodney Giesler 25:42
honestly have to say in this country. I mean, he was he was a sort of he had his own little magazine called secrets that he said,
Christopher Miles 25:47
That's right. And we're led by Ford. He has, he has absolutely and then and there's a follow on from his jennison, which is the next slot, which was no Mark Chivas is uroboros BBC film local, they did amazing movie. I don't know who that was little bit later, sort of in the in the mid 60s. But it is a change of attitude. And you know, a lot of them. Really, a lot of them. The film industry in the Star Wars, film history and Star Wars. One obviously tried to correct that. I'm not saying my students, but one or two certainly came in contact with everyone other schools. And there is a tremendous amount to learn. If you're running out, we had our directors course we had a director scores and a producer's course. And in that we had sub causes of the camera man. And I wanted to do sound which has finally happened in the sound. So in all those, you know, in two years time, I mean, you know, you've and they, they all want to make two films each one of about 10 minutes and one of half an hour at least. And that isn't a lot of work. And this is scripting, which is incredibly important. So if you're trying to get through 30 films of this sword, made by editors, basically, who tried to professional in order to teach them the professional way of making films, there is very little time to sit down and study. Unfortunately, the philosophy of Eisenstein in the in the pre 32 years,
Rodney Giesler 27:43
I've got a bit of a highfalutin attitude, I admit to because I've always said that you have film sense, or you haven't got film setups, and I'm not talking as a sign book. There is something instinctive in moviemaking. When you choose a centre, you choose a camera movement, you choose a point that is accidental is built in Africa, and it's built into you something you can't learn any more than you can really learn to write, or learn to write poetry. You can be guided, guided and technique. You have got film sense, obviously, from your work, you can see it. If someone hasn't got film sense, it can't be taught to them, can it? I mean, is there someone who is film obtuse and goes to a film school and comes out as a filmmaker?
Christopher Miles 28:39
No, I know what you mean. It's the same arguments used about painting and about sculpture, I mean, you know, cannot painter be taught. The end, I think you can sharpen the facilities of the faculties, or the faculties I should say, of the person. And it's surprising, have some good cogent lessons, how you can make or help someone to draw reasonably well. In a course of the two weeks of constantly slaving away in a model or a sole life, they become aware of certain rules to do with proportion to do with distance to do with horizons and to do with perspective. I'm just doing an example of drawing and the film I mean, and film there are certain rules to do with cutting tempo, placement for camera, there must be rules they are they are a language of filmmaking. And this can be brought somebody who might be not quite so as you say, as immediate film sense. And the medium says the person I'm not too worried about him and there they are. They've got it. I think I think most of them comes along because by this time have been weeded out. I mean deaf ears as it is postgraduate and Quite frankly, they already presented to me their work. They really had a portfolio of of film they had made or, or worked on or script. So one is what has a very large selection of people. I mean, we the the interviews go on for two weeks or more weeding out people who want to go to college. So I don't think that's a worry to us there. I make damn sure I get the fulfils. What we got to do is improve on that film sense and get some order into it. and professionalism. I mean, a lot of people don't agree with this idea of mine at all. I mean, they think the last the college is to sit down and, and, and totally let everything hang out and muddle through. Basically. The problem with films again, some of the other arts, like painting and sculpture is that basically you are your own, you're not really beholden to anybody, you haven't got to talk to anyone, you don't have to tell somebody what the story is behind your painting. You the story of painting the story within paintings, as in their own Nicholas prusa, who have just seen every penny an incredible story behind the story going on in the sounds of speakers, Enzo Aphrodite, didn't want to speak to Ganymede, because Narcissus was in the way of amazing Greek mythology behind each each painting. The revolution got that problem in venues today. And but in film is a different a different matter. You have got to talk to other people. You've got to communicate, you've got to organise your thoughts and prepare them. You've got to prepare a budget. You've got to write a script. You don't have a script, you you you do a lot of other scripts. But I mean, on the whole, if you care, Hitchcock, you know what he said? I mean, three important things about a film and script, the script in the script. And how does you know as a postgraduate, shouldn't you be getting on with this? The people will argue me, no, you should know that my wasn't my predecessors. They were doing films about one electric fire. I know one film that was on an electric fire. And they turned on the three bars of the rectifier. After one minute each. Post monitors, I had no idea. I mean, they know fine. But I don't think that's going to get you a job in which they all want. They all want to get a job. And I mean, I mean, I mean, are you are you teaching academics to become academics? I mean, are you? Are you in fact, really preparing everybody to go and teach? Or are you preparing some filmmakers who want to see how they make movies? I think, in fact, I'm damn sure that 99% of people there wanted to go out and make make films. They didn't want to go on teaching them.
Unknown Speaker 32:55
Rodney Giesler 32:57
an argument was developing in my mind when you were talking about a painter as opposed to a filmmaker, a painter can sit and contemplate and bring up his own thoughts without the help or reference to anyone. And I'm thinking of a very exceptional person who was also a painter in Humphrey Jennings.
Unknown Speaker 33:16
Rodney Giesler 33:18
German dozer is an old mate of mine, I interviewed him and he was Humphries assistant on listen to Britain. He is and he's in. He talked a lot about average earnings. And one of the things he said was, Humphrey Jennings never started by making the film he finished. And he would go out and of course, you couldn't do it and the Ministry of Information days crown during the war, shooting masses and stuff with the Blitz of factories of evacuees of land girls. And it ended up in Cannes, but as long as you remember which shot was in which can you suddenly connected about two years later?
Christopher Miles 33:52
Rodney Giesler 33:54
The walls this this thing? I mean, if you if you studied some of the sequences and Jennings films were seemingly totally disconnected images come together with a poetic idea. Yes, that's the nearest you get, I think touring artists working
Christopher Miles 34:06
in the world is only I think you're right. I think that because you're using, you're using, you're using existing material. In other words, you're using the real life as it is. And you're manipulating that real life on an editing table to create some burglary or rhythm or light and images that are that are different from the black or the crafted film that contains actors, costume sets, and all the problems that go with that script.
Rodney Giesler 34:36
You see a parallel to Janet Jennings and I'd be very interested to have your reactions Tony Harrison.
Unknown Speaker 34:42
Rodney Giesler 34:43
I don't know if you saw his black daisies for the bride.
Christopher Miles 34:46
No, I didn't. But I know the vibe of the film and whether or
Rodney Giesler 34:49
not he is another gentleman's to me because he is next, in a very poignant way. with pictures of these women on their wedding days contrasted with their present state. Yes, in our home. suffering from Alzheimer's.
Christopher Miles 35:01
Yes, I remember that. Remember that? It was it was a shootout on television, wasn't it? Yes, yes.
Rodney Giesler 35:07
I put it up to BAFTA, but it just got lost because I don't think anyone saw it. And to me this is modern television poetry. We were saying Are there any poets and creative people who could leave their signatures over a television programme? Tony Harrison is the first person I've seen who does this mean if you under their name Gary Vee, you know, the one that had all the
Christopher Miles 35:27
explosions and the purchase? Yes, that's right. Yes,
Rodney Giesler 35:30
he is. He is going through this vandalised Cemetery in Leeds,
Christopher Miles 35:34
always. Mm, why, again, where all the fans
Rodney Giesler 35:36
come through the cemetery and they spray gun all the all the all the Doom is the team's name. And there's a husband and wife too, and with United spray painter. Now that to me is is Jennings poetry imagery. He is he is a sort of heir to that, but I can't think of many other people.
Christopher Miles 35:55
Well, that's it. The ability to do that is in any in a very acute awareness and a quickness of thought. Combined with that, a marshalling of elements that you can use later on, it is a different, it is a different technique, and it also different talent. From preparing redoing a film from a prepared script. Obviously, it requires, I think, a totally different approach. I'm not against that we actually did. I'm not I'm not, I'm not four years, I'm not saying that. What I had to do was repair them as I was they were most interested in, which was the there's a dramatic film, where you went from a script that we were getting into documentary of that sort, which is using your ability to model and quickly assemble ideas from a visual elements that you see before you. And we were starting to work on that when I left. But I do review we did this. We really discussed two very small elements had to do with filmmaking. Emily, it does cover a very large range. And that's why I think a three day course each week on philosophy wouldn't wouldn't would not have been popular. But that person was doing really
Rodney Giesler 37:16
well. This is a different extreme. I mean, we're talking about the immediacy of journalistic television. And I don't mean this in a disparaging way. When you were talking about your, your mountain project, with the legendary, poetic Yes, I think Tony Harrison is probably very lucky. He's obviously got a good protector.
Christopher Miles 37:36
He has the money. Yes, I'm to do this. It is a jewel time enormous exuma time. But I'm not sure that it's it's like the the the the films of improvisation. It's possible Dave was acting me? No, no, the director I was doing the modern British comedy. Lee, Mike Lee. Yes. Michael is, it does tend to be hit or miss. Frankly, somebody is marvellous and exciting. But it definitely depends on your actors and the bunch around you, and also the tremendous leesy and help from a producer who's willing to go ahead on a project that has no script, and then have not many, you know, Mike Lee's around then that's a problem that I didn't meet one of his ex producers who came out very scarred from the experience. And although the film was successful, he said he didn't know wanted to do it again, is just too much wherever you do enter into a project and to raise money on something that had nothing on paper.
Rodney Giesler 38:57
Finally, if I can ask you, you mentioned the plumed serpent serpent, right. Would you say that is your once you've achieved that is have you achieved your total ambition in filmmaking? Or is that something you Will you still be aiming for easier
Christopher Miles 39:12
as I see what I mean that is a long term project that I mean is is had its difficulties. Basically do refinancing The story is still forbidden in Mexico so we have a problem of the other sensor because as Louis Lawrence, he hit the nail on the head and they are frightened of the dark Gods will eventually reappear again. No, it's something I'd like to do because I've been I've been spent a lot of time and research and energies on it and one Latin I would like to see those that that accomplished is a very odd thing. It's in a way it's like writing a large musical score, or probably an opera and which gives you Men satisfaction and doing research and work on the libretto and the orchestration, but you actually never see it performed is is a great disappointment. And I think, in this case, the film is the same to me that sort of position. I mean, no, I've got a lot of other things I'd like to do and and I hope there's time to do them. I mean, you know, as I said, there's the film version of the clandestine marriage with Nigel Hawthorne. I'm working on as well. We shall see.
Rodney Giesler 40:36
Thank you very much for talking to me.
Christopher Miles 40:38
Well, you're on the verge of being so patient.