This is my page for memories from the past – live action shoots with sets large & small built in studios or on location, fully staffed Art Departments, more than one day for the shoot and not too much “we’ll fix it in post”
( except for Alton Towers Hotel where post “saved the day!” )
As a producer, I didn’t often make it into the industry papers – the Director or Creatives responsible for the script always being of more interest. Here are a couple:
LACK OF HEALTH & SAFETY CONCERNS
The winner for this is probably this Gleneagles shoot. A new bottled water being launched by WCRS when Phil Dupee and I were working for the Head of Television Simon Wells. SFX cutting edge script inspired by the water face from The Abyss – but on a tiny portion of their budget! Motion control shoot in Cell, CGI by Phil Hurrell (SVC then & now Coffee & TV owner). We had to film a model in the water acting out all the moves – water was freezing and lights were positioned all around – think I do remember asking if they could be tied off to avoid a major incident! Our lady was a trooper, she stayed in the tank – smoking to take her mind of the temperature… Notice the end frame title which was actually painted on to a pane of glass… no danger of a creative change of mind – words once agreed tended to remain!
SCARIEST LOCATION SHOOT
Was for the new Alton Towers Hotel – still being built and we could only shoot exteriors in November but the brief was for the commercial to “look like summer”. Director Philip Dupee. My brilliant production team was Amanda Brown – now Directing Selling Houses in Australia and David Hay who is Executive Producer for Framestore Design.
Interiors blue screen (fore-runner of the green option) done in a separate studio shoot.
A very cold drive up with a few flakes of snow night before the shoot. In the morning however, it was thick snow on the ground with plenty more falling from the sky. The shoot had to go on as no weather insurance in place, air date approaching and we could only access the hotel in this pre booked slot.
Solution was Rob Harvey (Cell Henry Operator – winner of Oscar for SFX on Gladiator) and Tom Russell (brilliant Telecine /Colourist from VTR) saving the day in post…. Tom telecined out the falling snow by using a noise reduction button and Rob replicated the few clean roof titles & bits of floor area around the fountain that we had shot. End result was you could just about believe it was a great exterior shot of an interesting hotel taken in mid summer.
TV IDENT LAUNCH WITH MOST PROBLEMS
Carlton which replaced Thames Television in the London area. Directed by Martin Lambie-nairn and Daniel Barber. Beset with problems with a tight deadline I seem to remember.
Cutting edge creative decision to work with “real people” long before that was such a common solution… they had to be from the London area and were required to speak as well as look good.
“You’re watching Carlton, television for London”. It worked brilliantly to remove the Thames name from the viewer's mind.
Casting was hairy – the official casting director struggled & eventually stood down for me and my production team to take over to complete in time for the shoot. As Martin was involved with Spitting Image we got to use the Queen puppet in one ident too!
Worse than that, once we had done all the editing, the final D1 master tapes refused to play in the new television station machines a day or so before launch date – it was something to do with settings on the recording machine being incompatible with the play machine I think…
All shot in the Moving Picture Company's original Noel Street studio in Central London with gobo/dingle/simple shadow effect.
See the lovely Terence Donovan who agreed to take part. He often asked Martin & Daniel to deal with “some of that computer bollocks” for him for various bits of his own work (translation being “could we handle the special effects for him….”)
More Nostalgia to follow as I find it…..