A Sort of Innocence – James French

Behind the Scenes; A Sort of Innocence from pebblemill on Vimeo.

Video copyright, James French, no reproduction without permission.

James French has provided the following information about this behind the scenes footage which he recorded on location for A Sort of Innoncence, known as ‘The Hereford Project’ at the time. The first sequence is by the river in Hereford and the other involves a low-loader being rigged at Chateau Impney in Droitwich Spa:

This was a two camera shoot using CM2 and I (James French) was second camera, Keith Salmon camera. The cameras were Philips LDK 514s with Angenieux lenses for the techie-types.

The Director was John Gorrie. You hear him but don’t see him in the first sequence. The 1st AD is Peter Rose, who went on to direct several soaps including Crossroads, Eastenders and Coronation Street. Main actor: Kenneth Cranham. Boy: Neil Jeffery, LD: Barry Chatfield, Sparks: Dave Walter, Sound: Tony Wass, Tim Everett.

It was in 1986 I think.

I am embarrassed that I can’t remember the grip’s name and I think the cable basher is rigger, Barry but can’t remember his surname.

Second clip

EM: Dave Robinson, Spark: Roger Hynes (can’t remember the other guy), Director: John Gorrie seen sitting on the kerb in the early panning shot, Engineer: Peter Eggleston, Vision Mixer: Roger Sutton, Rigger: George Stephenson, Editor: Mike Bloore.

Here is the Radio Times entry from the first episode courtesy of the BBC Genome project:

A six-part serial by ALICK ROWE Episode 1 starring
Kenneth Cranham Cheryl Campbell Michael Byrne
Introducing Neil Jeffery Elizabeth Fellowes seems well suited to life in a small cathedral town. Her husband, Mark, teaches at the cathedral school where her son, Tim, is a chorister. Unknown to the family, boardroom battles are taking place elsewhere. These are to have a dramatic effect on their future lives together.
Music composed by RICHARD HARVEY Script editor JENNY SHERIDAN Designers
MYLES LANG. AMANDA ATKINSON Producer RUTH BOSWELL Director JOHN GORRIE

genome.ch.bbc.co.uk/56046536e8054c6fb2167b2d10c5920f

 

behind the scenes on A Sort of Innocence

behind the scenes on A Sort of Innocence

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The following comments were left on the Pebble Mill Facebook page:

Diana Lester: ‘Thanks James, I cannot believe that was over 30 years ago. …lovely to see faces from the past, many who unfortunately are no longer with us ….and we all look so young !!’

Karen Lamb: ‘Hearing Keith’s voice again was so special saying “don’t point it at the sun” such wonderful memories working on crew 5.’

Dawn/Kevin Hudson: ‘Great memories,the grip was Ronnie Fleet, and the fella brushing the path was affectionately known as Gonzo.’

Richard Stevenson: ‘Great clip. Is Tim booming wearing a tie?! Those were the days.’

The Old Curiosity Shop

Jim Gray

Jim Gray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Jim Gray on 4

Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Jim Gray on 4

Tony Wigley on crane, Keith Froggatt swinging

Tony Wigley on crane, Keith Froggatt swinging

Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Keith Forggatt swinging and Martyn Suker

Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Keith Forggatt swinging and Martyn Suker

John Couzens talks to director, Tony Wigley on crane, Richard Reynolds on boom

John Couzens talks to director, Tony Wigley on crane, Richard Reynolds on boom

Closing credits, Jim Gray back to camera

Closing credits, Jim Gray back to camera

Studio A

Studio A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright James French, no reproduction without permission.

The Old Curiosity Shop was a nine part series which went out in from December 1979 to February 1980. Barry Letts was the producer, Julian Amyes the director, Alistair Bell the script editor, William Trevor wrote the script adaptation, Michael Edwards was the production designer and Peter Booth was the lighting designer.

The cast included Sebastian Shaw as grandfather, Trevor Peacock as Daniel Quilp, Natalie Ogle as Little Nell, Granville Saxton as Dick Swiveller,  Wensley Pithey as the Single Gentlemen, and Christopher Fairbank as Kit Nubbles.

The photos are of:

  • Jim Gray
  • Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Jim Gray on 4
  • Tony Wigley on crane & Keith Froggatt swinging.
  • Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Keith Froggatt swinging & Martyn Suker tracking.
  • A typical set
  • John Couzens, with arms folded, talks to the director (Julian Amyes). Tony Wigley on Mole crane, Richard Reynolds on boom.
  • Doing the closing credits. Jim Gray back to camera. Scene hands’ names may be Dick & Phil?

Thanks to James French for sharing the photos.

Studio A. Jim Gray. Contributed by James French.

EMI 2001 Camera (Part 2) – Keith Brook (Scouse)


EMI 2001, Bob Langley, Keith Brook

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright resides with the original holder, no reproduction without permission. (Keith Brook on camera, with Pebble Mill at One presenter, Bob Langley)

EMI 2001 Part 2

In Part 1 I gave a little background to how the Emmy became the size it was by having the Angénieux lens inside the camera.

Here, I’ll show how the compact design had implications that went much further than just the technology and positively affected the quality of programmes, especially drama.

With the early colour cameras, one of the major problems of having a large lens hanging out the front was that as you panned there was a pronounced side-to-side tracking effect from the front element swinging through a large arc. This was most unnatural on drama and some cameramen compensated by tracking the ped in the opposite direction. Not an easy feat with such a cumbersome camera.

On the Emmy, the front of the lens was much closer to the pivot point, as was the cameraman at the other end, and with the steering ring back to its original size, the whole beast became far more compact and manoeuvrable. There are probably loads of other benefits that my colleagues will remind me of, but for me, with the cameraman closer to the drama, the most important of all was that the cameramen became actors in the scenes.

You may find this a strange concept but it was Tim Hardy, ‘Siegfried’ in ‘All Creatures Great and Small’ (yes, that’s his real name), who told me this. He also said the crew gave the cast reassurance, often simply by the body language we were giving off as scenes progressed. Other actors had said the same. I vision-mixed ‘All Creatures’ and I was also surprised when he told me that occasionally the cue lights helped him pace a scene.

The fabulous US anti-terrorist series ’24’ stars Kiefer Sutherland. He has often said that Guy Skinner, their excellent cameraman, was the third actor in the scene.

And it was with us as we danced around the sets, with our ‘short’ Emmys on Vinten peds, matching the actors moves.

Malcolm Carr, ex-BBC Manchester, did an wonderful piece here about the Emmy and mentioned the ‘shot box’. It’s impossible to underestimate just how important that magical device was, especially on drama.

Earlier I said that we often had only a few words, sometimes less than a second, to change the shot size. Zooming manually, you couldn’t guarantee matching the other camera, so EMI kindly added the ‘shot box’ to Monsieur Angénieux’s lens which allowed us to pre-set the lens angles and reproduce them every time. It had 6 memories; 1 and 6 were set to the tight and wide ends and the middle 4, using a chart, were set to match the angles of the old turret lenses 9, 18, 24 and 36 degrees. This wasn’t some attempt at keeping the ‘old tradition’ but rather a nod to the artistic reason why the fixed lenses were the size they were.

A quick word on ‘lens angles’. If you imagine lines coming from the lens and going out to the objects that you see on the left and right of the frame, that’ll give you the lens angle. It’s more intuitive than talking focal length because you can visualise it as you look over the top of the camera.

Ah, I digressed again.

These four lens angles gave us a number of ‘natural’ frame sizes, when related to actors, and they are, CU (close up, 9deg), MCU (medium close up, 18), MS (mid-shot, 24) and MLS (medium long shot, 36). The reason they’re natural is that they enable the actors eyes or centre of interest, as the shot gets wider, to stay on the golden third. The ‘thirds’ split a frame into three equally horizontal and vertical parts and are found in all aspects of art.

So, from one position, we could quickly select the CU, MCU, MS and MLS sizes. That’s not to say we didn’t move the cameras, but keeping things simple enabled a drama to play out inside the ‘natural’ frames with no distractions.

As a result, such dramas as ‘Poldark’, a 50 minute costume drama, were recorded in 50 minutes. Yes, real time!!

Knowing that a mis-frame, wrong lens, wrong position from a camera and a mis-move, wrong line, wrong position from an actor would mean that the whole caravan would have to stop certainly concentrated our minds and cheeks. Keeping that up for 50 minutes was so exciting and, I believe, produced the highest quality drama.

There are many people nowadays who say that those programmes are boring but they forget that the essence of a good drama is that the viewer is immersed in, and not distracted by, the system that they’re watching. If you analyse cinema films, they generally let the actors move inside a static frame. This represents what you would see if you were in the same room. Your head would stay level and you’d watch the actors killing each other. Sure, action films shake the camera quite violently, but you must first know the rules before you can break them.

As this is about the camera itself, I haven’t mentioned physically moving them around the studio on peds, that may be another missive!!

Anyway, back to the plot. The Emmy wasn’t just an innovative engineering design, it also enabled cameraman to produce fluid moves very quickly allowing the crew to be significantly involved in the intimate world of drama.

The EMI 2001, what a wonderful camera.

Keith Brook (Scouse)