Ithaca Times


Interview with Filmmaker Brian Trenchard-Smith

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Wednesday, November 14, 2012 12:00 am

Ithaca Times: We are rolling.

Brian Trenchard-Smith: Rolling, I like the sound of that word, you know? It suggests film that’s rolling through the camera. Of course, there’s precious little of that these days [sighs].

I’m deeply upset about the digital technology: “Work faster” becomes more and more important in these low-budget movies. I had to shoot my last picture Deception in fifteen 10-hour days with actors, plus 2 days of car chase with doubles and a reduced crew. This mandated a camera package that enabled me to get a lot of coverage fast.

The Red Scarlett is a compact digital camera that shoots 4K, allowing the director to re-size shots in the edit bay. I could get a medium shot and a close up out of the same shot if necessary. I added two 5 D's, the size of a still camera that shoots 2K, to the package, so we could get more angles simultaneously.

I added 2 Go Pros, tiny sports show cameras for the 2 days of car chase photography, mainly for shots of vehicles passing over or within inches of the lens, because they are cheap if damaged or destroyed. I could never have achieved the number of images I needed to tell the story in the style I wanted, if I had shot 35mm, not digital.

IT: One of the reasons I was excited to speak to you is that your career spans the film industry from pre-digital to digital. When did you switch from flatbed or Kem to the Avid?

BT-S: I think when I did a few episodes of the new Mission: Impossible in 1988 and ’89, that’s when the editorial process went digital for us.

Prior to that it was the Kem, and you could hold the film up to the light, you could touch it, it was tangible. You felt a direct connection, a physical connection with the product you were manufacturing, in an industrial sense. You felt, during editing, that you were working with your hands, that noble pursuit, but … [laughs] I suppose you are still working with your hands when you tap a mouse and tap a few keys, but although I’ve done a lot of work in digital, I prefer to work with someone who’s faster with the fingers than I am. So I supervise [and say] “Cut five more frames,” and it happens in front of me.

So in terms of personally editing any more, I don’t do that. I suppose I should. But I have so much to do that having someone as my hands who’s also a good brain and has good taste and understands the movie and can maybe show me something I didn’t think of is preferable.

I’ve been editing since I’ve been making 8mm films in England, from [age] 15 onwards, and news film cutting and promo making and trailer making for theatrically based films, I’ve made over a hundred trailers for theatrical films. It's grammar and syntax.

IT: I always shot what I edited, and it forces you to pre-visualize from the moment you shoot. I couldn’t imagine just handing my footage to an editor. I have to be in the room at least to say, “Cut five more frames.”

 BT-S: Of course, in the executive suite, a lot of people covet the editorial process, so now anyone can get an editing program on their laptop.

IT: It’s great.

BT-S: But understanding the ebb and flow of drama is fundamental to being able to edit.

IT: Apart from the art of writing, I think the cutting room is a great place to learn how to make films. You find out what you need, what you don’t and what you can get away with.

BT-S: Yeah, that was my feeling. When I first started cutting news at age 20, I really began to understand various devices to make disparate footage glue together, and that was a great education, the tools that you use in news cutting and then later in promo cutting. It was educational.

Take it from me; I used to say afterwards, “If you can cut news, you can cut anything.” [laughs]

But I did have a couple of alarming little mistakes. Once upon a time, there was a spy – I can’t remember what his name was – and there was a rumor that he might be in disguise, flying to Australia on a particular flight. And therefore a bunch of police cars and the dog squad went to the airport, and we got footage of them arriving, we had a little crew over there. And there were great shots of German Shepherds being brought out of paddy wagons.

So I was busy cutting the story. And you get the shots that you want and you hang them on a pin rack, the shots that you want. Unfortunately there was a dog show story that I was also cutting, and unfortunately, one of my dog show shots, I mistook it for one of the shots of the German Shepherds being unloaded from the paddy wagon, and it got spliced in. Somewhat embarrassing.

IT: I believe we call that a “disorienting effect”.

BT-S: Yes, yes, yes. Anyway, I think a beautifully coiffed poodle somehow was part of the law enforcement posse that descended on New Zealand Airport.

But that was one of the things about having tangible pieces of film to put together. That was fun. Anyway, I very much embrace the digital age. You know, to be able to shoot for 45 minutes if necessary on one card and never say, “Cut,” if you don’t want to, is a liberator.

When I did [the TV movie] DC 9/11: Time of Crisis, I had all these cabinet meetings where Bush was talking with various cabinet members, everything that was said. And there were 17 people around this table. And everyone had to have to a reaction shot to the proceedings. But I would set up a rail on one side of the table, and framed a close-up of, say, the transportation secretary, and got his reactions and slid the camera down the rail without cutting, did the scene again, on and on, and I just kept rolling for 25 minutes, and got everybody’s reactions on one side of the table. And that helped us get good coverage in the amount of time we had to shoot the scene.

Well, time is money, and you have to accept the fact that filmmaking is an industrial process, it is a manufacturing process, and every step of the way costs money. And it might also be an art form, but you’re not painting with oils, you’re painting with money. And so you have to be disciplined about how you throw your paint onto the canvas.

IT: You’ll be on the jury at Fantastic Fest here; I was wondering if you could talk about that and your experiences at these festivals, where the attention is on your body of work.

BT-S: Well, I think it’s a great honor to be asked to be on a jury, I have never been on a jury before. I’ve had some experience at festivals, but I’ve never been on the jury, so – no, I tell a lie, there was a festival in Australia called “Night of Horror” and I was on the jury of that, that’s right, that’s right.

IT: What was that like?

BT-S: [laughs] Well, the reason I forgot about it was that I was not actually there! [laughs] I did my jury duty here in Los Angeles, while screening the DVDs, and then in conference call with jury members in Australia, and then we made our decision. And I gave a particular award to Samurai Avenger: The Blind Wolf, which was a riff on Japanese samurai movies, kind of Zatoichi Meets Lone Wolf and Cub; that was really quite good. A bloody good film for under 200,000.

It did well on DVD and all over the world, but it really captures the spirit of those Zatoichi movies [also known as the Baby Cart Films], some of the less-known cult Japanese movies, all those movies that I used to enjoy as a young man. That’s been my festival experience, really.

IT: Given that you’ll be looking at some new films here in Ithaca, do you get to see many films in general? Have you seen anything lately?

BT-S: Well, I always find something to enjoy in every film, though there are obviously some films I find disappointing. For instance, I found The Master a little impenetrable, and I wonder why this was worth spending 35 million on, and why couldn’t it have been made with the same content and maybe even the same actors and maybe reduced the scale slightly, all sorts of tricks of the trade.

Magnolia and Boogie Nights, great, but There Will Be Blood, hmm, I certainly didn’t abide the ending, but it was certainly very watchable, until it reached a resolution that, mind you, wasn’t a real resolution at all. But who am I to criticize the great practitioners who get the big budgets.

IT: And to shoot in 70 millimeter while they still can. He loves film.

BT-S: Yes! It was an interesting idea to shoot in 70 millimeter, but what real difference would that make to the bulk of the audience that would see it? I mean, you could shoot it in 4K and make arrangements to project it in 4K, and the end result is cheaper than 70 millimeter.

But last night, I saw Pablo Larraín’s No, the film about the Madison Avenue advertising techniques that won the plebiscite against Chile's dictator Pinochet, and it was kind of a docudrama that looked like it was shot with cell phone cameras, and I think that was a deliberate choice, and this was really … there were some really muddy images, and an object in what we once used to call cinema verite, and so I admired that film enormously.

But my taste ranges from trash with flash to good foreign films. I love subtitled films. And three, the main thing that holds the attention is an upstart genre with pizzazz. I mean, I’m looking forward to seeing Skyfall, which I understand is a state of the art action film.

IT: They really have to come back after the last one. The first car chase in Quantum of Solace was so inept; I knew the movie was screwed. Some of the Bonds are better than the others, but even the lesser ones had competent action sequences.

BT-S: Well, it’s this blisteringly fast cutting between long lens shots that I find, while supposedly generates some spurious sense of energy, I think it’s disorienting. It’s as if you’re trying to see something through windscreen wipers, and I don’t go for that modern style of “shaky-cam” and machine-gun editing. You know, the cameraman has hiccups, or St. Vitus’ dance, and the images are always framed very close to the participants. I like to see their feet.

IT: Yeah, it’s like musical numbers.

BT-S: Exactly, exactly. And that’s one of the big criticisms of the movie A Chorus Line was that you don’t see their feet enough.

IT: Wasn’t there a disclaimer at the end of Chicago swearing all the actors did their own dancing. You never saw a disclaimer like that on Yankee Doodle Dandy because it was obvious that James Cagney did all his own dancing.

BT-S: Yes, that’s right.

IT: I was seeing your films right at the age where you start to look for the director’s name, and when I saw your name, I knew I was going to see clear, lean action. You always know where you are in whatever space. I think with all the handheld shakycam nowadays, action scenes suffer because it’s more “figure it out in editing” than having a plan.

BT-S: Well, I have a great deal to say in the cutting room, and you plan a sequence so that it will all cut together. Okay, I’ve got to cross the line here, so how am I going to cross the line and get to this perspective of the set wall? I can’t just cut to it, so I’ve got to create a movement that will shift the audience’s perspective from left to right and right to left. That has to be planned, and that’s all part of the process.

I shot-list my films in advance in pre-production. I don’t necessarily speak to the shot-list; it changes on the day. I only storyboard, let’s say, really key pieces of action, where a verbal interpretation could be subject to misinterpretation or misunderstanding. But basically, I shot-list all the whole film, even pointing out where the close-ups are most likely to go in a dialogue scene, and then we set about doing it.

I don’t necessarily make an actor turn on a comma in the script, so it’s not as set in stone as that. I like to give the actors freedom. But I’ve surveyed the locations, you get a master from this position, and then he’s gonna walk past camera, we’re gonna follow him through there and that gets us to that. A scene like that enables the crew to get ahead of the game, and lay dolly track and all that. So you’re not waiting for everything.

In 18 hours of filmmaking, you can’t sit and say, “Hmm, what are we doing again? Oh, okay, let’s work this out.” A certain amount of it’s gotta be worked out in advance. Obviously, actors will have input, particularly during rehearsal, but sometimes you just don’t get that luxury.

IT: I come from the theater; I think rehearsal is only helpful, if you can schedule some.

BT-S: They say, “Hey, [rehearsal] costs money.” These guys have to fly in, they have to be paid for the extra days, that’s extra accommodation on the star, maybe the star has set dates, he comes in on this date and leaves on that date. You get what you get. That’s the economics of filmmaking currently. Everyone’s looking to manufacture the product faster and faster. In the studio system it’s on the gusher, but we lower-budget people are on the drip-feed.

IT: Back in the day, I liked your stuff and I liked J. Lee Thompson. Did you ever meet him?

BT-S: I wish I had. J. Lee Thompson was one of my heroes. I suppose we retain heroes who inspire us in our mind in those formative cinema-going years: J. Lee Thompson, from Tiger Bay (1959) the film that introduced Hayley Mills to the world, and obviously Cape Fear.

IT: I really liked the later pictures he did with Charles Bronson, like 10 to Midnight and The Evil That Men Do.

BT-S: Yes, he was a good man to handle Bronson. He was ideal for that. But he had a good classical approach to filmmaking. He understood the need for geography, for knowing where you are; show the audience where you are so they can immerse themselves in the environment. But he had a sort of vigor to him.

I worked on the trailer for Mackenna's Gold (1969), which was a slightly troubled Western, but they got it done. It didn’t do the business that The Guns of Navarone (1961) did, but his bacon was saved by the Japanese release, which was apparently hugely successful for whatever reason [laughs] with the Japanese audience.

So I saw a long cut before the shorter cut came in for the trailer to be made from. It was interesting to me to study a film the first time when I started making trailers for National Screen Services, it was my first time seeing films that weren’t quite finished in their semi-directors cut, a version that was sent to the trailer company or we’d be invited to a special screening, sometimes when the British censor was present, making his advance ruling on what certificate this film would get, based on the version he’s being shown. And they were always very interesting screenings to attend.

But J. Lee Thompson was certainly a hero of mine; I loved Anthony Mann’s cool style, I liked Robert Aldrich’s style, Henry Hathaway, he did a lot of interesting work. You can go back even further, to people like Raoul Walsh, King Vidor and obviously, John Ford.

There are some films that some of these great filmmakers did that will live forever, and The Searchers (1956) will live forever. It has such an authentic sense of period, in the attitudes of the characters, and the way the film, the sets were dressed, it becomes a sort of historical artifact. And it rapidly immerses you in that period.

So I guess I was influenced by all the great Hollywood filmmakers of the ‘50s and early ‘60s, and then, of course, along came people like [Sidney] Lumet , who’s a brilliant filmmaker, too, right up to his last film made in his ‘80s.

I also have a sneaking regard for a lesser-known filmmaker named Gordon Douglas, who probably had the misfortune to remake Stagecoach, for which I’m sure he can be forgiven. But he had a vigorous style.

Then there’s Sam Fuller, obviously and his influence on me for the film The Siege of Firebase Gloria. Yeah, as well as Richard Fleischer’s Between Heaven and Hell (1956) and other Pacific theater World War II films.

I made Firebase as my Pacific theater WWII film in Vietnam dress, with Vietnam politics involved. Have you seen that one?

IT: No. 

BT-S: Oh. Well, if you like our other stuff, you’ll definitely like that. It’s on DVD and stars the drill sergeant from Full Metal Jacket, R. Lee Ermey, and ‘80s DVD star Wings Hauser.

IT: Another aspect of your career I find fascinating is all the smaller production companies both here and abroad that aren’t around anymore. You’d see these movies in theaters or on TV or tape with exotic logos, and it’s like Butch Cassidy: “Who are those guys?”

BT-S: [laughs] Look, I mean, it’s the quick and the dead in this business. Once upon a time, people and companies had money to develop a script, with the increasing diminution of the writer in the whole process. Writers are expected to write and re-write spec scripts for nothing, and they don’t even get a bigger fee for doing that, but …

Once upon a time, you could say to a working writer who made his living writing screen drama, “Okay, we’re gonna hire you for this and write a treatment, and if that works, we’ll do a first draft and so forth.” It was treated like a profession. These days, so much of independent film and low-budget genre film is the sort of stuff that turns up on cable.

IT: Right. Some of the best movies are TV shows, but I think you’re talking about something else.

BT-S: Yeah, look, those writers are great and they’re treated properly. But the high-end cable and network level need good writers. I mean, those shows stand out.

IT: Let’s take a movie like Dead-End Drive-In. How did that come to you? Was it a submission? Was it your idea? Were you pitching it around?

BT-S: That had been developed by a state film funding body in Australia, and they had a director in mind. And neither he nor they were particularly happy with the way it was going, and he thought, “Look, I don’t think this film is going to work, I think it’s going to end up being silly, so thanks, but I’m moving on.”

So then they approached me, and I looked at the three drafts [of the screenplay] and then basically cobbled together the best version out of all three. And they liked that, and they accepted my ideas, and away we went.

It was a labor of love, it was made for $2.3 million, and over 35 split day-nights, starting at 3:30, four in the afternoon, and shooting into the night, sometimes until we reached dawn. When in the story our hero drives through the sign over the box office and it was meant to happen at dawn, wee did that at the precise moment of sundown, because you can then prepare a complex stunt for several hours in daylight, rather than darkness.

It worked, I thought. It’s very much got my personal stamp on it. There are those who criticized it when it came out who said it lacked subtlety. “And your point is?”

It’s a socio-political allegory of a retro-future, if you like. It is a story of what might happen in an economic breakdown when the government comes up with a radical new idea on how to deal with youth unemployment and youth crime.

In other words, instead of throwing them in jail, maybe create a place that they would want to go to, because it gives them all the junk values of their culture: junk food, junk movies, junk sex, junk drugs. And let them find their own society in these drive-ins, and they won’t be out in the streets, breaking into your home and stealing your DVD machine, or whatever.

I wrote the opening title cards that showed the progression of the societal breakdown, or the economic breakdown, and put quite a few visual elements of my own thinking in to devise the wet-down, neon look of the film. We got real graffiti artists to come in and paint all the walls of the drive-in, giving it a unique look if nothing else.

IT: One thing I love about some of the films from that period: if you kept the budgets low, you could insert some fairly radical ideas and politics tucked into all the violence and nudity. I think Death Race 2000 cost $400,000 and they run over the President at the end. I knew the Jason Statham remake would omit that satirical, radical content.

BT-S: And look, they remade Death Race 2000 at a much bigger budget with a very big action star, and the public went “Ehhh” because there weren’t any fresh ideas in it any more.

IT: If you want Dawn of the Dead without that satirical content, just watch the Zack Snyder version.

BT-S: Yes, exactly. I really do prefer the original, and of course, the very original Night of the Living Dead. When you consider how daring it was to have a black man control a situation and shout at white people [laughs]! For 1968, good on you, George Romero.

This was a bold but very wise choice, and so the film has a level of interest because of the racial element in it. I like genre cocktails, where there’s a bit of this and a bit of that, and stir vigorously. What are the elements I want to put together in this mixture?

When I came on board for Megiddo: The Omega Code 2 (2001), I thought, I’m going to have a bit of a sly smile at some of this stuff, not being a Pentecostal Christian myself. But if the Pentecostal Christians want to give me $20 million to make a film, I’m not going to say no. So I thought, what are my genre aspirations in this rather confused screenplay I‘ve been given? Let’s straighten it out along the following lines: let’s say it’s The Omen (1976) meets Air Force One (1997), with a bit of End of Days (1999).

IT: [laughs]

BT-S: And they fight the Battle of the Bulge, and are awarded with the Second Coming! I mean, those are some nice elements to put into your martini. And so I proceeded along those lines.

It was a fun film to make, and primarily, the faithful have seen it. But I can tell you, it did have a slight sense of humor, even sub textually, it’s a fun film to see. It was interesting to see it with a mixed audience of Pentecostals and secular hedonists, and it was interesting to see where either side of the audience laughed, or they both laughed, or the Christians cheered. So it was interesting to see it, ultimately. It’s a fun romp [laughs], nit usually what happens with a religious film.

I would say it’s the opposite of Mel Gibson’s torture porn. That’s why in Dead End Drive-In, I put the John Landis movie into the poster for Into the Night (1985) in the projection box. And it’s little things like that that I … it’s becoming harder to do that, because the executive suite all want to cut out any eccentric riffs …

IT: You mean personality?

BT-S: Yes, at some companies, you are obliged to check your personality at the door. And they don’t want someone with a sense of fun necessarily giving [films] a sense of fun and using genre references for people who won’t appreciate such things.

But I had total freedom on my early Australian films, and so if I wanted to have a shot – a low-angle shot in Dead End Drive-In- where there was a chicken pecking at some seeds we put down, and a three-ton police car slowly rumbles toward the chicken. And we would have to see, “Hmm, is he going to run over that chicken? What is the chicken going to do? Is this chicken a metaphor for this segment of the population? What is going to happen here?”

And the vehicle runs right over the chicken, and the chicken pays no attention and keeps pecking at the seeds. I just wanted to do that shot, not for any sort of allegorical content so much as my father always appreciated the use of farmyard animals in scenes. He thought they gave them authenticity, I remember.

And we saw Patton (1970) together, and Patton’s jeep ran over some chickens, actually ran ‘em over in the shot. We thought, “Ooh! Well! That’s something you don’t normally see.” So I thought, “Okay, I wanna do a chicken shot someday, but obviously, I don’t really want to run over a chicken.”

Those were the days when you could express yourself, express your personality as a filmmaker. But that is discouraged in the filmmaking-by-numbers that the bulk of episodic and cable TV represents. However, I take each new assignment as it comes, I let the producers know where I’m coming from, that they should expect a few little quirks, because it’s the quirks that stay in the memory when you’re dealing with genre material that is essentially derivative.

IT: It was great seeing BMX Bandits again. It really was a cable TV staple at one time. I must have seen it 100 times back in the day.

BT-S: Yes, HBO, Showtime and Disney were just rotating it at one time. I must say, a 35 millimeter print never looked as good as the recent Blu-Ray. It has charm.

I was criticized for my cartoonish approach, but hey, it’s a knockabout action comedy chase movie. Let’s go a little over the top, and that’s something that the kids will appreciate. And I am, I suppose, a little over the top in nature myself. Let’s pack it with as much fun and laughs and gasps as we can, and somehow its charm has held.

It has Nicole Kidman in her first starring role. That’s not necessarily the reason it has longevity. It has longevity because it appeals to the young at heart. You could be eight, you could be 15, you could be 55, and there’s a charm and a throwback to a romanticized past. It has timeless appeal.

IT: If you remade it today, they’d have the kids biking away from giant fireballs, but what I liked about it was that the stunts were good, but mostly in the realm of possibility. You didn’t break the laws of physics.

BT-S: No. No, we didn’t. Going over the VW, certainly if you tried to do that, the bicycle seat would make a great impression on your testicles, but …

IT: [Big laugh. (I love hearing “testicles” in an English accent.)]

BT-S: And it did slightly to the stunt rider who did that particular stunt.

Being within the realm of believability is important for action, and I think one of the things that the latest Bond movie is going to show – and I’m trying to avoid seeing any trailers, though I’ve had to see one in the theater – they’re trying to get away from CG and get into real stunt work; the way it used to be done when I was first starting to make action movies in Australia in the very early ‘70s. I got a stunt man, someone who had great promise, Grant Page, under contract for five years, and created vehicles for him to be in. That’s why he is in so many of my early films. He was a guy who, in one shot, could set fire to his pants, dive off 300-foot cliffs and fight the shark! [laughs] He just had an innate ability, he really understood the laws of physics.

So that’s how we taught ourselves to do stunts in the early to mid-‘70s. I find now that CGI takes the believability out of so many things, so the Bond film looks to be done for real. If you like a really well-staged action movie, you should look at The Raid: Redemption.

IT: Oh, my God, yeah! Love it!

BT-S: That was incredible. I hear there were some quite nasty injuries [on the set]. But that really is seeing is believing. They were doing that stuff on concrete floors, and that was just – you know, some of that stuff was just amazing.

IT: I don’t know how it was done, but I really like that bike messenger movie [Maximum Rush]. I thought that was very well done, too.

BT-S: Yes, absolutely! I really liked that. It should have done better than it did. If they had got behind it … it should have been a major summer movie.

IT: When the crooked cop introduced himself as “Forrest J. Ackerman”, I laughed. That was for me.

BT-S: Yeah, and you know, the director [David Koepp] is also a great writer.

IT: Yes, he is.

BT-S: He understood that to really build your hero’s stature, you must have a good villain. Someone who’s interesting to watch, but you feel could be really threatening, not just physically, but in his state of mind. And Michael Shannon’s performance was remarkable. In a fair Academy Awards line-up, I think he should get a Best Supporting Actor nomination for what he contributed to the impact of that film by creating this increasingly demented character. You couldn’t take your eyes off him when he was on the screen.

IT: Fantastic Fest is showing The Man From Hong Kong. Given that it’s always better seeing movies on the big screen as opposed to YouTube, why isn’t it on Netflix and all that?

BT-S: [sighs] Well, there is a DVD that … [sighs] It’s a confused situation in terms of rights. There is a DVD release of the film in Australia, which is the foreign version of the film, released by Madman, and you can buy it on Amazon.

And there has been an Asian release which is available here, a slightly shorter version that’s missing two key scenes, two slightly comedic scenes involving Australians, and therefore, the great fear of American distributors: the Australian accent! They were cut out, the scene where the drug squad cop shows his ID to the cat on the front lawn of the lady he’s going to interview, and their conversation, where she offers him a cigarette: “Would you like a cigarette or do you grow your own?” [laughs]

The gas station scene was also cut. This is where the cops pull up at the pump and one berates Jimmy Wang Yu for his violent methods, stating, " This is Australia, mate, not 55 Days At Peking!" That refers to the titular 1963 epic starring Charlton Heston, in which most Chinese characters where played by white actors in make up.

Such a reference was a tremendous insult to Chinese people, for whom the Boxer rebellion in 1905 was a moment of national pride, an attempt to throw off the yoke of foreign domination. So Jimmy said to me: I have to respond to that with more than the scripted contemptuous shrug. I said go for it. His angry finger pointing "Hey! Don't give me any shit!" was the response he chose. Then I re-shot the cops reaction.

Executives at Fox who cut those scenes lacked good judgment, and never saw the movie's comedy elements, never saw it as anything more than a simple chop sockey programmer for the simple minded.

But that was certainly an example of a director learning to be adaptable, and taking input from an actor who knew his character better than I did. There is a version without those two scenes, which I thought were particularly important, but they just wanted to get on the next fight scene.

If you want to see the best version of the film, get the Madman. The DVD has two special features. One is Kung Fu Killers (1974), which I made for $13,000, and Hospitals Don’t Burn Down (1978), a prize-winning 24-minute short that won Best Short Film at Cork, and won all sorts of industrial safety awards all over the world, and was Australia’s highest-selling industrial film for 25 years, used all over the world.

We staged a fire, cutting a multi-story hospital in half, bursting from the laundry chute out onto one floor. And the film was designed to have a whole series of lessons to be learned in a lecture afterwards.

There were alarming incidents of smoking-related fires in their hospitals. It actually became a fire-safety film worldwide. It’s actually a film I’m proud to have made, and I made it for very little money, but I’m very pleased that I spent the four months that I did making that. I was told that one hospital changed their arrangements after seeing the film, and moved the non-ambulatory patients from the fourth floor to the ground floor, and several months later, the fourth floor caught fire.

Who knows what would have happened if they’d had patients up there that were difficult to move? When you make stories like that, you think, “Well, I’ve made a lot of popcorn, but I’ve actually made something that did some good.” So that was nice.

IT: FF is also screening Stunt Rock, which I have not seen. Tell us everything.

BT-S: You haven’t seen Stunt Rock?

IT: I’m sorry, no.

BT-S: It’s so far one of my more bizarre films, let’s say. It stars Grant Page, and Stunt Rock is a professional love letter to him and all stuntmen since the silent days.

    • Progress at IC?

    • Canadian Troubadour Still Knows the Muse

Upstate NY