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  • Writer's pictureGerry

Lean on me ...


Terry writes ...

I was browsing through one of the two biographies that I have of the great film director, David Lean, (1908-1999). The one that I was looking at was 'David Lean’ by Stephen Silverman, published in 1989, and on page 58 was a studio photograph which I found very interesting. It was taken during the filming of David Lean's classic love story, 'Brief Encounter', starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard.


The story, (by Noel Coward), tells of a middle-class, highly respectable woman, who, by a chance meeting on a railway station platform, falls in love with a doctor. Their love story, although never consummated, arrives at a point where the doctor borrows a flat from a friend of his, and asks Laura (Johnson) to meet him there. Full of guilt, she goes to the flat. The photograph shows how they filmed the scene. A lift shaft has been built in the studio. In the lower part of the picture can be seen the doorway to the block of flats which Laura has come through....she enters the lift and the camera cranes up with her to the landing on the next floor, and we see her hesitating before going to the flat. The camera has filmed all of this through the cage of the lift. Both floors have been built against the studio wall. Apart from the lift, it is all wood and hardboard. Why do I find this photograph so interesting?


Well, I am always looking to see how professionals do those things that we always take for granted when we see them on the big screen. And, I ask myself the question "If I had such a scene in one of my scripts, how would I go on about filming it? First of all, I do not have the budget, or facilities of a studio...so, I would have to find a simpler way of doing it, almost certainly by finding a ready-made location, and working out the camera angles and movements accordingly. But?? Looking at this photograph, at least tells me that I could not do it as David Lean did. Of course!


As we all know, some amateur movie-making clubs would use THREE cameras, five directors, thirty-seven computers, and enough lights to illuminate Tower Bridge, together with a generous helping of CGI, - which the IAC judges would give you a bunch of medals for! But, I'm just an old-fashioned movie-maker and would have to find the easy way. Looking at this photograph certainly gives us food for thought. Best wishes for 2022, and I look forward to seeing you all soon

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