The making of When the Wind Blows – Page 7

Ann Goodall, Ron Creese and Ken Friswell. The camera is on a custom built extension arm and head.

When they were deciding on the type of film stock for the production Fuji was on the short list because it is a lot cheaper than Kodak film, but they decided Eastman stock gave a truer reproduction of the cartoon colours. “Fuji gave us a more pastel result. We have nothing against Fugi, the pastel shades are very pleasing to the eye but bearing in mind we were going through a paper print process Eastman turned out to be the right stock,” Turner explains.
While it was essential to have a camera where the steadiness and registration were unquestionable they were also concerned with the accuracy of the film perforations. “Film does not seem as reliable in that respect as it used to be,” according to Friswell. “We always check the film stock if we are going to use any quantity on matte-work or multiple passes. I did some tests for this film and didn’t have that problem. Once we had established the film stock was O.K. we ordered enough of the same batch to see us through the whole production.”

The rig underneath set was used to produce controlled 360 degree turn.

Although the film was shot on Eastman stock it was found 3M paper gave the type of print required. “When we tried Kodak print paper it gave high contrast colours, like a Beano comic,” explains Turner. “I could claim we did lots of tests but we didn’t. We ran out of Kodak paper and the only other sort we had was 3M. I even told Jimmy Murakami we would loose quality with 3M. In actual fact when you print 5247 stock onto 3M paper there is no loss of quality at all. I have re-photographed the prints onto 5247, which the boffins will tell you is the wrong thing to do, and the quality is superb.”

“The lighting requirement was for changeable ambient light to portray the various times of day, an ambient light of sufficient density to ensure we were not getting large shadow areas, because we wanted good detail in the paper prints,” explains Friswell. “We supplemented that with small, 150 watt Dinkies. That was the basic formula adhered to throughout.

“After the bomb had dropped Errol Bryant ‘stressed’ the whole set and gave it a burnt look. The colours were muted and grey with dust. We lowered the ambient light to make the scenes look miserable. It was difficult to decide how low to go because we had to have enough light to produce a good negative. Tests determined the level of key light which gave us the required result.”

There were over five-hundred scenes in When The Wind Blows so continuity was a very important job. The walls of the model house could be removed to provide access for the camera. While a particular wall was down, sequences might be shot for various parts of the film. For example, there could be a sequence from scene three and another from scene twenty. The props would be put in for scene three and then changed to match scene twenty. At least that was the theory, in practice it was very difficult, as Turner recalls:
“The first part of the film, up to the time the bomb exploded, was shot in the most convenient order. Before long we got ourselves in a terrible tangle, with things going missing and things out of place. We learned a lesson from that and when we resumed, after the set had been stressed for bomb damage, we shot in sequence. It was a situation where any continuity person would have had problems. This kind of work is seldom done on such a large scale so there were no experts to consult.

“During the shoot we started at 8.30 in the morning and finished at 6.00 at night. That was eight-and-a-half-hours of intensive concentration from all of us. There were times when four or five of us had a dial each to move for every frame. You can’t afford to make one mistake otherwise the shot is wiped out. Ken and I tried to keep the atmosphere light by gooning around, we are both fans of the Goon Show, because you do need a happy team to keep up this level of work, and everyone worked in a very professional way.”

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