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Nick Flowers

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About Nick Flowers

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    West Sussex, UK.
  • About
    A varied career! Started off at BBC News at Alexandra Palace, then freelance working on BBC Nationwide, then features working with Peter Handford, then staff recordist for Southern Television and TVS, then freelance again. Now clapped out and otiose.
  • Interested in Sound for Picture

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  1. A story now that does not reflect well on me, but it also shows the unintended consequences of a moment's inattention. The film was Absolution, and starred Richard Burton. The director (Anthony Page) wanted to hear the last take back and Richard Burton had retired to his caravan. I thought I was playing back the last take on the Nagra to a pair of heaphones that the director was wearing, but due to a moment's lapse I had not put the Tape/Direct switch in the correct position and what in fact the director was listening to was a live feed from R. Burton's still connected radiomic. It is unfortunate that at that moment Richard Burton was slagging off the director in no uncertain terms, but not a flicker of expression passed over the the director's face and he took the headphones off, thanked me, and walked off. Only later did I hear what had happened as a result. Page, the director, had confronted Burton with what he had said, and there was a minor row. Burton was of course incandescent with wrath that what he had thought was a private conversation inside his caravan had been overheard and he complained to my boss, Peter Handford. Peter stood up for me and said that an actor as experienced as Burton should disconnect his radiomic or ask for it to be disconnected when he went off set. My dismissal from the crew was suggested but Peter said that if I went, the whole sound crew would go. It all calmed down but it was a nasty shock for me, and you can be sure that I checked the Tape/Direct toggle switch after that! Another illustration, if it were necessary, of what a first class boss Peter was.
  2. AKG D25 windgag, Beyer DT48 headphones, Raindirk Mixer, Sennheiser MKH 805 windgag + Napoleon's hat.
  3. Brilliant! Thank you Stacysound for posting it. I particularly like the popcorn gag!
  4. Here is a picture of a Brute, a carbon arc lamp and its associated resistor. They were common enough on all the films I worked on, but recent reading on the web suggests they they are no longer used. Is that right?
  5. On the re-make of The Corn Is Green (K. Hepburn) the director, George Cukor, was of advanced age, and while he was OK to walk on firm, level ground, he was a little unsteady on his pins through the orchard in which we were shooting. So he had a couple of minders, one at each shoulder, to support him as he walked through the rather low apple trees. Their attention was fixed on his feet and they did not notice that a low branch had somehow inserted itself into his mouth, and as they coaxed him forward, so the branch was twisting his head back. His diction was somewhat impaired by all this and his cries of outrage went unheeded by his helpers, who pressed forward. I was very amused to witness all this, but all good things come to an end and eventually his supporters became aware of the situation and removed the offending branch, to be rewarded with a stream of invective.
  6. On the re-make of The Lady Vanishes we were on location in Austria. One evening the whole crew was dining in the hotel when a waiter appeared and called out, in heavily accented Austrian English, the best approximation of an English name that must have been spelled out for him: "Phone call for Mr. Slow C**t." Dougie Slocombe was indeed not the fastest cameraman, and equally it was not unknown for him to be referred to in such terms. But to hear it shouted out like that ensured that much childish giggling erupted in the Sound crew and it has to be said the camera crew as well.
  7. It must be a bleedin' great camera that lot is running! Probably 3 strip Cinerama!
  8. I was thinking that as the years roll on, those of us who used rotary converters to power the camera will be growing fewer and fewer, so perhaps it might not go amiss to set down what our jobs entailed. My first feature film was called 'Made', and we had a four man sound crew, of which I was the fourth man and pretty green too. My prime job was to set up and connect the camera (a Mitchell BNC) to a three phase power supply. If there wasn't a handy supply from the mains - in which case I would connect the camera via a transformer and a start box so the camera boys could turn over themselves - it would be my responsibility to connect the rotary. This derived its power from two twelve volt lorry batteries, which powered a 24 volt motor, which in turn rotated a three phase alternator. My memory fails me as what the voltage was between phases, but it was connected to the camera via four pin EP Canon plugs. The controls on the rotary converter were an on/off switch, a battery voltage meter, a meter for each output phase and a FRAM frequency meter, which consisted of about ten reeds, each cut to a critical length so that when vibrated by the common source the one which was vibrating the most would indicate the frequency of the supply reaching the camera - in Europe 50 Hz. On cold days it could take quite a few seconds for the rotary to get the camera up to speed and the clapper/loader could not put the board on until I shouted out "Speed", when the meter settled down at 50 Hz. There was another output from the rotary to allow a reference pulse from an ATN to feed into the Nagra. Rotaries and their batteries were not light weights and sometimes getting them in place involved a degree of physical exertion which I doubt I could summon today. We were much to be pitied. I expect I have forgotten quite a lot, and I used a rotary only on one film as Panavision cameras came into general use soon afterwards.
  9. Shooting in Sweden, and the crew is up in the battlements of the Royal residence to do a lovely shot of the King of Sweden drive into the courtyard and walk into the front door. Just one chance to get the shot, as there is beautiful unmarked snow lying on the ground and the director wants to have the Range Rover carrying the king to be making the only tyre marks. And His Majesty won't do second takes. The car rolls into the courtyard, the King gets out but slips and falls a*** over t**. Undisguised amusement from the crew, one of whom mutters something about the king being a c***. A royal flunky minding the crew says, in outrage:"Who called the King a c***?" to which the instant response was: "Who called the c*** a king?"
  10. I remembered just now an occasion when we were shooting a news story on a council estate in Brighton. It was quite frosty outside and we were glad to enter the house, which was quite warm. In the living room we saw the reason why: a railway sleeper (I think that they are called ties in the USA) was poking out of the fireplace and into the room. The end in the grate was blazing merrily away, and as it was consumed the sleeper was shoved in further. We averted our gaze and went about our business of shooting the interview.
  11. No, not as exalted as that - there are probably many Princes of Darkness out there. Alas, I can't remember this particular one's name, but I'm sure that it is not Gordon Willis. While I'm here another recollection has just come to me. During a very long, slow panning shot the boom operator came into view from the right and exited frame to the left. He was admiring the view and was unaware that the camera was running. The cameraman's voice can be heard saying: "Hello David" as he passed through shot; which suggests that the recordist knew what was going on but couldn't be bothered to alert his assistant. A spark based at Maidstone was called 5 Watt, because he was not very bright.
  12. There was also a cameraman whose penchant for lighting every scene very gloomily got him the nick-name The Prince of Darkness. Gladys, the sound recordist who I mentioned up-thread, had the entirely understandable habit of bring a screaming cushion along. When the cameraman or director proved to be more bloody frustrating to the sound department than usual, Gladys would retreat to the unit vehicle, a six seater Ford Transit in those days, cover his face with the cushion and scream his impotent rage away. He would return refreshed and able to do his duty.
  13. There was a reporter at TVS by name of Mike Rowbottom. This soon was changed to Micro Bottom (laughable in itself, as the gentleman had a fat arse), and then to the symbol μ.
  14. Just found this item on YouTube, which might be of interest.
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