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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. I shot this with for BBC Nationwide in the mid 1970s with a Audio radiomic.
  2. It is with great sadness that I report the passing away of Rene Borisewitz last week. Rene was Simon Kaye's maintenance engineer for many feature films until he became a successful sound mixer in his own right. He gave me a place on my first feature film. He is survived by his wife Ulla. His cremation service is on Saturday 5th October 2019 at 10.45 at the Golders Green Crematorium (West Chapel) [Hoop Lane, Golders Green, NW11 7NL] and there will be be a celebration of Rene's life afterwards at The Old Bull & Bush, North End Road NW3 7HE from 12:15.
  3. Many years ago I worked with a mixer who was of an experimental frame of mind. Somewhere he got a plastic parabolic reflector, about eight inches in diameter, pushed a 416 through the hole in the centre and focused it by eye to a point behind the slots to see what would happen, the theory being that it would reflect the sound waves back into the slot in front of the capsule. Well, THAT didn't work!
  4. I have just finished watching the film Joseph Andrews on YouTube. It was shot in Southern Britain during a very long, hot summer of 1976 and I was 3rd Man on the sound crew. Lady Booby (Anne-Margaret)'s final line was a reversion to her character's low origins (for the rest of the film she spoke in a curious mixture of bad posh English and faux-French) and for accuracy the director (Tony Richardson) insisted that this line be very authentic. The line was "What f***king next?" and who better to advise on the correct, Cockney way of pronouncing this than the electricians? For about half an hour the sparks clustered around Anne-Margaret coaching her on the correct rhythm, slurring and intonation so that she would pass unremarked in Bethnal Green. I remain unconvinced.
  5. For what it is worth, probably 0, this is the way I went. First step was to answer an advertisement, for a tea boy in a little film production company, in the Evening Standard, one of the evening papers produced in London. Got the job making tea, sitting in for the switch board operator at lunchtime, running errands and any odd jobs. Any spare time I spent looking over the shoulders of the editors and the sound mixer. The camera boys were usually out on location, so at that point I couldn't see that side of it. After a couple of years of making tea (and coffee; there was no end to my skill) I was allowed out on location to see what was going on there. By this point I had decided that sound was to be the path I followed and so I had my eye open for opportunities elsewhere, as there would be no vacancies in-house where I was for the foreseeable future. I became aware of holiday relief work at the BBC, where in theory you stood in for someone on leave. I attended an interview at Ealing, where the BBC Film Department had its HQ and was successful in getting the job. I was NOT part of BBC staff. To be so was an exalted position and the technical grades went on a long course at Evesham to be made au fait with the highest standards. I was a filler-in of vacancies who could be got rid of very quickly. After a week operating machines at Ealing my place of work was changed to Alexandra Palace, in North East London, where BBC News had its base. I spent about two years there and I have to say that it was the happiest time of my life, making state of the art 1930s machinery work in the transfer suite and the dubbing theatre. But I became greedy, and I thought that after this time I ought to be considered for being made a staff member, not just a holiday relief technician. This was a step too far, I was told; and so I resigned in a fit of petulance. This forced me to seek free-lance work and I was successful in doing so, working for BBC and ITV as well as on documentaries and feature films. The more I worked the more contacts I made so things slowly got better and better. Just a footnote added later. I found cold calling to be unspeakably difficult - but it was and is an essential part of finding work before you have established yourself. Striking the right balance between being useful and pushy is essential too - try if you can to imagine what sort of assistant YOU would like to have. Cold calling I think was the most difficult part of finding work, but the amount of horror you experience in doing it will vary according to your personality. It has to be done, worse luck.
  6. I recorded the sound on this. BBC dubbing put the cat squalling at the end, I don't think it improves things.
  7. I see that a lot of current mixers have bar graph meters and I'm wondering how the readings are weighted. My favorite mixer was a Filmtech which had BBC type PPM meters, quite large so you could read them with ease while glancing down. Are the up to date meters programmable or are you stuck with what you have bought?
  8. At the time it seemed not to be too much trouble. On location you could power 4 Brutes off a 1000 Amp mobile generator - so that accounts for 5 sparks; one to each lamp and one to the genny. Plus of course all the other sparks you needed for the other requirements. There was the delightfully titled 'Practical Sparks', who would be in charge of all the domestic lamps in shot - to me it implied that all the other sparks were IMpractical; hopeless dreamers probably walking aimlessly around in circles spouting Keats and Shelley - rather far from actuality! * But this was in the days of four man sound crews and strong unions - overmanning was an indelicate subject to raise. *To quote Stephen Potter: "Petrification of the implied opposite."^# ^ An example of "L'esprit de l'escalier"# # Two examples of showing off. Why do I do it?
  9. One little bit left over from the days of recording on film rather than on tape. When I was starting out I was rather puzzled by older, grizzled members of the sound crew referring to the PEC Switch on a Nagra. Pretty quickly I saw that they meant the Tape/Direct switch but I couldn't for the life of me figure out why they were calling it the PEC switch. Eventually I asked and the answer was that PEC stands for Photo Electric Cell. On a optical recorder this was placed near the light valve and responded to the amount of light falling on the film. So you could listen to that and be confident that at least everything was working that far. Of course with magnetic recording light valves and photo electric cells were redundant, but still among the older soundies that name kept on being used.
  10. 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.
  11. AKG D25 windgag, Beyer DT48 headphones, Raindirk Mixer, Sennheiser MKH 805 windgag + Napoleon's hat.
  12. Brilliant! Thank you Stacysound for posting it. I particularly like the popcorn gag!
  13. 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?
  14. 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.
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