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Nick Flowers

Unintended Consequences

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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.

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Yes.  We have all had those moments.

 

Mine more frequently (and frequently enough that I should have known better) were some out-of-school talk that might have been overheard.  The moral is, never talk s**t about anyone, ever.  It will serve all in good stead.

 

D.

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Yes we often tread a fine line especially when an actor/actress disapears off set without notice.

I have on only a few occasions when checking radios hear a tinkling in the toilet and I make a

point now of advising those with radios on that I will remove them if needed for their privacy

and the safety of the equipment.

 

mike

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Sometime though, it can work to your advantage: I was working on a charity gig and the compere, a brilliant U.K comedian and writer by the name of Barry Cryer, left the theatre at the end of the show still wearing his transmitter. As soon as I realised he'd gone, I monitored his mic channel and was relieved to find that he was in the pub next door, ordering a pint of liquid refreshment. Actually, with his well-known reputation for liking a drink, I could probably have gone there directly, without checking his mic.

 

John

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I have a similar story just the opposite thing happened.. When I had just started out, I did a commercial where the clients, I think a yoghurt company, were kinda douchey. And at the time I didn’t have much experience with anything, but I did what my producer wanted and rented a lot of IFBs and every actor wore lavs. One little thing I had overlooked was battery life. At the time, I had a 302 with a zoom h4n as my recorder. Between setups, I turned everything off to preserve precious battery life, and it sort of looked bad on me, since the IFB constantly went silent, and it kinda bothered everyone in the video village... anyway, the main actor and the 1st AD were really fed up with the douches, and they talked openly on set (the douches were far away though) about just how douchey they were with their yoghurt.. It then dawned on the actor that she was wired and that the clients, producers and directors were probably listening. Her whole face and stance just fell. She saw her career just fly away. And at that moment I happened to stand right next to them, and I quickly just blurted out “oh no everything is turned off, they can’t hear anything”. And I said it mainly because i was stressed, it wasn’t planned, I was being cheap! But it saved the whole shoot I imagine. They weren’t nice on the douches...

 

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