A 16mm Film Crew Prepares… Commentary on the complex process of getting a simple interview

In the absence of an in-role PA, the director adopts another strategy for this simulation. He sits in the place of the interviewee, allowing the lighting of the face to be tested accurately. As he sits there, he picks up on issues that he sees around him and offers jokes or anecdotes which provide a wider context for the actions of the crew and gently pushes the crew’s preparatory work towards completion: asking after 19 minutes whether he should fetch the interviewee. In doing so he is both demonstrating his management of a film crew and playing a conscientious role for the simulation.

After six minutes the activity enters a new phase. The camera is in place and microphone boom has been placed and cable laid back to the Nagra recorder. The electrician begins to place the ‘lamps’ in close consultation with the cameraman. He moves the ‘blonde’, the heaviest light, into position behind the camera in a rather restricted space. There he encounters a lighting stand which he had carried in as he arrived but had placed elsewhere. The cameraman realises that it was he who moved it, and enters into a ritual apology, slapping his hand as might have been done to a naughty boy. The cameraman then sets about refamiliarising himself with some of the equipment, particularly the fluid head on which the camera is mounted.

At this point, the sound recordist who has been trying to hear sound from the microphone through his headphones (which turned out to be defective) decides to assert his role by beginning a formal lecture, seeking permission from the cameraman. Two directors try to make him stop and go back into role: Amanda Murphy, the simulation director, first waves her hands and then intervenes verbally by telling him that he will be interviewed later; Ray Sutcliffe questions him about where the boom microphone will be placed. Eventually, after a little more than a minute, he agrees to revert to role. Meanwhile the electrician has been continuing his work, placing a ‘redhead’ and turning it on. The cameraman asks him for more diffusion of the light, using ‘papers’, and the camera assistant has been changing the tripod, asking for the cameraman’s help at one stage. After the sound recordist has agreed go back into role, the director initiates a conversation about possible damage to the ‘professor’s floor’ leading the camera assistant to offer an anecdote about exploding light bulbs or ‘bubbles’.

Nine minutes have elapsed since the crew entered the room.

The electrician continues to set up the lights and their cables. He finds a problem: the ‘blonde’ has a now outmoded UK 15amp round pin plug on it. It requires a ‘jumper’ to connect it to the 13amp square pin mains. Everyone joins in to solve this problem. The camera assistant asks for the (studio) house electrician. The electrician proposes to change the plug on the lead. The cameraman suggests changing the ‘blonde’ for another ‘redhead’ which they have to hand “or to save time, elbow that blonde and use the final redhead”. As the electrician begins to do this, they begin a ritualistic exchange of male jokes about blondes and redheads. Then a ‘jumper’ is produced by the simulation team and is handed over by Daisy: “Daisy go to the top of the class” remarks a relieved electrician. The whole incident takes just one minute to raise and resolve.