Was this for radio/print/tv Paul ?
had a lovely day at brian clemen's house yesterday recalling all the tv series he worked on at the various studios of elstree - dial 999, the invisible man, mark saber, danger man, thriller etc and of course the avengers. a lovely man with so many memories of danzigers, elstree, atv, mgm
Was this for radio/print/tv Paul ?
I loved his tale of Ralph Smart and John Schlesinger...
my big break came I think when I wrote the pilot for the series Ralph Smart created, Danger Man, known in the U.S. as Secret Agent, with Patrick McGoohan. I got involved because by that time I'd gotten an agent, and he was looking around for work for me, and he knew they needed some help. They were shot in black and white, half-hour long shows, and they were shot in about 5 to 8 days. That was one of the first series to crack the U.S. network market, on CBS. The pilot I wrote was called "View from the Villa," and it was set in Italy, but the production manager set the shoot on location in Portmeirion, which looked like Italy, but which was much closer. And obviously the location stuck in Patrick McGoohan's mind, because that's where he shot his television series The Prisoner much later. There's one further amazing story connected with this first episode of Danger Man; the second unit director on the show shot some location and background stuff and sent the dailies back to the editing room at Elstree. Ralph Smart looked at them, hated them, and called up the second unit director and said 'Look, these are terrible, you'll never be a film director' and then he fired him. The name of the second unit director? John Schlesinger
Well he could certainly churn out quantity and is adept at self promotion with a teflon coating
= successful TV career.
Last edited by Arfur Teacake; 21-04-12 at 01:05 PM.
That's a bit rough, Arfur. The quality of his work is really pretty high. I was lucky enough to meet him last year and although he was not feeling particularly well, he was totally charming.
Brian's interview is part of this ongoing video and oral history of the craftspeople who have worked so hard behind the scenes at Elstree over the years. A fascinating project it is too.
as smudge says it is recorded for the elstree project, the ultimate aim is to make all the material accessible to the public. i think the comment about brian being a 'self promoter' is a bit unfair. he works in an industry which by it's nature is all about 'self promoting' and frankly if i had survived nearly 60 years in such a cut throat biz, i would enjoy people celebrating/taking an interest in my work... surely that is human nature?
Script-writers do seem to tend to want to have their cake and eat it I find (not knowing any - only reading about them). They claim kudos for being the only creatives who have to start with a blank piece of paper (or a blank screen) and make a world from nothing. However, when their creation turns into something not so very good or popular, that then becomes the fault of the director or producer or actor.... everyone but the script-writer in fact. They will often say that their script was changed after they submitted it, unless the show proves to be very successful, in which case they will say the script was exactly the way they wrote it.
This is all generalisation of course, like the best forum writing...
as you say a bit of a generalisation in best forum writing tradition :) i reckon every star i have met and that's quite a few tend to say 'you can make a lousy film out of a good script but not a good film out of a lousy script. in other words generally a film relies heavily on the quality of the script and the writer must be credited for that. of course during production a star or director might 'fine tune' certain scenes or sentences as the need arises.
unless they are adapting a book or play, which is a skill in itself, the scriptwriter is inventing the characters and plot and therefore is the principle player in the game. the director needs to turn that into a visual realisation and the actors have to give life to the characters so it is a collab effort.
i have been writing for magazines and papers for 40 years and done a couple of books but i could never write a script. mind you if somebody offered me a few or lots of bobs and unlimited red wine i would have a go :)
Elmore wrote the screenplay for The Moonshine War from his novel. On the set, Patrick McGoohan came up to him and said “What’s it like standing there hearing your words all fucked up.”
Elmore Leonard’s script contains some intriguingly lurid touches and some unusual, multifaceted characters. In more competent hands, The Moonshine War could have been a bizarre little psychodrama, dripping with filth, alcohol, and dark comedy. Unfortunately, Richard Quine’s direction is casual to the point of being drowsy. He showed more visual flair in the Columbo episodes that he produced around the same time.
and the reason I said it was (I am as guilty as the next person) that its all too easy to get gushing and entranced by whatever is being said by 'hero' in front of you.
I have read a great deal about Mr Clemens but cannot recall a single time where it has deviated from where all the wonderful things are attributed to him and the bad to someone else.
A typical line of his comes from when he was fired from the Avengers (never quite explained why) and was then reinstated, something like.. " i got a call on holiday, they ask me to come back, the didn't want Albert (Albert Fennell) but I begged them to take him back"
The Thriller series could have been first class (he blamed the Americans for that) if he had allowed other scriptwriters a go, and frankly 'The New Avengers' his scripts were an insult to the intelligence (he blamed the French for that) and then there was the idiotic 'Bugs' (he blamed the BBC for that) which also had potential.
alas after 50 years of meeting film stars, character actors, producers, scriptwriters, directors, etc i have no heroes and never get entranced , i just see fellow human beings. in the interview i seem to recall he took responsibility for failures as well as successes but i guess we must agree to disagree re brian's career. however, as a person i can only say he is a nice guy and if that does not come across in printed articles and interviews about him, that's a shame. i was not there so i can't verify whether the yanks, frenchies or the bbc were responsible for any meddling with scripts or whether brian is shifting blame onto others. the great thing is we all have different views and that is good. i must admit i never bothered to watch either the new avengers or bugs so can't comment on their quality... were they as bad as julian's titanic series for itv recently :) is the thriller series available on dvd ? i remember visiting the set of one episode but can't remember much about the series.
Clemens told of the fun of writing, of becoming so fired up by an idea that his two fingers could barely keep up with his brain, such as the brilliant, 1970 thriller And Soon The Darkness (currently being remade), which he hammered out over two days and was filmed without a word changed.
He dispelled many myths. He wouldn't hear of the writer, director or cast being the star – "I can't stand the 'a film by' credit, films are made by Kodak"; it's a collaborative artform. Writer's block has never troubled him. He had simple tips and advice, such as making sure the editor cuts the opening and ending first – uneveness is more forgivable in the middle of a story if it comes in and goes out with a bang. Or the most fundamental secret of writing: "There's no mystery: arse to chair, pen to paper."