Field Notes from the Filming Front

By Mayer, Tony | American Cinematographer, June 1977 | Go to article overview

Field Notes from the Filming Front


Mayer, Tony, American Cinematographer


An overview of the logistical, physical and emotional challenges of fielding four full-scale filming units in widely scattered locales

ISFAHAN, Iran

The moment when you are in the midst of a complex film production is the least favorable time to try to analyse it, or even to attempt to record the facts about it. Actually, although we are well over halfway through filming at this writing, it is still a less than ideal time for an overview. However, since American Cinematographer is locked into its press date, and I have a break day before shooting in the bazaar tomorrow, I shall attempt to report what has happened thus far.

The production of "CROSSROADS OF CIVILISATION" began in January, 1976. Of course, David Frost and I and our Iranian collaborators - led by Dr. Mehrdad Azarmi of the Ministry of Culture and Arts - had been discussing and preparing the operation for some time before that, but we began serious preparation in January.

I was fortunate in having in my wife, Sarah Hobson, something of an expert on Iran and the history of that part of the world. With her help, as head of our research operation, we located the finest experts on each of the eight onehour films we had planned, wherever they might be. We commissioned fortythousand-word essays from, among others, Professor Richard Frye of Harvard, Dr. David Stronach of the British Institute of Persian Studies, Professor Peter Brown of London University, Dr. Robert Hillenbrand of Edinburgh University, Dr. John Gurney and Robin Lane-Fox of Oxford. We enlisted detailed help from Dr. Shapur Shahbazi, the Director of Persepolis, from Professor Seyyed Hussein Nasr, the Iranian authority on Islam, Professor Dr. Walter Hinz of Gottingen, Professor Jerry Clinton of Princeton, and Professor Oleg Grabar. In due time we turned over these essays, each with a mass of background data and a specialised researcher, to a team of writers of apt academic qualification. With Martin Hall as the script coordinator, Simon Raven, Colin Morris, Robert Wales, Michael Hastings, John Prebble, Don Shaw and Margaret Laing produced scripts of the highest calibre.

To develop the scripts from this stage with the help of historians, a team consisting of Martin Hall, Sarah Hobson and Rob Carter (who was now signed up as Supervising Editor), supported by Clive Irving (our Chief Writer, who had originally prepared the series outline), David Frost and myself, now produced six more drafts leading up to the shooting scripts.

The stories that finally emerged, combined entertainment and honest, probing history. Basically the stories covered first, the Medes and the Persians - and how Cyrus the Great moulded them into one of the first world empires. second, the story of Alexander the Great, and the Parthians who followed him onto the Iranian plateau. Third the Sassanians - a remarkable Iranian dynasty who developed a style in kingship and rule that much influenced later European patterns. The fourth programme covered Islam and the coming of the Arabs; the fifth, the Mongols Genghis Kahn and Tamerlane; the sixth, Shah Abbas who built this city called Isfahan and made it "half the world." The seventh covered the story of constitutionalism, of the confrontation between the people and their rulers. It is also the story of the discovery of oil, of its development and exploitation by the colonial powers.

The eighth and last programme is to be an extended interview with his Imperial Majesty, the Shah of Iran. It is rare that such a Head of State increasingly influencing world affairs can be viewed within the framework of his national history. To date, His Majesty has responded most frankly to Frost's diligent questions, and with an intriguing honesty. By seeing him in the context of this long history we think the last programme will have unusual depth, and will give some unique perceptions to a western audience.

Kevan Barker, the Production Supervisor, assisted by Roger Connally, prepared schedules and budgets and by June the first crew was ready to start filming David Frost's material and his interviews with our experts throughout the major locations. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Field Notes from the Filming Front
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.