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A Taste Of Honey dop Walter Lassally


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#1 Michael Waite

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Posted 28 January 2008 - 02:40 PM

Last night I went to the ASC screening of this 1961 British film at the Billy Wilder cinema in Westwood. Excellent film shot on location in Manchester, directed by Tony Richardson. Cinematographer Walter Lassally was in attendance & gave a brief introduction and then stayed at the end for a Q&A. It was a very good film, excellent script & performances. It was shot B&W using 3 Ilford stocks including the then relatively new 400 ASA stock. It was all shot on location, no studio work at all. Mostly with natural & reflected light.

Walter Lassally was a good speaker & had some interesting things to say about cinematography. He was not happy with the move to shooting all films in colour from the mid 60s as he found it easier to change the mood of a film in B&W. He said this change was due to USA TV stations refusing to buy or co-finance any new films unless they were shot in colour. He has an idea for a student film competition where the films will be 10 minutes, silent and B&W as a way to emphasize the visual qualities over sound.

In the same era he also shot Loneliness of the Long Distance Runner & Tom Jones.
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#2 Pedro Millan

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Posted 30 January 2008 - 11:56 PM

Hey,

I went to that same screening and found the movie very touching and beautiful. Unfortunately couldn't stayed until the end of the Q&A.
I admire the fact that the entire movie was shot on location with natural and bounce light.
I loved the way they moved the camera on the very first sequence, where the girls are playing with the ball.

Do you know if he talked about the lenses he used?
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#3 Michael Waite

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Posted 31 January 2008 - 10:40 PM

Hi Pedro, no there wasn't any discussion about lenses or cameras. He did talk a bit about diffusion in quite an amusing way, saying how lens makers & film manufacturers are always working to increase the sharpness & resolution of their products, while cinematographers are working to mask the fine detail. His point being that such high resolution is not how we see the world with our eyes. Specifically referring to close ups of faces of course. When you look at someone's face up close most likely you don't see every pore, wrinkle & hair, unless you are wearing powerful glasses. And seeing all this detail enlarged on the cinema screen would be quite disturbing.

He told a story about the diffusion net he used on Tom Jones that he had received from an older French cinematographer (he mentioned the name but I didn't get it). This was made from a net that came with a womans hat from the 1920s & there were only 2 small pieces. They tested various other types of similar net to try & achieve the same look but nothing matched so they had to carefully nurse the 2 pieces as they were fundamental to the look of the film.

Someone asked him if he had seen Juno as it has a similar theme to Taste of Honey (teenage pregnancy) but he said that he hadn't had a chance to watch Juno yet. He did say that Taste of Honey had a good reception on release, both critically & at the box office.

I wish I had asked him about working with Lindsay Anderson as he shot a documentary for him in the mid 50s & was involved in the free cinema movement, but I didn't think to at the time.
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