Category Archives: TEP USA

Posts about our film interviews in California, December 2013.

The Elstree Project to present their work to the BECTU History Project

Tomorrow morning Bob Redman, Howard Berry and University of Hertfordshire student George Nicholls are attending a meeting of the BECTU History Project.  BECTU (the Broadcasting, Entertainment, Cinematograph and Theatre Union) runs the largest oral history project in the world related to film and television production and post-production, with over 650 interviews recorded since the History Project began. The trio will be talking about the recent interview recordings conducted by The Elstree Project, including our trip to California in December last year, the ongoing centenary celebrations, and the forthcoming documentary.  They also hope to share information about the way in which the interviews are conducted and the recent collaboration with the Google Cultural Institute. After the meeting, Howard and George are to visit the BFI to meet and film an interview with Senior Curator of Silent Film, Bryony Dixon.  Bryony has researched the Neptune Film company, which opened the first studio in Borehamwood in 1914....
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Interview excerpt: Walter Murch recalls Michael Sundin’s Performance as Tik-Tok

Here's a nice mid-week treat for you all - a five minute excerpt from our interview with Walter Murch. Walter directed Return to Oz for Disney at Elstree Studios in the early 1980s.  Michael Sundin, who was the World Trampolining Champion at the time, was cast to perform as Tik-Tok - actually physically operating the robot character from inside.  In this clip, Walter recalls quite what Michael had to go through in order to be able to perform as Tik-Tok, including standing with his head pointing between his legs, his arms back to front and walking while watching himself on a TV monitor! During the filming, the BBC's flagship children's show Blue Peter visited the set and filmed a profile about Michael.  This subsequently led to him becoming the 14th Blue Peter presenter.  Michael sadly died in 1989. ...
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Walter Murch and our Return to London

It's 15:30 at San Francisco airport and we are just having a last team meal before our flight. This morning, we had the honour of being guests in the home of Walter Murch - the Oscar winning editor of Apocalypse Now, The Godfather Trilogy and The English Patient. Walter spoke to us for over an hour about his time directing Return to Oz at Elstree Studios and we had a wonderful time. Afterwards Walter and his lovely wife showed us a short film of the "Droid Olympics" featuring a young George Lucas and a young Brad Bird! 20131222-153559.jpg 20131222-153746.jpg So we leave California with a lot of happy memories and a lot of success. To have recorded interviews with Steven Spielberg, Joe Turkel and Walter Murch in one trip has been such a privilege and an honour and we owe so many people a lot of thanks: Firstly, we clearly owe each...
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San Francisco

We are now towards the end of our California trip; the last part of which has been spent in San Francisco. The City is beautiful and we are in the heart of town in Union Square. It feels very Christmassy too - a giant Macy's Christmas tree overlooks an outdoor ice skating rink and there are beautiful lights everywhere. Tomorrow, just before we fly home, we have the extreme honour of visiting Walter Murch at his home. He has generously offered to spend the first morning of his Christmas holiday with us, so that we can interview him about the time he directed Return to Oz for Disney at Elstree Studios. I love the film and feel Walter should have been given a chance to do a director's commentary on the DVD release, so I hope our interview answers some questions about the making of the film. 20131221-185722.jpg 20131221-185733.jpg...
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Joe Turkel and the Griffith Observatory

This morning we all traveled to Santa Monica to the restaurant Jack's on Montana. They were the very generous hosts of our next interview - actor Joe Turkel.

Joe played Lloyd the barman in The Shining, and has the honour of being only one of two people to have appeared in three films directed by Stanley Kubrick. Joe was wonderful - full of wit, good humour and wonderful and interesting stories about working with Stanley, Jack Nicholson and the British crews at Elstree. He clearly continues to think of Stanley fondly and we all felt so sad when he told us that he never saw him again after the end of the film.

Joe was very generous with his time and so enthusiastic, and it really rubbed off on all the team. We all felt as if we had been a part of something special and unique this morning.

We really wanted to make the most of our last day in...

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We met Spielberg?!

Well... that was absolutely nuts. Now I've had time to recover and look back on yesterdays interview I thought it's best to write a quick blog post!

The day started off nice and early. I was still questioning whether not I was asleep, waking up to clear skies and warm sunshine in December was rather dreamy. Around 08:30 we headed off towards Universal Studios, where we would be greeted by scenes of the everyday busy Film and TV industry. As we drove in, I was blown away by the scale of the studios and the general operations going on around me. Not only that, I was thinking to myself why would Spielberg choose Elstree over this when you had it on your back door. Couldn't wait to find out all the answers.   universal studios   We eventually made it into Amblin Entertainment and got shown through to a private screening room....
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Today we have a free day so we're off sightseeing around Hollywood! We've decided to be typical tourists and go and see the Hollywood sign and the walk of fame etc. So expect lots of pictures later! Still can't believe yesterday actually happened, just driving through universal studios and up to Amblin Entertainment you could feel something special about the place! And we still have 2 more interviews to do while we're out here, one with Joe Turkel tomorrow and the other with Walter Murch when we go to San Francisco....
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What a day..

Today we woke up very early to get to our first interview.. with Steven Spielberg! I don't think any of us can explain the excitement/nerves we felt when driving up to the gates of Universal Studios! After receiving our passes, we travelled through to the wonderful Amblin Entertainment where we were guided through to the magnificent screening room to set up. After about 40mins of setting up & testing things were working, the lovely Mary (one of Mr Spielberg's assistants) brought him through. To say we were awestruck is a massive understatement! He came & shook all our hands, asked our names & talked to us about being film students. We were told that we would only have 30mins with him.. but he clearly enjoyed reminiscing about Elstree Studios & pushed things as far as he could before another assistant needed to take him away to his next meeting! He gave such detailed & passionate answers.. we all just ended...
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Here's a quick photo of the team in the screening room at Amblin Entertainment, where we filmed our interview this morning! Everyone was lovely and they were so kind and generous.

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Our first day in LA.

Our first day in LA got off to a good start! We were all up super early (as I think we were still slightly on UK time) & had a lovely breakfast provided by the hotel to get us ready for planning, prepping & practising with the equipment. The group all worked together to set up & check the filming equipment. After a few hiccups were sorted (including the mini crisis of having no batteries for the sound recorder.. eek!), we started to feel ready for our big & super important first interview tomorrow! All our job roles are set & we brainstormed on ideas for the interview questions. Now we just have to get there, not be late & most importantly - have fun & make the most of what is an utterly fantastic opportunity for The Elstree Project! We then decided to go for a stroll through Burbank & came across an awesome sweet shop with a plethora...
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