Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Italian crew of BARABBAS.

by Richard Fleischer

Working with Italian crews has a certain charm. There's a preference for improvisation rather than complete preparedness that adds a quality of commedia dell'arte. And then there's temperament. Almost every crew member, sometime during production, will have his operatic "moment". A few come to mind: the production designer breaking down and bursting into tears when construction wasn't going as he wanted; my first assistant director chasing the head carpenter all over the stage with a hammer; the soundman asking the cameraman if he would adjust a light so the microphone wouldn't cast a shadow on the set, and the cameraman leaping at him in a blind fury, trying to strangle him; things like that.
And then there's a relaxed attitude that can be beguiling. The head of the crew came to me one day, looking very embarrassed. "Signor Fleischer," he said, "I'm terribly sorry but our union says that tomorrow we must go on strike for one hour."
"What hour will it be?"
"Whatever hour you choose, signor. Whenever it will be convenient for you."
"Really? Any hour I chose? How about lunchtime?"
"That will be fine. Tomorrow we strike for one hour during lunch."

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