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Thread: Ryan's Daughter

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    Acouple of days ago I responded to a thread on the Film Score Monthly message board with regard to "Ryan's Daughter". I thought it would be fitting to reproduce my response on this board for the benefit of those that might be interested. Please excuse the odd mistakes..............



    "Ryan's Daughter" played a big part in my life. By 1969 I was big Lean fan. I had seen "Lawrence of Arabia" in 70mm many times at the Metropole, Victoria in London and "Doctor Zhivago" at least twice in 70mm at the Empire, Leicester Square. I was 21 and working in the British Film Industry. I was working in the Sound Department at Pinewood Studios when the next Lean film was announced and was to be shot in Ireland. Months and weeks went by and "Michael's Day", as it was known then, was coming to the end of it's shooting schedule. There was no thought in my mind that the film would come to Pinewood for Post Production, I thought Shepperton would get the job as his last British based production was done there ("Lawrence").

    It was early mid 1970 and I was now working in Theatre 5 which dealt with the recording of dialog and sound effects. (I started as a Boom Assistant on the shooting stages and in late '69 moved into Theatre 5). One day, quite out of the blue it was announced that Pinewood would be handling all the Post Production chores. This meant that the editing crew would move into the studios' cutting rooms. David Lean and his editor Norman Savage had one room and the first and second assistants (Tony was the name of one of them)had the other. There were several sound editors headed by the legendary Winston Ryder. He and Lean go back many years together.

    In a matter of days appointments were made for the recording of the sound effects and post dialog or ADR. We called it the virgin loop system, 'looping'. This consisted of a small amount of the picture cut into a loop. The corresponding production soundtrack was cut to match match. A piece of 35mm unrecorded magnetic film was also cut into a loop and the three pieces of film ran syncronised or interlocked together. The actor would look at the picture loop projected up on the screen while listening to the 'guide track' on a headphone. He will then record his voice onto the magnetic film and try to match it to his lips on the screen. The sound editor, who is supervising the session will tell the actor when he has succeeded in getting the 'sync' and the performance right. The sound editor will then take the newly recorded sound back to the cutting room and refine the sync further with the picture.

    The music, it was decided, would be recorded at Denham Studios. There were no music recording facilities at Pinewood. Cyril Crowhurst, who was Pinewood's Sound Department superviser oversaw the installation of a proper scoring stage at Denham in 1946. Denham and Pinewood were two massive studios built in the mid thirties and during the second world war Denham continued to shoot films while Pinewood war used more for storage and other war related missions. After the war in 1945 the two studios used each others facilities and the credit on many productions displayed the D and P logo.

    The Denham scoring stage, in 1966, was taken over by Ken Cameron's company Anvil, who were formerly at a small studio by the name of Beaconsfield. Ken Cameron was an expert in recording, especially in music. He made his name in the forties and fifties creating soundtracks for many shorts and documentaries. Among his many clients were Hammer Films of which all the classic gothic soundtracks were created there at Beaconsfield. As Ken was drawing close to retiring age he hired Eric Tomlinson who was at the time working at CTS in Bayswater London. Eric was the scoring mixer on "Ryan's Daughter" scheduled to be recorded in July, 1970.

    By this time I had met David Lean and all the cutting crew. I wanted to be as close to every aspect of the production as possible, knowing it would probably be years before he decided on making another film. (Thanks to the mouth of critic Pauline Kael, little did I know just how long that would be!) When I heard that the scoring sessions were scheduled I approached editor Norman Savage and asked him if it was possible to attend. A few days later he came to me and said that he spoke to David and said gthat it would be okay. I then proceeded to book my vacation/holiday time to correspond with the sessions. I spent a whole week over at Anvil, Denham. I had a chair immediately behind the podium. Prior to this I had heard that Jarre was doing the score and that he was to conduct. It was a thrilling experience. I spent five days on the stage. Behind me was the recording room where I could see Eric Tomlinson, the mixer. David Lean attended every day. He always took the time to smile and say good morning to me. The orchestra was overwhelming. Immediately in front of the orchestra were nine harpists a mike hung over groups of three, representing left, center and right, when it came to record the Overture. Monique Rollin, a very attractive blonde lady, played the zither(?). I made a point of introducing myself to her as her playing was a big part of "Lawrence" and "Zhivago". On one of the days one of the nine harpists left at lunch and didn't return. This was the only time I saw Maurice lose his temper! He was very pleasant toward me and expressed amazement that I would want to spend all my vacation time on a recording stage. At this time Ken Cameron was taking care of administrative duties relating to the stage and as a consultant. He had a tiny office. He was a Scotsman and always wore a kilt. He also loved his whiskey! Like the rest of the 'old school gentlemen' of the British Film Industry, they were always well educated and well dressed and always had time to talk to you if they knew you were genuinely interested. Cameron died about a year ago and I was lucky to talk to him over the telephone shortly before he died.

    Several days were spent recording the sound effects and footsteps (foley). We were informed by the editors that this was to be a stereo soundtrack as the procedures for recording are very different to a mono film. No stereo or multiple miking was used. All the main foreground characters on the screen were recorded separately so that during the final mix there could be total control on each character's footsteps as they moved across the three speaker positions on the screen. The background crowd footsteps were done in two ways. Groups of feet movement for the left, center and right side of the screen. Also a track of footsteps would be recorded that would be panned back and forth between speakers. Sound effects and crowd voices were recorded in the same manner. This particular soundtrack was to be a four-track stereo mix, three channels behind the screen and the fourth channel would be for the mono surrounds.

    During this time two events happened involving "Lawrence of Arabia". In England, the film was re-issued in it's cut 202 minute UK version at the Dominion, Tottenham Court Road. David and I had a brief discussion about the color of this revival print in the men's toilet of all places outside Theatre 2's dubbing theatre!

    The other 'event' was that while he was cutting "Ryan" he spent several days over at Shepperton Studios, at the request of Columbia Pictures, removing a further 30 minutes out of "Lawrence" for the US only.

    The main mixing of "Ryan's Daughter" went very smoothly. By this time I knew Gordon McCallum, the dubbing mixer, very well and spent every available moment I had in the theatre during the pre-mixing of the dialog, efx and music. David Lean came in often and the two of them had many quite discussions on how he wanted the film to sound like. (Lean and McCallum are not strangers to each other. McCallum's career stretches back to the 40's and had dubbed several of Lean's films). Often it would be just the three of us other times many of the sound editors would be in attendance when their work was being mixed.

    I think that during all this time I only once went into David Lean's editing room and this was to collect some LP's of David's films that I asked Norman if he would have him sign. It took several days and often when I would return from the studio bar at lunchtime, after a drink, I would take a short cut through the executive restaurant and there at a table by the window David would be sitting on his own having his lunch, and as I passed by he would say hello and remind me that he had not forgotten to sign my LP's.

    Moments like these I will never forget.

    When David left for the US after the sound mix was completed. Roy Stevens, the production manager(?) wrote a letter, on David's behalf, addressed to the Sound Department staff:

    "As you know David left for America on Friday and he particularly wanted me to convey to you his thanks and admiration for the way all the personnel in the Dubbing Theatre have worked on this production. He said, in his opinion, Gordon McCallum and his Dubbing Crew are the finest crew anywhere in the world, and this is no small praise considering some of the fine facilities David has had in the past. He would appreciate it if you could convey this to your staff.

    I personally would like to thankyou for all the help and kindnesses shown to us throughout post-production of "Ryan's Daughter".

    Kind Regards,

    Yours sincerely,

    Roy Stevens."



    On one Sunday morning, a week or two before the premiere, I attended the Empire, Leicester Square for a test run for sound. Gordon McCallum was present and requested some equalisation of the theatre's sound system.

    The four-track mix had been artificially spread by Technicolor London's special technique as this was a 70mm roadshow release.

    This brought to an end my personal relationship with "Ryan's Daughter". The film, now, was ready to be presented to the world.

  2. #2
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    Originally posted by Jonathan Woss@May 6 2005, 02:18 AM

    Hi Stephen,

    Facinating stuff. Thanks very much for that, I really enjoyed it but I am afraid to say that I'm overflowing with envy.

    Are there any other films you worked on that we could hear anecdotes about?

    Regards

    JW
    Hi, Jonathan, somewhere on the internet there is an account of my working on "The Shining". If I can find it, I'll post it here.

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    Thanks Stephen, this kind of history is better than the glossy PR movie mags!



    Best,

    Gibbie

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    Heathcliff
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    That is so great that you worked on that film!!! I love that film, especially the love scenes with Sarah Miles and the handsome officer... SO romantic... And very sad. A beautiful film. It's kind of hard to find it, they don't have it on Netflix in America.

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    (Heathcliff @ Aug 3 2005, 05:42 PM

    That is so great that you worked on that film!!! I love that film, especially the love scenes with Sarah Miles and the handsome officer... SO romantic... And very sad. A beautiful film. It's kind of hard to find it, they don't have it on Netflix in America.
    Warner Home Video recently announced the Region 1 US DVD release of "Ryan's Daughter", a two-disc special edition, on 7th February 2006.

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    (Stephen Pickard @ Oct 27 2005, 03:41 AM)

    Warner Home Video recently announced the Region 1 US DVD release of "Ryan's Daughter", a two-disc special edition, on 7th February 2006.
    Where in Ireland was ryan's daughter set?

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    (thirdlady @ Mar 18 2006, 07:50 PM)

    Where in Ireland was ryan's daughter set?
    It was filmed in Counties Clare & Kerry which are at the southern end of the West coast.



    From the IMDb Trivia page for the film:

    The village of "Kirrary" was built just for the film and dismantled afterwards -- shops, schoolhouse, church, pub, post office, etc. 200 workmen built it all using slate and 20,000 tons of granite from a dozen local quarries; anything less substantial wouldn't have stood up to the Atlantic gales. Many buildings had fitted interiors, ceilings, lighting, plumbing and even working fireplaces and chimneys.



    Steve

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    (Steve Crook @ Mar 18 2006, 10:58

    It was filmed in Counties Clare & Kerry which are at the southern end of the West coast.



    From the IMDb Trivia page for the film:

    The village of "Kirrary" was built just for the film and dismantled afterwards -- shops, schoolhouse, church, pub, post office, etc. 200 workmen built it all using slate and 20,000 tons of granite from a dozen local quarries; anything less substantial wouldn't have stood up to the Atlantic gales. Many buildings had fitted interiors, ceilings, lighting, plumbing and even working fireplaces and chimneys.



    Steve
    Thanks STeve!

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    Mostly on the Dingle Peninsula, opposite the Blasket Islands, with beach scenes I believe on Inch Strand; the world premiere was held in the little cinema at Dingle. The sets and buildings were demolished having been left to rot for a few years; now, of course, there are thoughts of constructing some sort of Ryan's Daughter theme park..

    However, some of the really spectacular coastal shots were taken in South Africa and matched in....

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    (Stephen Pickard @ May 6 2005, 12:54 AM)

    Acouple of days ago I responded to a thread on the Film Score Monthly message board with regard to "Ryan's Daughter". I thought it would be fitting to reproduce my response on this board for the benefit of those that might be interested. ...
    Dear Stephen Pickard,



    Thanks so much for sharing the memories of your involvement with "Ryan's Daughter." Without exaggeration, they are, for me, thrilling additions to the film history of RD. During that time, did you meet or work with Freddie Young, and if so, would you care to comment? I very much enjoyed Young's autobiography "Seventy Light Years," which has interesting chapters on each Lean movie he filmed, including RD.



    Regards,



    Barbara

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    (penfold @ Mar 19 2006, 07:18 AM)

    Mostly on the Dingle Peninsula, opposite the Blasket Islands, with beach scenes I believe on Inch Strand; the world premiere was held in the little cinema at Dingle. The sets and buildings were demolished having been left to rot for a few years; now, of course, there are thoughts of constructing some sort of Ryan's Daughter theme park..

    However, some of the really spectacular coastal shots were taken in South Africa and matched in....
    Hello, M,



    It sounded like a rugged but wonderful shoot for cast and crew. For anyone interested in reading further, see Freddie Young's fascinating account "Seventy Light Years" of shooting Ryan's Daughter and other Lean films. Young includes photos of the sets plus those torn down which I guarantee you'll pore over.



    Best,



    Barbara

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    Excellent stuff.



    I have to admit that David Lean's films have never really appealed to me. But your experiences of working within the industry in general - and of being involved with Ryan's Daughter in particular, is fascinating.



    As a film music fan, I'd love to be able to attend a recording session of a soundtrack.



    Hats off to you, my friend.

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    (theuofc @ Mar 20 2006, 05:04 AM)

    Dear Stephen Pickard,



    Thanks so much for sharing the memories of your involvement with "Ryan's Daughter." Without exaggeration, they are, for me, thrilling additions to the film history of RD. :clapping: During that time, did you meet or work with Freddie Young, and if so, would you care to comment? I very much enjoyed Young's autobiography "Seventy Light Years," which has interesting chapters on each Lean movie he filmed, including RD.



    Regards,



    Barbara
    Hello Barbara, thankyou for your message. Unfortunately my meeting with the great Freddie Young was very brief. One day during the final dubbing as I was leaving the mixing theatre (#2) somebody was taking Freddie Young into the theater. He smiled and said hello to me. In late '68 early '69 I watched Freddie lighting on the set of "Battle of Britain". It was a 65mm front projection set-up with one of the full-scale mock-ups of one of the aircraft. Unfortunately it wasn't a good day to go on the set as Freddy was shouting at somebody, so I didn't stay very long. I did watch one take, I recall, and the noise of the propellor engines was enormous in the confined space of the shooting stage.

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    (djdave @ Mar 20 2006, 05:00 PM)

    Excellent stuff. :clapping:



    I have to admit that David Lean's films have never really appealed to me. But your experiences of working within the industry in general - and of being involved with Ryan's Daughter in particular, is fascinating.



    As a film music fan, I'd love to be able to attend a recording session of a soundtrack. :thumbsup:



    Hats off to you, my friend.
    Hi Djdave, thanks for your message. I am a film music fan myself. Attending a music recording session is not easy. I was at an advantage that I was surrounded by post production personnel, where I worked, and once I got to know them it was comparitively easy to get permission. I visited three recording sessions in all. 'The Chairman" (Jerry Goldsmith) recorded at Shepperton, "Diamonds Are Forever" (John Barry) at CTS, Bayswater and "Ryan's Daughter" (Maurice Jarre) at Anvil, Denham. The last two sessions I spent my holiday/vacation time, the entire week sitting on the stage with the orchestra. Unfortunately these fine recording venues no longer exist.

    My suggestion to you is to get a job in a post production facility or studio where you are amongst a lot of post production people, mixers, editors etc. Good luck.

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    (penfold @ Mar 19 2006, 07:18 AM)

    Mostly on the Dingle Peninsula, opposite the Blasket Islands, with beach scenes I believe on Inch Strand; the world premiere was held in the little cinema at Dingle. The sets and buildings were demolished having been left to rot for a few years; now, of course, there are thoughts of constructing some sort of Ryan's Daughter theme park.. :confused1:

    However, some of the really spectacular coastal shots were taken in South Africa and matched in....
    Several years ago I travelled, with a friend, to Dingle. We rented a car and drove from Dublin all the way across Ireland to the Dingle Peninsula. It took the best part of a day and we arrived at the hotel late in the evening. We stayed at the Milltown, I think it was called, House Hotel. This is where Robert Mitchum stayed during shooting. I brought a video tape of the film with me and we sat down with the hotel manager and he was an enormous help in identifying a lot of the location sites. I brought with me a poster of the film which is probably hanging up in the lobby of the hotel now. During our stay we visited Dunquin which is the area where the village was built and all that remains is the cobble street and several crumpled buildings. I took a few bits of pieces from the ruins as a souvenier. We also visited what remained of the schoolhouse. The two main beaches used in Dingle was Coumenoule Cove and Inch Strand. The area where the bus drops off Christopher Jones and at the end takes Miles and Mitchum away is very close by. We managed to calculate the approximate area where they stood. The weather was uneven. The rain came and went with swift intervals. Unfortunately there was no storm of the scale of the one in the film. Other location we found was the graveyard where Mitchum visited his wife's grave and a castle ruin which served as the backdrop to Jones and Miles' meeting prior to the love scene.

    We stayed three to four days. When we returned to Dublin, we stayed in a hotel and also visited Coliemore Harbour which was a location used in the King Bros production "Gorgo" (1961). This film was also photographed by Freddie Young.

    On other occasions we visited Spain and Italy to visit the locations of Ray Harryhausen's fantasy classics, which I will discuss another time.

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    (Stephen Pickard @ Mar 20 2006, 10:13 PM)

    Hi Djdave, thanks for your message. I am a film music fan myself. Attending a music recording session is not easy. I was at an advantage that I was surrounded by post production personnel, where I worked, and once I got to know them it was comparitively easy to get permission. I visited three recording sessions in all. 'The Chairman" (Jerry Goldsmith) recorded at Shepperton, "Diamonds Are Forever" (John Barry) at CTS, Bayswater and "Ryan's Daughter" (Maurice Jarre) at Anvil, Denham. The last two sessions I spent my holiday/vacation time, the entire week sitting on the stage with the orchestra. Unfortunately these fine recording venues no longer exist.

    My suggestion to you is to get a job in a post production facility or studio where you are amongst a lot of post production people, mixers, editors etc. Good luck.
    Many, many thanks for that, Stephen.



    I'm involved in hospital and community radio. Late last year, I did a five minute package on film music to co-incide with Jaws' 30th anniversary and a film music concert at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester.



    I had the pleasure of interviewing one of the film music composition tutors at the National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield, near London. I also interviewed one of the students in a recording studio. I was then given a tour of the facilities, which was fascinating.



    The buildings are a part of British film production history, being the old Beaconsfield Studios (see biog on Britmovie). I thoroughly enjoyed myself, and although the piece was never broadcast it was a valuable experience.



    Quite a bit of film music has been recorded at Abbey Road Studios over the years: I don't know if it's finished now, but they did have an exhibition running where you could explore the history of this Mecca of British pop.

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    David Lean's masterpiece. Acting superb by all main characters. Finest work I've seen of Robert Mitchum. Trevor Howard magnificent as the priest, John Mills brilliant. Casting was perfect. Ryan was so convincing in his role and the camera work amid such beautiful scenery was excellent. The storm scene was a real tour de force and the love scenes were so tastefully done. I'm running out of adjectives but this film had everything. - Brian Boru.

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    Administrator Country: Wales Steve Crook's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Boru
    David Lean's masterpiece. Acting superb by all main characters. Finest work I've seen of Robert Mitchum. Trevor Howard magnificent as the priest, John Mills brilliant. Casting was perfect. Ryan was so convincing in his role and the camera work amid such beautiful scenery was excellent. The storm scene was a real tour de force and the love scenes were so tastefully done. I'm running out of adjectives but this film had everything. - Brian Boru.
    I think the the High King of Ireland liked it



    Steve

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    I recently visited the school used in the film, it's derelict & barely standing now, which is a great shame, in fact you wouldn't be able to find it unless you knew it was there, there's no signage or anything. I've always thought locations such as these would make great tourist attractions & as it's in a tourist hot spot anyway I'm amazed they don't take advantage of it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hell_driver
    I recently visited the school used in the film, it's derelict & barely standing now, which is a great shame, in fact you wouldn't be able to find it unless you knew it was there, there's no signage or anything. I've always thought locations such as these would make great tourist attractions & as it's in a tourist hot spot anyway I'm amazed they don't take advantage of it.
    A few years ago a friend and myself drove from Dublin to the Dingle Peninsula for about three days with the intention of visiting as many of the locations as possible. We stayed at the same hotel that Mitchum stayed at. I brought along a vhs of the film and we sat down with the hotel manager and he managed to identify quite a few of the locations. The main site of interest was where the village was built. We managed to find it, in total ruin ofcourse. The film unit destroyed the set deliberately so no rival film ubit could shoot there and show it on TV or in the theatres beforehand. The cobble street was still there and ruins of many of the buildings. I took a few bits and pieces for souveniers.

    Not long after, Sarah Miles and a film crew visited the area and shot a documentary.

    It is a very beautiful area and hope to go back there someday.

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