Andrew Lesnie: Cinematographer
Babe, Temptation of a Monk, The Lord of the Rings
October 2, 2002
Interview: Tim Waygood of Kodak Australia
POPCORN TAXI: ANDREW LESNIE STUDIED CINEMATOGRAPHY AT THE AFTRS IN THE LATE 1970S, DURING WHICH TIME HE WORKED WITH RENOWNED CINEMATOGRAPHERS DONALD MCALPINE, BRIAN PROBYN AND BILL CONSTABLE. AFTER A BRIEF STINT AS FREELANCE CURRENT AFFAIRS CAMERAMAN, ANDREW RETURNED TO ASSISTING ON MAINSTREAM PRODUCTIONS. HE ALSO SHOT 16MM, LOW BUDGET SHORT FILMS AND MUSIC VIDEOS.
During the 1980s he regularly photographed second unit footage for Dean Semler along with shooting features like The Delinquents, Boys in the Island, Emoh Ruo, and as he reminded me tonight, he acted as second unit for the Kennedy Miller mini-series Bodyline which Dean DOP'ed.
Andrew has twice been named Australian Cinematographer of the Year, in 1995 and 1996, and has gathered ACS Golden Tripod awards for Doing Time For Patsy Cline, for which he also received the 1995 AFI award for Best Cinematography, Babe, Temptation Of A Monk and Spider And Rose. Other credits include Two If By Sea, The Sugar Factory and Babe: Pig In The City.
Most recently, of course, he spent from 1999 to 2002, like today, as Director of Photography on the Peter Jackson-directed Tolkien trilogy The Lord of the Rings, for which Andrew won an Oscar, and that Oscar is actually sitting over there and in his rucksack--taken it away from keeping open his bedroom door--and been kind enough, at Gary's behest, to bring it along so at some time. Probably in the second half, he'll just kind of show it and then put it back.
So it doesn't do any harm just to get the oxygen, so let's have another round of applause: Andrew Lesnie! (applause and whistles)SO THIS MAN WHO HAS JUST WON AN OSCAR ACTUALLY STARTED OFF ON SIMON TOWNSEND'S WONDERWORLD.
Andrew Lesnie: WonderWorld was basically a current affairs show. It ran every afternoon within a half-hour slot. In half-an-hour they would run four four-minute stories and one rock clip.
There were four reporters and two producers, so each crew would film two stories in a day, so you had to deliver a four-minute story in half a day. It was sort of like the Shoot Out Festival in Newcastle where everyone has 24 hours to produce a film--except we would turn up, and if we arrived at a really terrible story, we'd have to invent something.
Because when your researcher says: "Here's the story. There's a cat that's been hit by a car", and there's no story. You know there isn't going to be four minutes worth of quality television, so you end up walking into a room full of cats, and it really smells, and you say: "Great, we're just going out to the car to get the gear and we'll be right back in".
So you get to the car and there's three of you, because the crew consisted of a sound recordist, a reporter and me, and we'd be back at the car, "Oh God, what are we going to do?"
The editorial style was to cut the montages to rock music so we also had to deliver a lot more cut-aways than the usual current affairs shows. So, basically we'd be doing 10 or 12 stories a week, and I did that for a year-and-a-half, so I generally shot a thousand feet of 16mm reversal per story.
It tends to make you not only extremely reactive and very fast on your feet at grabbing any opportunity that passes by, but we would also play parts and train reporters to operate cameras.
The one bonus of the show was that because it didn't conform to the standard current affairs show--that is to say it didn't go to air that night--and because it was a kid's show, we took the opportunity to experiment quite a lot.
In hindsight, it was a process of having to shoot so much material on a weekly basis and having to be as inventive as possible. And it was a fairly competitive group. When Simon Townsend first put the team together, about 50 per cent of the personnel were veteran current affairs people, and the other 50 per cent were what you would call 'the gamble'. Peter Morley was a safe bet; he's a really good cinematographer.
So, anyway, these sorts of stories and having to invent a structure and pump them out two a day, was a really fantastic education and it also taught you a lot about editing. I always think cinematographers should learn a lot about editing, because in the end, if you are designing coverage it's important to have some idea of how it is going to cut, or at least you are trying to make sure that the editor has got some opportunities to have multiple choices.
PT: WORKING WITH REVERSAL IT WOULD HAVE BEEN NECESSARY FOR YOU TO BE ON THE BALL ALL THE TIME, TO KEEP YOUR EXPOSURES DEAD RIGHT--IT'S NOT ALWAYS THE EASIEST STOCK TO USE. I'D LIKE TO MOVE ON TO THE NEXT CLIP, TEMPTATION OF A MONK, CLARA LAW'S SECOND FILM. WHAT FORMAT DID YOU SHOOT THAT ON?
AL: Well, we shot it spherical. It was 1.85. It's interesting, because that film more than any other taught me the sanctity of the still camera and a still composition. It's interesting because that format is sometimes compressed or stretched or letterboxed or it's just been jammed to a full screen and so I find it's very hard to control what format a lot of work goes out in.
So, Clara was still living in Hong Kong and she came to Australia to look at post-production sound facilities and we met and swapped films. She had directed some films in Hong Kong--which I thought were really interesting--and she looked at some of my work and invited me to work on this film.
The film was based out of Beijing and used the Beijing studios and also we would take these coaster bus trips north and west of Beijing, and it was winter so frequently a lot of the outdoor scenes we were filming in minus 30 so that the breath coming out of their mouths is really authentic.
So we were all dressed like Michelin men and bouncing around the landscape and it was physically a very gruelling film and it wasn't like it was a foreign production like an American film, which rolls into a foreign country and tends to sort of bring such a big machine with it that everyone is still in their comfort zone.
There were six Australians on the film, then there were crew from Hong Kong and then there were mainland Chinese crew--so we had communication difficulties--and the temperature! I found it a very rich and rewarding experience to be exposed to Chinese culture. It was like jumping in at the deep end.
For me, it was important to try and find some sort of sub-text to work the film off, so I decided it was a story of a man of war who becomes a man of peace and that was the pivot, that dictated my photographic style for the production, I worked very closely with the designers too. It was a very rewarding experience!
I got to work with Joan Chen, who I think is just gorgeous. It was a very hard and difficult project but when I finally saw the end result I was immensely pleased.
The first two weeks of the shoot were in these mountains outside Beijing so for the first two weeks we had to go without knowing what any of the footage was coming out like. It was processed in Hong Kong.
I took a focus puller who I'd worked with for a very long time, a gentleman called Colin Dean. It is very difficult to find a great focus puller and when you find someone like that you're very loathe to let them go.
And he was there and we had prepped the cameras in Hong Kong and then we went to China and then hopped on one of these convoys and went out to the mountains, and we were staying in a hostel and I'd been speaking to the producers about what format we'd be shooting with and we decided the format, the frame, was going to be 1.85.
But when you shoot 1.85, you're actually shooting more of the negative than that frame. So I said, "If you do not want the film to be corrupted in any way, shape or form, the gate for the camera should be one-eight-five."
They decided to go ahead with what's called an academy gate which is full-frame, much more square shaped.
Anyway, on the night one of the producers arrived, the night before we were to start filming, and handed Colin two gates in a plastic bag and said "We will go with these, we've decided to go with the hard format," and handed Colin these two gates, which meant we then had to perform some surgery in the camera in the middle of nowhere and then proceed to shoot for two weeks without knowing what it was going to look like.
Without even being able to get anything off to the lab to say, "Is this ok?", because you can completely devastate an image if you don't have the gate sitting properly, you can change the range depth and everything can be out of focus.
The other problem we had was he arrived at twilight and handed the gates to Colin, and because we decided to keep all the camera gear out in this truck--because if you drag all the lenses inside they get condensation problems and since we were filming outside we just left them all out in the truck.
So we're an hour outside in the truck at night, I don't know what temperature it dropped from minus 30 to, and all we had was a bar heater and I was holding a torch, we're both out there trying to sort this thing out . But anyway, it was fun.
PT: WE'RE GOING TO HAVE A LOOK NOW AT A SCENE FROM DOING TIME FOR PATSY CLINE. THE DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY HAS A FANTASTIC RESPONSIBILITY ON THE SHOOT. SOME DOPS PREFER TO JUST DO THAT, OTHER DOPS LIKE TO ACTIVELY ASSIST THE DIRECTOR WITH AS MUCH INPUT AS POSSIBLE. I THINK ANDREW FALLS INTO THE LATTER CATEGORY. I HAVE TO ASK, AM I RIGHT AND DO YOU ENJOY DOING THAT, AND HOW IMPORTANT DO YOU THINK IT IS--YOUR INPUTTING WITH THE CLOSE WORKING RELATIONSHIP WITH THE DIRECTOR ON THE SET?
AL: Yeah I fit the second category. There are DOPs--it is a danger to generalise because we are a diverse group of people with different tastes and different styles--I could say that I fall into the school of cinematographers who want to direct, but I think it would probably be more fair to say that when I work with the right directors who give me the opportunity to have some input into the process, so that I feel more like I'm making the film with them rather than being the guy that lights. That satisfies any directorial desire I have.
I had a good input into this film, but Chris Kennedy and I had that relationship right from the beginning. Chris said he was interested in me having an input in the coverage and talking through the scenes and working out what each scene was about and discussing the dialogue, sitting in on rehearsals and being there when the choreography was being decided on.
And so I think it's very hard to divorce the lighting and the camera and the framing from the actual drama. I know there are DPs that have a different view to this and are much more obsessed with the lighting in its own right and I can say I'm obsessed with light along with any cinematographer, but I do like the opportunity to have input into quite a variety of levels of filmmaking.
I'm sure there are some directors that invite it, and I'm being treated like any member of the cast, and so I put my suggestions and they're completely ignored, and I have my odd mid-life crisis where I'll think I'm just not wanted on this set, and the director will be going saying, 'No, no, you're very important', and I'll be like, 'Okay, thanks'. And with a pat on my shoulder and then we get back into it.
But the relationship I've had with George Miller has been where, if anything strikes me at all about anything, he has said repeatedly that he wants my honest opinion. It's important to him that I just say what I think. I had the same relationship with Peter Jackson, I had the same relationship with Chris Noonan, and I had the same relationship with Chris Kennedy.
Chris is a writer and he admits himself that his background is in writing, and that when he goes through the process of making the film, he seeks people that are prepared to be collaborators. So with this film he was actively looking for collaboration from myself, he was looking for collaboration from the designer, Roger Ford, from the first Assistant Director, Chris Webb, and Ken Sallows, the editor.
Ken was part of the filmmaking process so he was able to have input while we were making the film. That was really good. It was an extremely happy shoot. I think everyone was very energised because, everyone felt that filmmaking never works by committee, there is always a hierarchy, but as long as people within that understand that, then you have to give them the freedom to contribute.
So I always made sure Chris Kennedy was completely in the loop about anything that was going down, any conceptual idea or change, I always ran by Chris to get his approval. I think he was comfortable with that and that way he gave us a lost of leash, but we didn't run away with it. We didn't abuse that privilege.
AUDIENCE: I THOUGHT TEMPTATION OF A MONK WAS A BEAUTIFUL FILM, AND I THINK CLARA LAW SEEMS TO HAVE A CERTAIN VISUAL STYLE. YOU DIDN'T MENTION HER IN THAT LIST OF PEOPLE YOU HAD A COLLABORATIVE RELATIONSHIP WITH. HOW DID YOU FIND WORKING WITH HER IF SHE IS SO INTENT ON HOW THINGS LOOK?
AL: Each relationship is unique, every director you work with is a unique relationship and there is obviously various levels of contribution that you make. I found that Clara gave me quite a lot of autonomy. She has quite a lot of ideas about coverage but a lot of the specifics of the coverage she was happy to leave to me.
Also, we ran a style in that film of trying to make it like a photo-album. It was very formal and very 'proscenium arch', and so within a frame like that there are huge disciplines. I'm part of an era that likes to move the camera, Peter Jackson is another fine proponent of it, if he is not propelled forward at about every single moment, if he's not actually heading towards something, it's a crisis.
About a third of the way into the project I said, 'You know it would be great if we just held back a bit', and he said, 'Why didn't you say this earlier? That's one of the reasons I hired you for: to hold me back!'
I've found you can spend as much time on a still frame as you can designing a complex steadicam shot that goes through a house and climbs on a crane and goes everywhere else.
There were scenes in Temptation where someone would walk up, it would be very specifically framed with the architecture, and that person would walk up until the hand was in the foreground and then they would sit down. And that had to be perfectly framed so what you were doing is dropping the camera like an inch, up and down, and an inch, left and right, and maybe changing focal length, all while lights are going up and actors are being prepared.
You think you just plonk the camera there, line this up, but once you actually start trying to finesse it, it really is quite time consuming. All those things Clara left to me. I think for Clara it was important that I understood her intention and her style and where her direction was coming from, but once I was in sync with that she gave me a fair amount of opportunity to create, which is what is terrific with Clara.
It would also involve moving elements of the art direction. It's one of those things where if you haven't worked with someone before, you have to get to know them. I've worked with some directors where it's been like a lot of relationships in the film industry, what you are really talking about is trust.
You are establishing a relationship of trust based on mutual respect. So with various people it takes a little longer than some, sometimes you hear very experienced technicians--I've heard gaffers say they've worked with DPs overseas and they say at the end of the job, 'I think I failed to earn his trust'.
Unless you have been in the business a while and understand the fine-tuning that a lot of relationships need to go through in an artistic endeavour, people wouldn't necessarily understand that line. It happens on every single job--and especially with a new director.
I worked with Rodney Fisher on the Melba mini-series, and Dean Semler did the first stage of the shoot, which was done in three stages. There was a stage that was shot here, then there was a few months in Europe, and then the shoot came back to Australia.
I picked it up in Europe and I remember my very first day and I talked to Rodney who had been working with Dean who is one of the most sensational people to work with on the planet he's funny, he's polite, he's extremely enthusiastic and with boundless energy, it's just that it's such a hard act to follow!
And we were in the Paris Opera and I had to do a shot in the foyer of Melba coming up the stairs and I kept tilting up to the ceiling to this painting. And Rodney said he had some music for this sequence so I stuck the headphones on and I operated the shot and he stood right behind me, and he said that when he watched me perform that shot to the music he knew the relationship was going to be okay.
It's different with every person. It's getting to know someone and getting to develop that relationship.
AUD: IS THE LACK OF CONTROL OVER DELIVERY FORMATS A CONTINUAL FRUSTRATION TO YOU, SPECIFICALLY LIKE WIDE-SCREEN VERSUS FULL SCREEN ON DVD OR IS IT SOMETHING YOU'RE RESIGNED TO NOW?
AL: I'm getting resigned to it! There's just so many formats. We spent quite a lot of time on the DVD for The Lord Of The Rings. The master was being done at Warner Brothers in L.A., and we were being sent discs. I thought DVD was a universal disc, and then I discovered it's not. Just getting it from NTSC to PAL! They're burning discs and we're looking at them going, 'Well, this colour's not right", having the show needing to be delivered in so many formats, especially the airline version, which was a real hoot, it's great watching an epic on a screen this big.
AUD: LOOKING AT TEMPTATION OF A MONK THERE ARE A COUPLE OF MEMORABLE SCENES WHICH STAND OUT FOR ME. THERE'S A SCENE WHERE A GROUP OF PEOPLE GO DOWN THROUGH A CANYON AND ARROWS COME OUT AT THEM. I WAS THINKING, 'WOW. DID YOU GUYS HAVE OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH AND SAFETY BECAUSE YOUR PRODUCER SOUNDS LIKE A REALLY TOP BLOKE, WELL ORGANISED.
AL: I have to say is it was certainly an education in the value of life in different countries. Generally they'd put scaff towers up and all the extras would fire these arrows.
The sound department was Gary Wilkins and the boom operator was the veteran Mark Wasiutak, and Mark is a really funny guy who's been around for a very long time, so we were filming another of the battle scenes and there are arrows raining in and we're here and Gary's over there with his trolley and Mark's over there recording, and suddenly Mark looks at his jacket and sees an arrow has penetrated the outer layers of his jacket, and it's a steel tipped arrow.
So he yanks it out and goes walking past, and Gary says: "You can record over here, Mark, it's safe over here"; and Mark comes marching past, gathering up the cables, muttering.
Later on, one of the fx technicians came up and jabbed him with a rubber-tipped arrow as if to say: "Look, see it's okay!" But there were some very confronting elements on that shoot. I found just looking at some lights in a hotel room which involved literally grabbing wires and sticking them into plate sockets to get them going.
Sometimes, on some shoots, when we were a bit short-manned, I'd jump on and adjust some lights, and the gaffer--who was John Morton--came by once with gloves on, and said, "Don't touch any of the lights, they're live".
Which meant the housing was actually coursing with electricity as well as the actual lamps. So you had to pay attention.
AUD: HOW INVOLVED ARE YOU IN THE EDITING PROCESS, AND WHAT IS YOUR OPINION OF THE WHOLE DIGITAL REVOLUTION--IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO GO WITH THAT OR IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO STICK WITH FILM?
AL: From my perspective, editing is the editor's domain. If I'm invited into witness some of the cut, that's great; I'll take that opportunity but I don't generally barge in, uninvited. I've found I have a pretty good relationship with most editors I've worked with because I know that film is an organic development and there's all these stages the film goes through and it keeps undergoing a certain transition.
And when it goes into post-production, although I've been heavily involved with it on the shoot, it will be like seeing a child off, it will develop further in post-production.
I have to acknowledge that and when you see some of your finest work hitting the cutting-room floor, I have to tell myself that if it serves the film for that sequence or those shots to be out, then I buy that; I am not precious about imagery if it's not actually serving the story.
I do sometimes take up a case with directors and editors if they have selected a take--say, a soft close-up when I know there is a sharp take--because then I will require them to say why this performance is so staggeringly better than that one when I look at both of them and I can't see any substantial change between the two.
So, sometimes I have those conversations but I don't believe in throwing sub-standard stuff in front of an audience unless there is nothing else. Editors should always cut the performance, that is their priority and I support that priority over any technical aspect of the film.
The second question: the digital issue. I'm not a film fanatic, I've grown up with film but I firmly believe at some point I will be shooting a digital format. For me I equate it to painters who are also sculptors, it merely is another medium in which to express yourself, you either have the innate sensibility to express yourself or you don't. If one is unavailable you'll move on to the other.
I am watching the digital revolution with interest, but to be perfectly honest I think its fantastic that kids can take a digital camera and shoot a film and cut it on a laptop and put a mix to it, and effects and come out with a finished, polished project. I think that is sensational technology.
AUDIENCE: NOW THAT YOU ARE VERY EXPERIENCED AND HAVE WON THE OSCAR, SO YOU CAN BE QUITE CHOOSY ABOUT YOUR JOBS THAT YOU DO. I WAS WONDERING WHAT YOUR CRITERIA ARE FOR CHOOSING A JOB, WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR IN FILM NOW?
AL: The basic principles with which I work is script and performance--they are the two essential criteria for making a good film. There has been an increase in scripts since I have won the Oscar but I can confidently say the quality has not improved one iota.
In fact I am more appalled than ever. I always remember Chris Noonan after Babe, he fielded so many scripts that it took him months and months and months of endless reading--and at the end of it there were only two scripts. He didn't even like the writing but the ideas were faintly appealing.
I haven't had nearly that many scripts but you still end up looking for a story that you think is worth telling, and it may be a story that someone else doesn't think is worth telling.
And you may get sent scripts that are okay, but I suppose the most diplomatic way I could ever put it (which is how I did put it) is that 'it is just not my cup of tea'. Some are well written but do not hold any major interest for me, personally.
I used to be embarrassed about telling people what I thought because I thought I would hurt their feelings, but in the end I think it is better if I just say what I think, because the last thing people want is a DP on set that only half believes in the project.
That's the last thing any director wants and it is doing a disservice to both positions. Yes, so script and then the next priority is the director--because that will be your closest working relationship--what is the director? What sort of person are they? What opportunities are they likely to allow you to explore in the working relationship? They are the priorities.
PT: NOW LET'S TALK ABOUT BABE. I GOT INVITED DOWN ON TO SET AND I ARRIVED AT ROBERTSON--IT WAS A COLD DAY, DUST BLOWING AND A LOT OF GUYS LOOKING LIKE MAD MAX EXTRAS, MAYBE. ANDREW WAS BUSY SHOOTING AND I QUIETLY WENT OVER AND HE ACKNOWLEDGED ME, SAID, 'CAN YOU HANG ON JUST A MINUTE? JUST COME OVER HERE, I'LL CHAT WITH YOU IN A MINUTE'.
All of a sudden someone said, 'All right, we're ready for the duck now'. The wrangler brought the duck out, and Andrew, who of course was working day-by-day and was completely used to all this--the wrangler brought the duck out, who was on a lead. He put down this green piece of hardboard and he said to Andrew: "What do you want the duck to do?" Chris said, 'Well, he has to look at the camera, he has to look left, then right, then look at the camera'. I kind of went, 'Aw yeah'.
So they've done a bit of rehearsal of this duck and the wrangler made several noises: the duck turned this way, the duck turned that way looked at camera, as if it was 'playback'. I was absolutely gobsmacked. Andrew said "we will be with you in a minute". Then he checked the gate, off we went, 'Action, bang'.
The duck got on the thing, he looked at the camera, he looked right, he looked left, and it was done. And Andrew turned as if it was most natural thing in the world. 'Ah, how are you, Tim?' I remember quite clearly that, and then about an hour later I was watching pigs running around and pushing between the sofas and absolutely hitting their marks. The only thing the pig was interested in after it had done this incredibly intricate move around the set, was the fact that it sat down, looked up and got its little piece of food afterwards. It was extraordinary.
AL: If it only went that smoothly! The pigs were the most difficult animals to work with--short of kangaroos, who have absolutely no interest whatsoever.
I remember we were outside that barn one day, we were all set up and it was raining. They brought the animals down and stored them in the barn until they brought them out for the shot. So, we were out there and we all had our wet weather cover on and it was teeming, and we see the pig come up to the doorway, in the line where the rain is hitting, and then it is dry until the pig is right there, and then the trainer went to push it out and it just dug its heels in.
So we are all sitting out there in the rain, and the trainer is trying to get it out of the door, and the pig's like this. I said: 'That pig's smart. Like, check this out. There's a bunch of humans sitting out in the rain. Who's the dummy?'
The interesting thing was, with that shoot, the camera was so low to the ground for virtually six months and we had to be there--once again poor old Colin was focus-pulling--so he and I would sit there while the animals were being trained up, because you never knew.
Once you had everything in position and you were in sort of whisper mode with the crew, and you are making little signals, so things are being adjusted off set. But you had to sit there, by the camera, because it was stated that if we were off somewhere else when the animal was being trained up it would be a disruption to suddenly have two bodies suddenly present.
So we sat there. You would sit there, looking through the viewfinder, and you would both be sitting there. I mean I used to call it the biggest budget documentary in the world because you get massive amounts of technology and lots of people--and there were hundreds of people on that set--and then, finally, when they get this animal there, it is completely out of control, and you think, 'Thank God I did current affairs. Thank God I did documentaries', because your hand is on the zoom, you are chasing this thing.
Ducks are the worst. We found that with most animals--you keep looking at their faces after a while--and you would start to see some semblance of what they are thinking, but ducks! You got no idea whatsoever. And they are so reactive, like, phoom! Shit, I missed that. Then: phoom!
And then when they had the animatronic duck, they had three mad puppeteers and they were on their own planet, and they were always down below the floor.
So there was this duck--and I thought, well, they are completely faithful to a real duck because it is making absolutely no logical sense either.
There was a lot of hit and miss on the first Babe film, but there were a lot of magic moments, too. I did find that actually, physically being down there and having the camera down low, and us having to be down low when an animal is being trained, it certainly puts you in their perspective more than a human perspective, because we were down at the level for months on end and I remember the pigs: they train the pigs with those plastic rakes.
It wasn't used as a hitting tool, but just as a blocking tool. The pigs were scroungers, looking for the nearest exit. So, say, there's the pig; it has to walk from here to there and look up there or something. It comes walking down, and you'd be watching the first rehearsal and there would be a whole lot of trainers there with these plastic rakes, and you would watch the pig come down, and it would start to veer that way, and one of them would put a rake out, and it would start to head this way and another rake would go down.
But what was really scary was sometimes it would overshoot its mark and start coming straight for the lens and suddenly: boom! We would be going 'Whoa!' on one side and the pig would be going 'Whoa!' on the other.
There were times I really felt for those animals. Then, at breakfast in the morning you would get some crew member helping themselves to rashers of bacon going, 'Revenge, revenge'.
PT: WE WILL RUN A COUPLE OF CLIPS, ONE FROM BABE AND ONE FROM BABE: PIG IN THE CITY AND COME BACK FOR A FEW QUESTIONS. THEN HAVE A BREAK, OKAY?
AL: There are so many clips from Babe that I like: the opening sequence I was always fond of although it had its share of technical problems. Mainly that the suckling piglets and the mothers and the actual big piggery couldn't be filmed on the same location, for hygiene reasons.
The piglets couldn't be exposed to 300 mainstream pigs, so we ended up designing a shot that was a motion-control shot that tracked across the three pens of suckling pigs, and passed through this little control booth and came out the other side. We were then on another set.
This was done as an old fashioned optical, wasn't digital, so it was the control booth, the point at which we did it. Steve Newman executed the first half of the shot and then I executed the second half of the shot and the piggery itself.
We took over a rather sizeable light industrial facility in Mittagong and built a huge scaff structure, then they brought all the pigs in and we shot all the stuff in that big piggery in a day.
We shot all the mothers and the piglets suckling and the mother getting prodded out of the cage in half-a-day on the other location.
The night track going through the stop booth, that was done in a half night shoot. So all up that sequence is two days' work.
You know what I find with some of these big projects is people always say, 'Oh, isn't it fantastic, you have a copious amount of time to do some of these things', but in fact, sometimes, I find there are days that are just like a low budget film, and everyone is hot-footing through it. You actually have a lot of screen time to get.
For one reason or another, it will not necessarily be the sort of the problems that afflict low budget films--which is: you can only afford a location for a day. It may be actor availability, or it may be some other set of circumstances.
Also, there is a piece of lighting that enhanced the story. I was always incredibly, immensely proud of the sight of the track with the 'Meats' sign. I ended up with an entire concrete fa ade with massive lights in the distance and exposing vast amounts of landscape.
I had the entire electrics department building these little windows so that when the truck came through it was in silhouette. But just at a certain point it hit those letters and they come through, and we keep panning, then come to a stop. Then literally, only at the point that you can read the 'Meats' then the word starts going out again.
I know sometimes it is only really small things that really grab me. Other people go, 'Isn't that really great?' and I am standing there going, 'Yep, but isn't this fantastic!' I was thrilled by that.
The second sequence in Babe: Pig In The City was the track in to where Flealick, who is the dog on wheels, gets hurled off the track and is lying there and we track into the wheel, and just as we get there the wheel comes to a stop and there are burning barrows in the distance. There is a fairly large landscape behind and there is smoke and back-lights, and the whole trip.
And you know, we have to train the dog to lie there, although it was a fairly cold night, so it tended to have a bit of a shiver on its foreleg, and we had this wheel spinning, and a crane coming in. It took quite a lot to get the shot.
Sometimes I feel there is great synergy between the intent and pulling it off, as perfectly as I think anyone is ever going to get it on the planet. To me, that shot, I found that audiences who have watched it have found it a very moving moment, because before his near-death experience, everyone thinks he is dead. This is symbolic, closing in on the wheel--and it is held perfectly in focus all the way in--and the entire environment, and the dog is lying there.
The actual technical complexities of the shot; there is no digital work, all completely live. You know, we worked on that shot solidly for half the night, because we really didn't want to let it alone until we felt that we had pulled it off.
I look at that--because I am frequently very critical about my own work--but there are some small moments throughout my film career where I just go, 'Yep, that's great. Right on the mark.' It's servicing this story absolutely as best as anyone could ever get it and I defy anyone to tell this moment any better.
I am not saying that happens in every film, but at that moment, in that story, this is technically as serving as it could possibly be. And I thought that was.
PT: THERE WAS SOME CRITICISM, WHICH I THOUGHT WAS QUITE UNFAIR, ACTUALLY. YES, THE SECOND FILM WAS SLIGHTLY MORE SERIOUS, BUT THERE WAS A LOT OF ADVERSE PRESS ON THE SECOND FILM. WHEN YOU WERE MAKING IT, DID YOU HAVE ANY FEELINGS THAT THERE MIGHT BE THAT KIND OF REACTION? BABE 1 WAS SUCH A HAPPY FILM, THE WAY IT ENDED--WHEN I WAS IN THE CINEMA EVERYONE BROKE OUT WITH LAUGHTER, WHEN THE PIG WON THE COMPETITION. IN THE SECOND ONE, OF COURSE, IT WAS SLIGHTLY MORE MACABRE. WHEN YOU WERE MAKING IT, DID IT CONCERN YOU THAT IT MIGHT GET THAT KIND OF REACTION?
AL: I thought that George was at least courageous not to take it in the same direction. There is always the studio executive who says, 'We liked the first one, so let's go down to the farm again', and at least as much as I knew the film was treading darker territory.
There is a huge slab of the film that is set at night, which sort of worried me a lot, since night is, film-wise, it is already a construct, you are already creating an artificial concept for night, for film, so I have often said that people write a scene, "Two people standing out in the country in the middle of the night.
If you are going to do the 'dogma' style, I guess it would be a radio play. Short of putting a night-scope on it, there is no light, so from that point on, assuming that someone was to see something as well as hear it, what you are doing is creating your own construct of what night is.
At this point, then you will get people launching their different ways: the school of thought that hates blue moonlight, the school that loves it, the 'day-for-nighters--there are all sorts of opportunities and it depends on how appropriate it is to the story.
I made a conscious effort to light the night exteriors up and make them more colourful because it would bother me when an audience is subjected, in a cinema, to a large slab of story at night, it does actually have an impact on the way they are perceiving the film--generally making them very depressed.
If the story is one of a serial killer, say, and you want it to be dark or you want it to be depressing, that's fine. That is what the story is calling for. But I do not want people to go there because someone is setting a sizeable part of the story at night in a city. I don't necessarily believe that it needs to be dark and gloomy.
I know the film waswhen the reviews came out, they said, "it looks very dark", but the reality was they weren't talking about the brightness of the image. It was because, I think it surprised the people that the film took a beloved character and sort of pushed them into a much more aggressive environment.
To be quite frank, there are scenes that we photographed that are not in the cut, that will never be seen, and that stuff is much darker than anything people who have seen the film--it is much darker than anything that was seen. At that time, I absolutely applauded George for his courage.
When the various crises hit--and I never heard the full story and in a way I don't want to know--it was a film that was in competition with several other children's films on the Thanksgiving weekend. That means you have a number of studios that are extremely cut-throat about crucifying any of the opposition in order to get the biggest crowd for their film. I think the film fell victim to that.
PT: I WOULD AGREE WITH THAT. I MIGHT HAVE MENTIONED TO YOU BEFORE THAT THE SHOT WHERE IT MOVES UP THE STAIRWAY TO WHERE YOU HAVE THE BIG CHIMP AT THE TOP LOOKING DOWN--I THOUGHT THAT SHOT MUST HAVE BEEN ABOUT 40 SECONDS LONG. IT IS SUCH A COMPLICATED MOVE RIGHT UP AND THEN THE CHIMP LOOKS AT THE CAMERA AND HAS THIS BRILLIANT CHANGE OF EXPRESSION. JUST A VERY GOOD FILM.
AL: The second film was more complex in a way, than the first, because there were more animal groups. That was probably the biggest difference for the second film.
When you have an animal group, multiple species, it is much more time-consuming because a lot of them just don't get along. The pit bull--in pre-production--I was worried. It was the chimps I ended up becoming worried about. I treated them with respect right from the beginning but if I do anything else involving chimps I will certainly keep my eye on them. They are not human, I will tell you right now, and they do not lead their lives according to our rules, that's for sure.
The pigs are just recalcitrant and the pit bull--the pit bull bothered me because I saw an early test where they had the pit bullwe were trying to design tracking systems to go very fast down narrow areas with the animals and we had golf buggies and steadicam operators on the back.
They had trainers, and these trainers released this pit bull up the end of this laneway and the vehicle was rocketing along, and the steadicam--and the dog was chasing it and going berserk. It is supposed to pass this point where the trainers step in--and they had these big chains--and were going to chain it and grab it.
Anyway, it barrelled through there, so now the guys on the golf buggy are still driving it and now they are getting chased by this pit bull.
Eventually they come to a stop and the trainer on the back has a towel that is wrapped up and that dog just leapt straight at him. Then I discovered that they were attack dogs trained to go for the throat.
So this guy is leaping, and I am going, 'Oh, my God we haven't even started the shoot yet'. This dog is leaping through the air and this guy gets this towel around it. I don't know how he managed to hold it there. It wasn't even hurting--the dog was now on his lap and he had this towel around its throat and was just holding it there.
Then the trainers all running, people screaming, and it was--when the dog turned up on the shoot it was incredibly docile. From that point on, George was always going, 'Could we get a bit more oomph out of this dog?'
Then they stood the dog alongside the pig--we didn't even have to do a split screen--and now the pig is prodding the dog, people are saying, 'Get that pig off that dog, off the pit bull.'
You would have thought that in real life the pit bull would have taken the pig apart and eaten it before anyone had even got to it, and here they are, like, I don't know what had happened, but I felt really sad for that pit bull.
AUD: AS FILMMAKERS WE ARE ALWAYS GROWING AND EVOLVING, AND YOU MUST KNOW THAT NOW PEOPLE ARE LOOKING AT YOUR WORK FOR INSPIRATION. WHO DO YOU LOOK TO FOR YOUR INSPIRATION, WHO OR WHAT DO YOU LOOK FOR AS FAR AS YOUR GROWTH?
AL: I look at everybody's work for inspiration. I have always tried to tell myself to be slow to judge, and so I go to films and sometimes I remember saying, 'This is a really terrible film,' but I am trying to see something good in it.
I can say there are cinematographers that I have admired for many years. Like, at the moment at the top of my range would probably be Dante Spinotti (cinematographer, L.A. Confidential) and Roger Deakins (cinematographer, No Country For Old Men). I was really impressed with Geoffrey Hall's work on Dirty Deeds.
You just absorb stuff out of life and in the end you are only bringing yourself to a project, so ultimately that is what it comes down to. So it's the influences from not only visual references but any life experience you bring to a project.
Having children has been a huge growth experience for me, which I had a crisis about for a few years, but I am slowly getting over it, and I would say that probably by the time I am a grandfather, I will be over it.
All these things are character building. As I get older I approach situations in some waysI am less hungry in some ways, probably photographically more hungry in my desire for people management, because that is something I feel comes with age.
To me, it is important that you actually have a quality shoot where the people on the crew--as much as I absolutely adhere to the hype and the idea that there is a hierarchy on a set, I still want all the personnel involved in making the film to feel they are actually working on a creative endeavour that requires everyone.
Those sorts of things tend not to be at the top of the list when you are a young cinematographer, or when you are starting out, and gunning to get your first credits on the scoreboard because nobody is going to take you seriously unless you have shot a feature.
So you are hungry to grab projects and your criteria--well, these were my criteria--was to shoot the film. So I was not as analytical about it as I am now.
To a certain extent you desire to be in a situation where you can pick and choose, and so you dream of the day when the scripts will be flooding in and you can sit back and pick and choose.
Once you get there, obviously there are a whole different set of scenarios taking place. The scripts are lousy, so when you get right down to it there is not that much to pick and choose from. You are typecast because you have done a big visual effects film, so now 'he' is one of the catalogue of people that will do $100 million visual effect films.
So these suddenly become issues that you never thought about 20 years ago when you were starting out. It would never occur to you that you potentially have a crisis that you are not being offered independent projects, you are only being offered huge Hollywood studio films because 'that is what you do now'.
I don't like to be pigeon-holed, but these sort of issues pop up. When you are talking about inspiration it has to be an individual thing, for different people. That is where I draw myit is just a life experience thing for me.
AUD: ANDREW, IT IS CLEAR THAT YOU HAVE A TERRIFIC SENSE OF HUMOUR. I WOULD BE INTERESTED TO KNOW ABOUT YOUR PATIENCE. THE BABE SHOOT WAS LONG AND YOU WORKED CLOSE TO THE GROUND, DEALING WITH TECHNICALITIES ALL THE TIME. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH THAT, HOW DO YOU CONTRIBUTE TOWARDS WHAT I IMAGINE THE FILM NEEDS.
AL: Everyone says I am really patient on set, which is great. I don't necessarily always feel that way in my head but maybe it is an aura I project in order to make people feel that things are really under control, when in fact I am--the moment I turn away, I am going: 'Oh, my God! Big wet disaster!' Inevitably I take it out on the family the moment I get home.
PT: OR ON THE CAT?
AL: No, I haven't got a cat.
PT: OH, NO, YOU KILLED IT.
AL: The dog doesn't like being kicked. I go home and in order to get back to real life I go through what Robin and I now call my 'Blue Period', which is where you bounce off the walls for a while, and you have to remind yourself when you say, 'Put the garbage out', it's you that has to put it out--yourself.
Micky Morris, one of the industry's most experienced gaffers, told me a great story. He worked on a Fred Schepisi film in Japan, Mr. Baseball, and he was the gaffer and he had a Japanese electrics crew and he had a Japanese best boy.
He met the best boy many years later--in fact, this year--and he said that the best boy said about the Australian crew that humour was a very high priority on the list, on a daily basis, so that one of the things that was uppermost on the list, on a daily basis, was maintaining a sense of humour and having a laugh.
That was the thing this guy remembered from the Australians. I don't know when Mr. Baseball was made (1992) but it was made quite some time back. He has run his crew along those lines ever since and it has been an enormously successful technique and he is hugely respected in the Japanese industry. I thought that was a great story, because people always ask me what do Australians bring to filmmaking, and what do all Australians who have gone to America and become successful, what do they bring? I think they just bring a sense of humour.
Having a sense of humour about making the film doesn't actually diminish the type of film you are making or the emotional intensity of the film you are making, but it is also remembering that you are making a piece of art. If you are going to start saying it is an important occupation, it pales in huge significance as far as I am concerned to any teacher, nurse or doctor who perform, in my opinion, critical jobs in society development. At the same time, filmmakers are also serving a function. I figure, if people can't enjoy themselves while they are doing the film, then sometimes you've got to ask yourself, "What's the point?"
I have made a few errors of judgement. I have made several in my career and I have made a very high profile error of judgement in my recent career, by basically agreeing to do a project that I should have turned down. I can confidently say there was no humour on that set whatsoever. I was glad to get off.
PT: THE LEAST SAID ABOUT THATOKAY, WE WILL JUST CRUISE INTO A BREAK, THEN.
AL: Here we go! (holds up Oscar, audience claps and whistles) It lives on the kitchen bench at the moment, and if we are frying anything it gets splattered. Then you have to go to the Oscar website to find out how to clean your Oscar.
I was in NZ earlier this year doing pick-ups--because Hugo Weaving is acting in The Matrix as Agent Smith, and then he flies over to New Zealand and he is Elrond, and always going back and forth.
He arrived on his first day on the pick-ups and gave me this can. He said, 'This is a gift from the camera department on Matrix'. They had made up this can that had on the lid 'Oscar Shine'. It had quotes from stars, saying: "You can't beat it" - Meryl Streep. (laughter) Yeah, that's good.
I have taken it down to the local primary school and all the kids got to pass it around assembly, and that was probably the most exciting thing I have done with it. When they go, "Will you say something to these 180 small children," and suddenly--you know here you can get away with a certain amount--but there you have all those little faces looking up at you: "What's he going to say? What's he going to say?"
I think I said something like, 'You have dreams', you know, 'and one day they may come true'. Then they pass it around and everyone goes, 'It's heavier than I thought', but yes, so there it is. Got that out of the way.
PT: THE PLAN IS NOW TO RUN A SPOOL OF THE LORD OF THE RINGS, WHICH WILL LAST ABOUT 15-20 MINUTES. WE WILL KEEP THE SOUNDTRACK LOW.
AL: If it's the reel I am thinking of it is in the mines and will involve the conversation between Gandalf and Frodo, where Gandalf has to make a decision about which door to follow, because he hasn't been there for so long he can't remember. Then they go down and dimly seeBalan's tombcaves, Orcsyou see the light. (soundtrack under Andrew Lesnie's voice) This sequence is completely digitally graded, which means it was shot on 35mm, scanned into a digital file and then we were able to apply the type of grading tools that would normally not be available to us in a lab--but we were able to use tools that are readily available to most people in telecines.
What we did, and we were helped by the art direction to a considerable extent, we decided that Moria mines would be extremely desaturated. A lot of our look and development work was trying to decide how desaturated. It wasn't something we could apply to the entire sequence because some shots reacted differently to others, but it was almost like taking that old-fashioned technique where you had black-and-white photographs that were hand-tinted.
The general feel for Moria was having this cool, slightly blue-green feel in most of the mine, and Balan's Tomb, which had the benefit of conveniently placed sunlight piercing in through a hole in the wall and landing on the tomb itself--we made that have a slightly cool feel.
So it was slightly bluer than the mine. Eventually, which we won't see in this reel, the fellowship work their way to the stairway at Cassa Doom, which had a decidedly warmer, more lava effect.
Peter (Jackson) storyboarded the mines and then we went through and took those storyboards apart and modified them--trying to achieve the whole Moria mine sequence seemedit's the sort of thing that you would say that just in itself within this film is such a vast variety of landscapes that they cross, no-one had a clear idea initially how we were going to do this. It ended up becoming a combination of sets, some C.G. sets.
This conversation was literally filmed against a portable rock wall that we rolled around. Pretty much this entire dialogue was filmed against it, and sometimes we would throw in a stalactite or a stalagmite.
You end up on a studio floor--it's one of those things where you have to keep remembering the entire sequence because the actual reality of what you are frequently faced with is unlike anything.
This was part of the biggest set--this little stairwell, which is when they first arrive--this was the biggest set for this sequence. You see it later on when the war drums start.
Most of the walls here are digital, so those big clumps of thorn locked down on the ground and the stairs running up behind the Hobbits here are actually a forced perspective. You can't really see in that shot but all they are looking at here--this was on a blue screen stage, so this is all digital and I did have some involvement with the lighting of this virtual reality set.
We filmed that little bunch of dudes down there on a blue screen and this foreground column that we are tracking past was a build, so we did have a stage where we had the bases of four huge columns. This is a set where we and a second unit spent quite a considerable amount of time in, Balan's Tomb.
PT: IS THAT A SHAFT OF NATURAL LIGHT?
AL: The shaft is supposed to be natural sunlight. There is supposed to be a crack in the side of the mountain and the sunlight passes through the entire Dwaradolf chamber, and then hits the one window in Balan's Tomb and lands perfectly on the tomb.
I guess that only happens once every year and all I can say how fortunate we were to be there at that time. These shots I love; classic fantasy. I always remember, when Peter and I were choreographing these scenes and working out the coverage, sometimes he would end up on the other side of Gandalf--for this part of the sequence, playing Ian looking right to left--so sometimes I would jump in there before we set it in stone and say, 'With that shaft coming down behind him, it really is one of the great old men/fireside-type story-telling images."
Looking up this shaft--we built that. That is actually the studio roof up there; when you look up the shaft you see the studio roof. They built the actual well and we put a mirror at 45 degrees at the bottom of it, then I filmed into that mirror so that stuff didn't actually come crashing down on my head. But the actual well here is only three or four foot deep, so when the camera plunges into it, which it will shortly, it is actually sort of plunging into velvet, black velvet.
Some of those are miniatures, they have been shot by the famous American miniature DP, Alex Funke. You can see how much Peter likes to keep things moving! Almost everything now is handheld and in fact the design of this fight was more of a sound issue than a visual issue. The way we choreographed the Troll was as a pre-determined sequence; it was based on storyboard, then pre-visualised as a three-dimensional computer image.
Once we had worked out the choreography, once there was actually a program that showed where every single person was at any point in this fight, including the Troll, we went in and worked out the shots.
Peter did some of it by wearing virtual-reality glasses and standing on a stage-they could dial in whatever lens he wanted, so he was standing looking up at the Troll--all he could see was a wire-gridded version of the Troll performing its actions. That was recorded and this entire sequence played out as a bunch wire-gridded figures, then he would watch it.
Or we would decide we would shoot these as they were boarded. Then all that recorded wire-gridded imaging was sent to the editors and they cut it as a sequence.
Once they had cut it and Peter was happy with the edit, that was sent back to the set, and each shotwhen second unit came and filmed their fair share of the actual fighting stuff, all they had to do was get the actors. They would look at that shot as a wire-gridded shot and on-set all they had to do was get the actors to do what the wire-gridded figures did for the length of that shot. Then the operators would look at that shot and operate the shot roughly to the dimensions of that shot.
They would use the lens that was specified for that shot. So if it was a 16mm lens they would put a 16mm lens on the camera, and it would be hand held. That way it made the Troll part of the action, which meant we were now free to film the scene like he was really there.
So, sometimes we would end up hanging one of the Hobbits by his feet under a crane in order to get him to being suspended from the hand of the Troll. The other big bonus of this sequence is, when we are looking straight up at the ceiling, I got the digital guys to paint the roof in and cover up my light.
That's what great about these films: when you have everyone in sync in pre-production. Pretty much from this point on, main unit steps in again and takes over, although we did end up filming a fair percentage of the fight.
Telephoto lenses compress people and wide-angle lenses tend to create a distance between them. There's the shaft of daylight coming from the edge of the mountain and hitting the edge of Balan's tomb. These shots, these landscapes--except for the close-ups of the guys running against the columns--these are digital landscapes, which I find pretty amazing. We would stage the foreground of that shot with one column, and the cast running through. Then we would be back with the live-action stuff.
PT: THE EFFECT OF ALL THOSE ORCS COMING DOWN THE COLUMNS IS EXTRAORDINARY.
AL: Yes, it certainly is a real testament to Peter's imagination.
PT: CAN WE RUN UNTIL THE BALROG GETS GANDALF BECAUSE I JUST WANT TO SEE IT AGAIN?
AL: This was a particularly difficult sequence for everyone to wrap their heads around because the first thing you have to do--especially with effects sequences or ones you have difficulty working out what you want to do--it is good to storyboard them because it does help clarify the vision in your mind, to go through the process of drawing it out.
Even just stick figures, or a mini DVD camera, and just staging the action, then looking and seeing if it works.
This scene was a combination of miniatures--blue screens; but a lot of the tide of cast was shot live on a studio set with no visual effects.
This is the sequence where I said, 'When you just think it couldn't get any worse.' Those are actual digital figures, over the miniature. You can see the massive contribution I made to that show: digital figures running on a miniature! It seems a shame to talk through it after a while. It's a rewarding dramatic experience.
I've always found the end of the Moria mines where they run out on the rocks, very moving. There's dialogue about the fact that the cast were scanned in their wardrobe and they've been replicated very faithfully so you do have these completely digital characters, so the biggest daily involvement you have when you are looking--and I had to look at everybody's rushes, including miniature--was how Alex and I would be able to have a contribution.
We all had to keep talking to keep the continuity of the sequences going because the schedule was completely fractured at times and you would have some units filming some of the cast on some steps that were blue steps and were going to be 'comped-in' later.
Then there was another sets of steps, much lower to the ground, so if anyone fell off there was no injury--with mats all around. The walls of the stage were all rock; there were a lot of close-ups being done on that stuff.
It was the same old issue of, if there was an opportunity to not turn a shot into an effects shot, we took it. Then you start looking at the shots that do have digital characters and people say, "When you cut to that big wide shot of the figures running out on the rock, they're digital characters." Funnily enough they are not!
Then, I think, that's good. Maybe people are trying to see what techniques were involved in making that shot, but if they can't tell what is an effect shot and what shot isn't--well.
What is an effect in that shot is that the rock shot we filmed on did not have the cliff face and the door, so that was what was going to get composited in, not the figures. The figures we did.
That locationit's interesting because to me going from inside Moria mine to outside Moria mine is an example of the diversity of filmmaking that was involved on that project, which is the very last shot of Aragorn running up the stairs, and you look across the divide and there are Orcs in the distance firing arrows, which are whistling across.
So I looked at that shot and thought, okay, across the divide is a miniature, the foreground is the steps running up with the slab of rock in between, so we are starting up, then as Viggo runs past we crane down so now we are now looking up. The rest of it, in reality on the day, was a blue screen. So what you had was this foreground, the steps and rock, and Viggo--then there is blue screen.
So you look at the distant figures firing arrows, then the arrows whistling through and Viggo doing the odd duck and weave when something is coming through. I look at it and think, it's so seamless that I am just not questioning it. I know it is a lot of people's jobs to know this stuff, but in the end--and I find the best visual effects supervisor also understand this--you do not let the technology drive the story.
Any really top visual effects supervisor on the planet will say, if you give them an opportunity to fake something or do it for real, they will always turn around and say, 'Do it for real, do it for real'.
It's like, 'What are you stuffing around for? If you have an opportunity to pull this off for real, why are we mucking around?'
Real is, for them, always the best, even though they deal in pulling off reality, completely artificially, they still respect the other.
You have people saying, 'Oh, the digital figures running on the rock', but I am hoping they will say that after the first screening, because if they are saying that during the first screening, the first time they see the film, in my mind they are not watching the film.
To me I find the death of Gandalf is one of the most emotional moments i