Sunday, 31 March 2013

0 EPISODE 25

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        The Varley ending was painful to me, but no one else seemed to mind. However, I was zealous in attending to all details of completing the film, as if, should I relax my vigil, it might yet escape me. I was at the Board many evenings and early every morning. I didn't have to give my name to any of the commissioners at the front door, because they all knew me by sight.
        One morning I needed to check something with the negative cutter, Lois Dooh. She was originally from Peking, and lovely, the ex-wife of a former military attaché at the Chinese embassy.  I was impatient for the lab to open at its normal time of 9 a.m. By 9.15 it still hadn't opened and I was furious and frustrated, but noticed that there was no one else in the building. I wondered why everyone was late. And finally realized it was Sunday.
        And then the next day a very unusual thing happened. I was called in to the office of Gerry Graham, the Head of all technical services at the Board. I don't think I had ever before spoken to him.
        That film of yours, he said. Colour is important, isn't it?
        Of course I said. Especially in the paintings.
        We don't have any controls for colour Graham said. But Warner's have developed very fine ones. How would you like to finish your film at Warner Brothers?
        He told me that at a meeting of the Society of Motion Picture Engineers, to which the technical heads of all the studios belonged, Warner's man had said to him We owe you one for Royal Journey. If we can ever do anything for you, we'd be glad to.

        Despite, or perhaps because of, my battles with the authorities, I seemed to have the support of the technical people. This had already manifested itself in Grant McLean's reshooting of the miniatures (see Episode 13), in Clarke Daprato's help, in a 16mm colour print of The Longhouse People that I had acquired surreptitiously. It had a few mislighted scenes that were almost unnoticeable, and whoever examined such prints had declared it NG (no good), and instead of destroying it, as was required, had secretly slipped it to me.
        I don't know what Gerry said to the brass, but Gerry Graham's was a name to be reckoned with at the NFB, and I found myself with a flight to Los Angeles and a booking at the Roosevelt Hotel there.
        Clutching the cans of cut negative and sound, which I wouldn't let out of my hands, or later my sight, I boarded a plane at the Ottawa airport. It was January 1953, and icy cold, with snow on the ground. When I exited at the LA airport I was surprised at the rush of warm air and to see sunshine and dryness. And there was a message from Jack Cooper. He was a cousin of my mother's who worked in Hollywood. I had never met him but had written to say I was coming. The message from him said he regretted not being able to meet the flight, but that he and his wife would come to my hotel that evening.

        They did. His wife, Marie, a social worker, was attractive and charming, and Jack was a wiry, alert man of average height with a thin moustache. He was the publicity manager for the Stanley Kramer unit, one of the first Hollywood independents, then financed by and housed at Columbia Pictures.

        The Kramer unit was already famous for having introduced serious social issues. Among other movies, they had made The Men, with Marlon Brando in his first screen role; Death of a Salesman, with Frederick March; Member of the Wedding, with Julie Harris; High Noon, with Gary Cooper and Grace Kelly; The Juggler, with Kirk Douglas; and were working on The Caine Mutiny, with Humphrey Bogart. The Juggler had been shot in Israel. Jack had been there with the crew, and remembered with disgust having constantly to get women for an actor. That was my initial intimation of Hollywood life.
        Jack and Marie invited me for dinner at their home the next evening. Jack said they would have a fourth, and asked me whom I would like to meet. I said Marlon Brando.
        He replied Okay, I'll ask him.
        In the morning I delivered my cans of film to the lab at Warner's and reported to Jack Warner's office, where one of his assistants, who knew of my coming, gave me his card and said to let him know if I needed anything. Then I was free for the rest of the day, because at the lab they had said they would start on my stuff only the following morning.

        Jack had asked me, if I had time, to come to Columbia, so I phoned him and took a cab there. Jack met me and took me to his office. There I sat to the side while a succession of pretty, and sometimes beautiful, actresses came in, kissed him, sat in his lap, and said things like Jack, darling, you promised me a photo in... And when he took me on a quick tour of the studios, almost everyone we met was addressed as, or addressed us as, darling, love and so on. I thought it an unbelievably amiable place.
        That evening I arrived in the residential neighbourhood where Jack lived. The address was at what in Los Angeles was termed a Spanish-style ranch house: one-storey, of a conventional width in front, but stretching back. The door was opened by Marie, an agreeable sight. I could also see, in the large living room into which the entrance led, a gleaming, full-sized grand piano. The kitchen was an alcove off that main room, and I sat there and chatted with Marie while she made the salad. There was no sign of Jack; I assumed he had been held up at the office.
        The phone rang; it was Brando expressing his regrets because something had unexpectedly come up. But he seemed to be a familiar, because on the wall there were photographs of him with Jack, Marie and their daughter, who was then in New York.
        My talk with Marie touched on a recent magazine article, and she said Go and get that issue. It's in the library. The library was at the end of a long central hall, with rooms opening off both sides. Having picked up the magazine, I was struck by the sight of a lemon tree bearing fruit, which was just outside the window looking into the garden. Going back up the hall I noticed one door slightly ajar and glimpsed, to my astonishment, Jack in bed with the covers up to his chin. I stopped, doubled back, and said Jack! Are you alright?
        He answered Yes, go on. I'll be there in a while.
        We were partly through the meal before there was any mention of this puzzling thing. Then, after three glasses of wine, it was revealed that it was a daily occurrence: when he came from the office Jack had to have a glass of whiskey and spend an hour in bed before he could stomach his dinner. Surprised, I said Jack, don't you like your work?
        He leaned forward and through almost clenched teeth said I detest it!
        I said Then why do you do it?
        He answered For the money. Where else would I be paid as much?
        It further turned out that the reason for the piano was that Jack was the pianist in a group of people, all in the movie business, who met privately in each other's homes, often in Jack's, to play classical music.

Next: Movietown jinks

Sunday, 24 March 2013

0 EPISODE 24

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       Apart from the few pictures that were used in the Varley set, most of his drawings and paintings were shot at the Board by an animation camera. There was ordinarily a slow zoom in from full composition to a close up, or the reverse. Then Frederick Varley was brought to the Board to record his actual voice speaking his thoughts, as scripted. That was done in less than an hour. For the occasion of his visit I arranged a screening of his work on film for him. He sat there in wonder, entranced by the images on the big screen. Gosh, he said I wish I could paint like that. It was the light shining through.
       I had written the small amount of narration with a particular voice in mind, the slightly British-accented sound and inflection of Lister Sinclair, who was prominent within the CBC establishment and in its radio broadcasts. He consented to come to Ottawa for a few hours, and the recording took very little time. He read through his lines almost sight unseen; his understanding of what was intended was immediate and his emphasis perfect. For him it was just another job, quickly and easily dispatched, but he got it exactly right.
       For the title I went to Wookey, Bush and Winter, where I had begun work in 1942, as a seventeen-year-old just out of art college. I hoped something strikingly original would be done by their very talented letter man, Les Wookey. And in a sense it was, for he used as the film's title Varley's signature, over his charcoal thumb-print on a drawing, or the print pressed into wet oil paint. To keep the cost down I had Les use as a background a piece of wallpaper I happened to have.
       The editing took hardly any time, because I had pre-edited the shots in my mind, and I marked the cutting points for the assigned editor,Victor Jobin. To him I left some small decisions. Victor was a good editor and I didn't want him to feel that he was merely a cipher.
       At that time someone else at the Board had invited, as a narrator, Max Ferguson. Millions of radio listeners knew Max Ferguson's voice as Rawhide, and in many other interpretations.  Particularly in his occasional sly jabs at officialdom and government.  I got Max to come diagonally across the street from the Board to the scruffy corner store that sold groceries and had a few tables where one could drink tea from a paper cup. The store's entire existence depended on patronage by Film Board people. There, over tea, I tried to persuade Max to take seriously his role as gadfly, arguing that our governments and nation needed it. He understood, but declined.  He said he didn't have the resoluteness, or broadcasting latitude, to take on so weighty a responsibility. But in his way he did as much as the CBC could politically afford.
       The $14,000 budget of the Varley film, within which we had kept for the shooting, now began to creep up. But at the same time there was starting to be in the Board an awareness that something unusual was being done. No one, and not Tom Daly, mentioned the costs.
       When the film was assembled, with voices and sound effects, I spoke to Lou Applebaum about the music. Though I could barely carry a tune, I suggested, since the film was structured as a fugue, that the fugue be played by thirteen cellos, six playing the life motive and seven opposing them with the art theme. Applebaum didn't say I was nuts, but probably thought that. However, he came to Ottawa and the film was shown to him. He was electrified and at once very enthusiastic. He said he certainly wanted to write the score, and asked me what I intended with each scene, and my feelings about the paintings. While I talked he feverishly scribbled notes, and if I paused he said Keep talking! He was absorbing my entire conception of the film. He went back to his home in Toronto to do the composing, and then came again and played his melodies, musical sketches really, on the piano in the large recording theatre.
       I was standing at one end of the piano, and at the other was Clarke Daprato, himself a musician; for him too this was an event. The melodies were lovely; the score plainly indicated great promise. But when it came to the climax, Lou stopped and said This triumphant ending...don't you think it's a bit much? Maybe we should just tiptoe away from him.
       I was taken aback. Everything in the concept, the script, the shooting — even Denis's lighting — led to that ending. But Clarke, without hesitating, concurred with Lou. What had prompted Lou to that?  He was in every way admirable. He had written hundreds of scores for documentary films, had written theatre and concert music, and for Hollywood features.  At the height of his fame in Hollywood he had decided to come back to Canada.  Nor was he in any way insensitive.  He had shown again and again that he comprehended and could render musically the most delicate nuances.  But there was also another side to him.
      In addition to all his film, radio, television, theatre and concert work, and his skill as a conductor, he was already, in temperament, and would soon prove, a skilled administrator, a resourceful negotiator, and a modest, practical, judicious, fair, selfless man.  He went on to help develop, with Ken Kendall, the Composetron, which was the forerunner of synthesizers, and to help initiate the Stratford Festival, of which he was its first Music Director. Then he became the Chairman of CAPAC, the composers' association, then Vice-President of the Canadian League of Composers, then President of SOCAN, the Society of Composers, Authors and Music Publishers of Canada, and then the Executive Director of the Ontario Arts Council, and co-Chairman, with Jacques Hbert, of the Applebaum-Hbert Royal Commission on the Arts. He was an important influence on the founding of the Canada Council, and worked with it a good deal. Moreover, he was to receive virtually every kind of award and honour that could be conferred, in recognition of his accomplishments and of always trying to do the right thing.  Perhaps it was in that even-handed, public-minded spirit that he thought my triumphant ending might be a bit much.
       I was inwardly protesting, but was aware that I had a tendency to embrace extravagant ideas, and that this was only my third film. I was in my middle twenties; Lou and Clarke were older and vastly more experienced. And I was flattered by their attention. They stared me down until, giving way, I yielded.
       The score was recorded in Toronto with a large orchestra, made up of members of the Toronto Symphony. They were the best at-first-sight music readers in the world, Lou said. He conducted, while I sat to one side, watched and listened. The music was beautiful. I think it was one of the finest compositions Lou had written. But I was troubled about the ending. It was the reverse of what I had intended.
       Shortly afterwards I told Lou it had been a mistake, a terrible mistake. It was, indeed, the first serious artistic mistake I had ever made.
       Lou didn't mock me; he had enough respect for my integrity. He said Well, without charge I'll rewrite the music and conduct the orchestra. But I can't supply the orchestra. The cost of that assembly of players, and the recording, was sky high. That it had been permitted me once was remarkable. Twice was entirely out of the question.
       The ending, in my mind and feelings, was a blot. A blot that has always remained.

Next: Hollywood



Sunday, 17 March 2013

0 EPISODE 23

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       The involvement of the National Gallery in financing, modest as it was, suddenly made my film somewhat special within the Board; at any rate, it could no longer be dismissed out of hand. I secured the assignment of Denis Gillson and the use of the colour negative I wanted. It was the early summer of 1952; I would soon turn twenty-seven.
       The next stage was making arrangements, or, as it's called in film lingo, Prep (for preparation). Permission for the paintings I wished to include had to be obtained from their owners. These were invariably galleries, institutions or rich persons. One was the former Governor General, the Right Honourable Vincent Massey. I visited him at his estate near Port Hope. Though he extended every formal courtesy, sending a car to meet me at the train, and inviting me to lunch with his family, his interview of me was brief and the lunch skimpy, consisting of little more than scrambled eggs. On his part it seemed like noblesse oblige, rather than interest.  But of course the general influence of Vincent Massey and the Massey family on the arts in Canada had been vast and lasting.
       However, the finest privately-owned collection of Varleys hung in the home of Charles Band. He was a wealthy business man; his house and grounds took up the whole front of a small block in Rosedale. And Band was one of the few people who had consistently recognized Varley. They had a kind of fraternal relationship. Every year, on Varley's birthday, Band would bring him a bottle of scotch whiskey, and they would have a ceremonial drink together. Followed, no doubt, after Band left, by Varley soon finishing the bottle.
       There was one painting, called Sea Music, which Band cherished. He told me that Varley had wanted $1,000 for it. Band took it home and sent Varley a cheque for $600. Varley was outraged, phoned Band, called him some extremely unpleasant names, and demanded the painting back. It was returned, and shortly thereafter a woman from Montreal, who had once been a pupil of Varley's, visited him with her husband, hoping to acquire something. She saw Sea Music, liked it, and her husband at once asked the price. Then he promptly wrote a cheque and they took the painting away with them.
       Band was totally disconcerted — he had considered the painting his. When I was with him he asked about the Montreal owners, whether I had seen them. I said I had, and that the painting would be prominent in the film. Band said Do you think they would part with it? How much do you think they would take for it? I replied, diplomatically, that they seemed to be quite well off. I don't know if Band ever approached them, but the painting remained theirs.
       Denis Gillson, in his outwardly unemotional way, showed curiosity about the film, which was to be shot in Toronto. I didn't know it then, but when he had earlier shot a film there to do with the Opera School, he had been very taken with one of the student-singers, Malca Laskin. She was the niece of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, Bora Laskin. Being in Toronto would give Denis a chance to see her again. Not long afterwards, they were married.
       Varley's studio, one longish room, at the back of the second floor of a three-storey rooming house on Grenville Street, was also his home. He slept there, on a single cot, and, after a fashion, cooked and ate his meals. Though he still strenuously denied it, at his age he was becoming a bit dependent. He had formed an alliance with an attractive, sturdy, no-nonsense nurse who lived in the next room. The location was within easy walking distance of several hospitals, so it was ideal for her. She darned Varley's clothes and often had him to her table, and her bed.
       Varley's room was too small to work in, so a space was rented at the Lakeshore Studios, and I got Arthur Price to build a set. Arthur stripped Varley's actual studio of everything that could be taken out, including a large radiator cover, and created a reproduction, with movable walls. It looked so alike that once, when we broke for lunch, I told Mr. Varley that it was cold and raining and that he should take an outer covering. He said I'll just get my raincoat, and before anyone could stop him he ripped the real closet door off the set wall.
       Our location manager, George B, was fairly new to film work. But he was earnest and devoted. I can't remember ever finding fault with him. He helped with everything, and wanted only to know what more he could do.
       The script called for early October, but with the delay in getting the money it was actually late November by the time we began shooting. The film opens in the country with Varley running to catch a ride from a passing small construction truck. (The truck was borrowed gratis and driven by my engineer friend, Irwin Burns, who took time from his mega-projects.) There is continual motion until Varley reaches his low wrought-iron gate on Grenville Street. Suddenly he is stopped by the sight of a colourful leaf, which he picks up. (There were no dry leaves on the streets at that time; we had to bring in and scatter a bushel of them.) As Varley is tenderly examining the coloured leaf he is distracted by the approaching sound of a woman's footsteps. The woman is comely, and for a moment there is an eye-to-eye exchange, meant to be with deep understanding between them: Varley responding to a fundamental female, and she revelling in the pure attention.
       The casting of the woman was left to George, added to his list of practical items to get. For all of it he had about three hours. Luckily he found a woman who looked the part; she was having a drink at Maloney's Bar, farther west on Grenville Street. After George bought her another drink or two, she agreed to play the part. With only a few minutes of explanation she understood the movement in the scene, but couldn't grasp the idea. Perhaps it was beyond her experience; she wasn't the most spiritual of creatures. To her it seemed simply that an old man, and probably a dirty old man, was trying to pick her up, and she reacted accordingly. As she goes by, Varley, disappointed, turns away, drops the leaf and slams the gate behind him.
       The scene worked mechanically, but failed subliminally. It was not the ideal, charged with feeling, interchange that I had envisioned. But we had no time to do more, or shoot it again. The daylight was fading, and the woman was anxious to get away. Such was our state with a shoestring budget.
       Generally, we couldn't afford many second takes and had to make do with whatever or whomever we could get for no, or nominal, cost.
       My script called for a triumphant ending, with the sun breaking through the window, climaxing the fugue as art wins the struggle over life. For that we rented two arc lamps (we should have had, but didn't have the money for, at least half a dozen) and with them Denis actually managed, to a noticeable degree, to effect a change at the critical moment.
       Everyone did their best, and we finished on schedule in just a few days. There was no sound; voice-over, effects and music were to be added later.

Next: Beautiful music, and disaster.

Sunday, 10 March 2013

1 EPISODE 22

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       Tom Daly was as good as his word. He turned me loose to explore a film about Varley. And placed no restriction on time or expenses. He knew it would involve trips to Toronto to see Varley and indicated that this initial period wouldn't be included in the budget of the film. I suppose there was a general fund he could draw from, because everything had to be charged somewhere, even my salary. With incremental increases it now amounted to about $1,500 a year. But I believe I was still the lowest-paid director at the Board, a status I would maintain for a long time.
       Frederick Varley was then seventy-two years old. His best work and his fame appeared to be far behind him. He was a legend, true, but very few people currently cared much about that. He was poor, in want, and outwardly, at least, seemed resigned to obscurity. However he retained the honesty that was manifest in his paintings.
       He was a bit intrigued by the notion of a film in which he'd be prominent, but he wasn't won by flattery. My idealized image of him, which went back to the encounter at the McCrow's (see Episode 1), led me to write a script that showed him as a hero and a wise man. He rejected it outright. That's not me he said.
       Varley wasn't at all impolite or discouraging; he just wanted something better. His disapproval of my script obliged me to come closer to actuality, but in another sense it only spurred me to even greater flights of fancy. This time, though the surface facts were right, I wrote all the narration in verse. Varley read it carefully, and when I saw him again, said It's lovely. I appreciate what you've accomplished, but, really, it's not me.
       Rebuffed again, I thought deeply about what I had done and what I must do. The elusive idea, I felt, must lie in his paintings. I studied all I could find, in reproduction and in the framed canvases that hung in the National Gallery. Remembering my aborted approach to the Lismer film, I toyed with that, and after much mind knotting, suddenly had a new vision. I decided I would make a film not about Varley's work, but rather a sort of portrait of the artist. It would be a psychological study of him and about him as a man, as seen through his work. And brushing aside propriety, it would include reference to his drinking and his lifelong enthrallment with women.
       When he read that, Varley looked at me, swallowed, and said Yes, that's me.
       The script was based on a fugue, a conflict between life and work. And my high hopes now extended to getting Denis Gillson to shoot it, and to the finest colour film available.
       That was Ektachrome, a 35mm negative that had been introduced by Kodak with almost no advance data. Its release had coincided with a trip across Canada by the then Princess Elizabeth, and her husband, Prince Philip. The tour had to be covered by the NFB, but there was serious uncertainty about whether to try the new negative. (Previous colour had been by a 16mm reversal process, in which The Longhouse People had been shot.) The Board took a chance, using the new 35mm negative for the first time anywhere, and the results were spectacularly beautiful.
       Most of the Hollywood studios, long wedded to Technicolor, were slow to adopt it, but soon after the NFB film, named Royal Journey, appeared, Warner Brothers began using the now-proven stock, calling it Warnercolor.
       Because colour would be critical in Varley's paintings, I determined that the film about him had to be shot on this 35mm negative.  Indeed, on the title page of the script I wrote 'A film in 35mm colour.'
       But Tom Daly, after reading the script and acknowledging that it was quite good, said it was doubtful if money could be had for such a film. That was something of a shock, considering how generous he had been in allowing me to prepare for it. Further, it turned out that the Board didn't want a film about Varley. There was lots of money for all kinds of films — budgets of up to $80,000 and more were not unknown, and $30,000 was being given to one fellow to go to Sweden to study their type of design. But about Varley, as I was calling my would-be film, Tom dubiously shook his head.
       As it became evident that I was the only one who wanted the film, I realized that the one way it might be permitted was if I could devise a small-enough budget. I worked assiduously at that, shaving away everything that was not absolutely essential. The crew, as I envisioned it, would be only five people: Denis Gillson, two assistants for both camera, lighting and everything else, a location do-everything manager, and myself. By paring and paring, I got the budget down to a rock bottom $14,000. That included not only the filmic requirements, but also the costs I could do nothing about — getting permissions from the owners of the paintings and for the insurance they would want if we were to borrow the pictures. I could see no way of reducing the budget another cent. Tom said he would take it up with the powers that be.
       He came back and said the most that could be spared for Varley was $12,000. I cried I can't make the film for that!
       And Tom answered coolly Then you can't make it.
       That was devastating. With all my hopes and dreams dashed, I wanted, as it were, to crawl into a hole, and took my misery to the National Gallery, to look again at what might have been.
       I was moping among the Varleys when along came the Director of the National Gallery, H.O. McCurry. He had seen me there before, but hadn't spoken to me, and I had never been introduced to him. But this time he stopped, and said How are you doing?
       I said Not very well. I can't make the film. They won't give me the money.
       He must have been well briefed, because he knew at once what I was talking about. His brow creased, and then he said Well, come to my office, and tell me about it.
       There I explained the whole situation. Mr. McCurry listened without interrupting, then leaned back in his chair and began to reminisce about Varley. The painter had lived in Ottawa for a time, and McCurry told me how unreliable he had been, what a rascal, and how he had bilked wealthy patrons. All his stories were amusingly disparaging of Varley.
       Then he was silent for a while. I was pleased to be in McCurry's august presence, but unhappy and uncomfortable in the circumstances. Then suddenly he said Maybe we can make up the difference.
       It was unprecedented! Government departments had paid the Film Board for films made on their behalf, but never before had a government agency freely offered money to another. The Film Board must have been too embarrassed to refuse, because they accepted $2,000 from the National Gallery. And I got my $14,000.

Next: Shooting the film.

Sunday, 3 March 2013

0 EPISODE 21

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      Back, now, to the National Film Board. Once again, I brought up with Tom Daly the idea of a film about Varley. He said I told you, we have no plans for a film about him. But for our artist series we do need a film about Lismer. And I want you to do it. I started to protest, but he said, not unkindly, Make the Lismer film, and then we'll see about Varley...
      Like Varley, whom he had persuaded to emigrate to Canada, Arthur Lismer had originally come from Yorkshire, England, had studied there and in Belgium, had worked in Toronto as an illustrator, and had been a charter member of the Group of Seven. But unlike Varley, he was a man of the world, educated, widely travelled, tall, handsome, extremely charming and witty. And his reputation as an art educator was unmatched. He had been President of the Victoria School of Art and Design (later renamed Nova Scotia College of Art and Design), had taught at the Ontario College of Art, where he was also Vice-Principal (now called Ontario College of Art and Design University — OCAD U), and had started at the Art Gallery of Ontario, where he was in charge of all art education, the Saturday morning children's art classes.
      I had attended them, but before me, because he was older, so had Sydney Newman. In my time Sydney Newman was an Executive Producer at the National Film Board, though later he moved to England, where he became Head of Drama at the BBC. He told me that a vivid moment he experienced as a youngster and has never forgotten, was when Lismer, who had just returned from South Africa, plunged into the hardwood floor of the Art Gallery a long Zulu spear, where it quivered in front of the silent, astonished class. That was the children's evocative introduction to the art of Africa.
      Lismer was still as imaginative and exciting. He was then high in the elite of the Montreal Museum of Art, and in charge of its teaching programs for both children and adults. And also, unlike Varley, he had received a great deal of public attention. Much had been written about him, and he was frequently cited and lauded at every relevant event. Moreover, he welcomed the idea of a film that would show his work and current activities.
      When I was with him, I was so much taken with and entertained by Lismer, laughing at his merry stories and witticisms, and listening to some of his chastening adventures, that my reservations about this assignment melted away. I began hugely enjoying it. Lismer was in Montreal, and there was no restriction on my going back and forth between Ottawa and that city, or staying overnight there. Those expenses were taken for granted, and without question were incorporated into the film's budget.
      On a more personal note, it was also about that time that I decided I was physically too heavy. There was no reason for the weight; it had simply crept up over years of paying no attention to exercise or to what and how much I ate. Now conscious of that, I fairly easily (which must seem arrogant to many overweight people, but, apologetically, it was so) shed ten or more pounds, reducing to the trim figure maintained ever since.
      Researching Lismer's history was easy too. There were so many biographies and accounts of him that it was not difficult to put together, mentally, an outline of the film. But when I looked at his paintings in the National Gallery I saw something that had nowhere been mentioned. There was a dark side to his work, an anguished tortured element that came through even in outwardly usual — roughly, in the Group of Seven style — depictions of nature. I brought this up with Lismer, and he was delighted. He said that had always been part of his approach to painting, though it had never been noticed before, certainly not publicly. Encouraged, I wrote a script that delved psychologically into his work, balancing the artist people thought they knew with what he had really been expressing in his paintings. I showed it to Lismer, and he was perfectly in agreement.
      Then I gave it to Tom Daly. He virtually threw it back at me. This isn't Lismer! he said. Everyone knows Lismer! Now write something sensible!
      Abashed, I went back to Lismer. They won't let me use the script I said. They want the conventional Lismer.  That wise man, having dealt so much with organizations, and with bureaucracies, knew better than I what they meant.
      He sighed, a sigh of experience and age, and said Allan, don't fight them. It's not worth it. Give them what they want.
      So I made the kind of standard documentary the Board expected. Everyone seemed pleased with it. I have always been ashamed of it.

NEXT:  At last!