FIELD DAY - 1963 – DBeta transfer from 16mm B&W – 12:02
1963 I proposed and Douglas Leiterman commissioned for Document, the once-a-month one-hour spe-cial, which was a part of This Hour Has Seven Days, a film on the peace movement. The intense lobbying to ban the bomb led by Bertrand Russell was at its peak. Marches to Trafalgar Square in London, in New York, and across the States, were de riguer and thronged. ‘Ban the Bomb!’ ‘Hell, no, we won’t Go!’ were two of the three passionate rallying crews of the old and young in spirit of the last half century. Richard Leiterman, my first ‘Associate’ in Allan King Associates, caught two of them: The Peacemakers with me and the march on the Pentagon in the remarkable Will the Real Norman Mailer Please Stand Up? for Richard Fontaine as part of our Creative Persons co-production series for BBC, CBC, PBS and Bayerische Rund-funk.
After filming demonstrations and marches in London, and a fascinating interview with the outstand-ingly cogent pacifist and head of the Scottish Church, Donald Soper, we headed for Wales with John Freeman, then editor of The New Statesman, later ambassador first to India and then the Nixon administra-tion. Freeman’s BBC interview show, Face to Face, set a standard for interviewing that I have never seen matched. Our destination was the home of my then philosophical idol, Bertrand Russell. Freeman did a splendid interview but we didn’t ask Earl Russell about his take on the bomb immediately following the end of World War II. In essence it was ‘drop the bomb on Moscow and drop it now.’ He felt that if both the Soviets and the Americans had the bomb they would inevitably go to war and blow up the world. Fortunately his advice was neither heeded nor remembered.
After covering a march across upstate Pennsylvania, filming interviews in Washington and New York we ended up at the Living Theatre and saw their stunning production of Edward Brown’s harrowing play The Brig produced by the legendary Julian Beck and Judith Malina.
“From 1959 to 1963, in a space that John Cage and Merce Cunningham helped to find, the Living Theatre became the center of New York's cultural avant-garde and the goad of its social conscience. This was not without consequences. Their production of "The Brig," Kenneth Brown's searing look at human debasement in a Marine prison, led to calls for military reform. And may have provoked the government: The IRS moved in, demanding back taxes and eventually seized their theatre. After protests to save it failed, Beck and Malina locked themselves in the stage prison where they stayed until they were physically removed and taken to real jail.” *
I asked Julian’s permission to film the Field Day scene; he gave it. We watched one run through of the scene. Richard then hoisted an Auricon with a 1200’ magazine load of film to his shoul-der. We shot three takes: one wide, one medium and one close. I think it is one of the most exciting bits of film we’ve done. It served as a model for the style, later, which we used for Red Emma. I will write there about why I think hand-held work is so appropriate for filming theatre.