You only appreciate how expensive movie making can be when you're in the middle of a situation like this. With the costs of all the people there, the Museum staff and security, the extras, the cast, the crew, the equipment hire, the hire of the venue, money is being spent at a prodigious rate. It's like the launch of a Saturn V rocket. Once the launch button is pressed, money is going up in smoke like rocket fuel, at hundreds of pounds a minute, and, at key moments, hundred of pounds a second. And then, after that launch decision, there's no going back.

The extras are martialled again and again. Hadi shouts 'Bang!' and they all run off like a stampede of cattle. They reassemble and pretend to mingle again, guests at some kind of posh party, under the shadow of Dippy. Then he shouts 'Bang!' again. And they run away again. And again. And again. He looks stern-faced. There's a lot on his mind. Meanwhile, I've got a benign big grin on my face which, he tells me later, is fixed for the entire evening. He seems to be disconcerted by my strange, transcendental happiness, so for most the rest of the night, I deliberately try to keep out of his way and grin somewhere else.

Francois Truffaut's La Nuit Americaine (Day for Night) has always been one of my favourite movies--it was even one of the films Mr H had to study when he was in my film studies class. And here I am now, lost and ecstatic in his version of it.

As I explain to him later, it was an exhilarating experience to be there in the middle of that hectic hive of activity. To be at the centre of a movie in full production, but not to have to deal with any of the stresses. To be an interested observer, but with no fear of personal failure. Not like 'my' scene in the pub.

A quarter of a century earlier I was teaching him this stuff out of The Movie Business Book. Now he was doing it for real. He's sat there on the bridge of his starship, in his swivel chair, looking intently at the monitors, the Captain of all he surveys. And then walking with a confident John Wayne glide to confer with assorted subordinates.

Everything under control. Everything running smoothly.
Everything according to plan--well, almost.

And everything does get done.
Everything goes right.

Even that guy falling from a great height into a big pile of cardboard boxes.

Eventually, as dawn breaks.

As I say to one of his executive producers, also out for the night and
enjoying the proceedings,

'The boy done good!'


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The photograph above was taken in the early hours during a break in the filming around Dippy. The shot below features director Hajaig as the little face high up on the balcony to the right of the central pillar. Itís well past 4 am and heís preparing to shoot the very last scene of the night, in which a stunt man playing the bag snatcher, takes a very long leap right smack into the floor--which in reality is covered in cardboard boxes to break his fall. Photo credits Sylvia Starshine.


Enjoying the Moment