Friday, 12 September 2008

Goodbye Polaroid

I have been clearing out stuff, trying to make two bedrooms and an office into three bedrooms and an office. So far, thanks to wireless networking, I think it can be done. It's a matter of vertical integration. If you're an interior design magazine editor, I'll show you how.

Meantime, I found these photos which I have put on eBay and if you want a vintage Lewis Leathers jacket, check out my other stuff there (I'm sad to sell it but I'm no longer and will never be as slim as I was when I bought it).

These are four original continuity Polaroid ® photographs of pre-fame actress Teri Hatcher taken by me on the set of the unseen TV movie 'The Brotherhood' which also starred Anthony LaPaglia.

Lots of life story here. This movie was my first big break, getting hired as a department head by the Academy Award ® winning producer Ron Schwary. We shot this film in New York and Los Angeles. The director Bob Butler had directed the pilot of 'Star Trek'. My assistant is now a big shot production designer. The producers treated us very well. It was great to be working with some top professionals instead of the scumbags I had known on poverty row and I learned a lot from them.

In these two scenes early in the film, the story introduces Teri's character Teresa Gennaro, sister to both a mob boss and policeman who aims to smash the Mafia. The purpose of taking photos was to match the props, clothing boxes and the coat and bags etc., from the exterior scene 11 to the following interior scene 12, probably shot weeks apart. I love the little background things, the grip leaning on a reflector. The car for another scene parked in the b.g.

It was a great pity then that the film never aired until recut later because when CBS saw it, they canned it for being too violent. Hmm, we did get a bit carried away with all the guns and the blood in the final scene.

These 'continuity' images are usually returned to the production company and in most instances get thrown away soon afterwards so I wonder how many there are out there from this production or any producution? Probably none. I didn't keep them for sentimental reasons. More likely they fell down behind something in my prop cart and didn't make it with all the other stuff I used to have to turn in during the wrap.

Polaroid ® is, or I should say was, an instant image medium. There are no negatives. These photos are original, one-of-a-kind artefacts relating to one of the world's most popular actresses, after shooting to worldwide fame in the TV series 'Desperate Housewives'. This production however is not widely mentioned in her resume. Apart from these and the movie negative in a vault somewhere, there is hardly any evidence this production ever happened.

With the advent of digital photography and the announcement of the cessation of production of Polaroid ® Spectra and SX-70 film, Hollywood film and TV production will no longer use it for recording the 'continuity' of wardrobe, props and set dressing so production 'roids as a collectible, if there is such a thing, from now on will be a dwindling supply.

It's only now I'd like to keep them for sentimental reason but if I did that, I'd need ten more rooms for all the crap I would want to keep. I've enjoyed looking at them today and sharing them, now someone else can have them and I can hopefully buy a few more tins of custom paint for my daughter's bedroom. Did you know it's £12 a litre? Yikes! And get some curtains.

Is there a market for this kind of collectible? I hope so. There are few others from films in collectible shops. At least with my offer you get the provenance from the source. I'd be cautious of any continuity polaroids from a production shot after the arrival of eBay. Crew people could have been shooting a few extras every time as some kind of pension plan. But no more it seems.

I'm not sure digital technology can replace the ring of 'roids for keeping track of what stuff went where. It took Polaroid Corp about ten years to figure out movies and the insurance industry wanted to be able to write on the face of them with something other than a Sharpie. When I wrote to them (after seeing an early SX-70 a friend who edited a photo magazine got hold of) with that suggestion and a load of others, Polaroid sent me a lenghty form in dense legalese signing my rights away to any kind of royalty so I didn't bother pursuing it. What do wardrobe, script supers, props and set decorators do now? Carry a colour printer around? It doesn't seem like progress when instant film was the perfect solution. So long Polaroid. One of the great brands of all time has passed on.

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