Friday, 24 July 2009

George McBride Remembers Space Zeppelin

From the memories of the late George McBride, edited slightly from what was given in interview:

Space Zeppelin was a wonderful experience, starring actors you probably have never heard of. George Muffin Taylor, Brian Tellidude McNut and little Anne Wainthorpe. Made in the early sixties, it was my first non-exploitation film. It was my first time with a real effects budget. Alas it was not my first time with good actors but at least they were professional and sober.

What makes a good actor. I'll tell you. Focus on the lines. Don't inflect, don't whine, don't shake your arms and any other noteworthy body parts. Be serious. Be courageous in trusting that the writer knows what he is doing. For the first time my actors did that. And that's all you can ask as a director.

You know the plot of course. Zeppelin's appear from space, float into atmosphere and amass all over the world. Then the world begins to get paranoid, madness spreads, mothers killing sons, daughters killing fathers, children killing clowns, while the Zeppelin's do nothing. Of course in the second half the massive robots attack. Kinda like Daleks but we got out three months earlier. Too bad about our publicity budget, as we called them in those days, didn't stretch very far.

You know the writer objected to the robot attack. Said it would be scarier if the Zeppelins remained, were never explained, as they didn't quite make sense, thus would be creepy. What rot! People can imagine space zeppelins and that's all you need as the base for a man versus robot movie. Our way of getting rid of the robots was wonderful. There was rain and they all rusted. That was a wonderful touch by the writer, although he said it was sarcasm. Their winding down I think was wonderfully haunting, as they yell die, unable to move, as their Zeppelins wind down and crash into the cities below. It was one of my best reviewed films, is quite the cult oddity now.

Black and white is a wonderful visual too for a director, especially with models. Nowadays its all colour this and bulging that but in the good old days of acting and craft, black and white could save you a bob or two and give you the reputation as a craftsman.

That's all I have to say about the film Space Zeppelin. It literally speaks for itself.

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