The Making of "Dance Craze" by Joe Dunton
Filmed on SUPER 35 by JDC LTD for 70mm by Technicolor Optical Department
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Joe Dunton interviewed 26.03.2011 by Thomas Hauerslev, during Bradford
Film Festival. Transcribed for
in70mm.com by Margaret Veedon
movie advert. Editor's collection
TH: We are with Joe Dunton here talking about
"Dance Craze" – can you give
us some information about "Dance Craze" please?
JD: "Dance Craze" was an idea from the director’s son
who was at school – he had seen the bands at that time at college and he
had said to his Dad,
“You have got to make a film of these bands”.
had directed the picture “The Song Remains the Same” with Led Zeplin. I had met him when he used to come into
Samuelsons when he was
making “The Song remains the Same” and we used to chat. I was basically
an engineer and camera person.
Five years later he rang me - by then I had my own camera department and
I had been working on Super 35 to blow up 70mm: he said he wanted to
make this film because of his son. Super16 was to blow up to 35mm. I
wanted Super 35 to blow up to 70mm format so you could shoot 1,66 format
in Super 16; 1,66 in 35mm; 1,66 in super 35 on the premise we would just get
a big negative area and not too much magnification to 70mm. I grew up in
the sound department and wanted the magnetic sound which was on the 70mm
and not on the optical at that time.
During 1978 we had become owners of Steadicams, and I had actually
learned how to use it and was able to show everybody else. I probably
taught about 50 people in England how to use it; by then we had about
|More in 70mm reading:
Speech for Joe Dunton
Joe Dunton Q/A
New York Times review
HMV store front
Muisc in "Dance Craze":
"Nite Klub" – The
"The Prince" – Madness
"Ne-Ne-Na-Na-Na-Na-Nu-Nu" – Bad Manners
"007 (Shanty Town)" – The Bodysnatchers
"Three Minute Hero" – The Selecter
"Ranking Full Stop" – The Beat
"Big Shot" – The Beat
"Concrete Jungle" – The Specials
"Swan Lake" – Madness
"Razor Blade Alley" – Madness
"Missing Words" – The Selecter
"Let's Do the Rock Steady" – The Bodysnatchers
"Lip Up Fatty" – Bad Manners
"Madness" – Madness
"Too Much Too Young" – The Specials
"On My Radio" – The Selecter
"Easy Life" – The Bodysnatchers
"Rough Rider" – The Beat
"Man at C&A" – The Specials
"Inner London Violence" – Bad Manners
"Night Boat to Cairo" – Madness
"Twist and Crawl" – The Beat
"Wooly Bully" – Bad Manners
"Too Much Pressure" – The Selecter
"Mirror in the Bathroom" – The Beat
"One Step Beyond" – Madness
"Nite Klub" – The Specials
Dunton talking about the film; "Dance Craze". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
I then had the idea to make a film that was not “a third row film”, -
not shot from the audience, from the third row; everyone shot concert
films from the third row, and it does not mean anything, and because the
bands were young bands I ended up being on stage with them and our first
band – I think it was called “The Specials” or “Selecter” – I asked if I
could come on stage and make the film; they had not made a film before
so they were not really anti-me at all. I said if they did not like the
film we need not use it; thus we did not draw up contracts – we just
took a chance.
After the first concert, we hired a cinema in Brighton (or Southampton)
with no sound – and the band saw the film – and they sang along with the
film because they knew the words – so we had sound as they sang along
with it. They told their mates in the other bands of this whole 2 tone
group and what we were doing. I got permission from all of them in the
The interview was an important one in that it added a very valuable
first hand account which bore witness to
the superiority of 70mm as opposed to digital HD, which is only really
glorified TV after all.
The insights into colour ("Cleopatra" gold) and resolution were
All the best,
Dunton on-screen film credit from "Dance Craze". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
Unfortunately, with Joe, he was a lovely man, but was American and when
you come from Camden Town – our Cockney London - to have an American to
deal with it was very difficult. So I was the communicator - basically
because my camera was being directed by me – not someone telling me what
to do. I was just feeling the way.
TH: it was a first person experience.
JD: Yes – the other part of this puzzle was that I felt we were recoding
a period of time really well – because we record on 24 track magnetic –
most people just put in a Nagra recorder and record the sound in a club;
and a club sound is a club sound, but this was properly recorded by some
Abbey Road mobiles and a Rolling Stones mobile so we had ace quality
recordings of sound live 24 microphones out on a little tiny stage of
famous names among the camera operators in the film. Image by Thomas
I made the format of film out of Super 35 which was a 1,66 format - full
aperture format – I did not know at the time, but I found out
afterwards, it was Superscope - or a poor man’s Vista Vision according
to Disney! I had made this now Super 35 because it was meant to blow up
to 70mm. I had found a lovely man – Don Toms, with Technicolor - who
did the blow up for me; he did the direct negative to print - 70mm
direct negative to print - so you had no quality loss; you had direct
blow up to print, six tracks of sound; an optical blow up to print.
If you look at the credits, the crew were mainly from my camera hire
shop; there were a few of my cameraman friends as operators, but the
crew who operated the cameras were from my shop. We used to go in the
evenings and make the film; with perseverance, and the idea that
everybody was really behind us; it was a time in life that we will never
see again. (It would be nice to know who owns the film)
credited in the film. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
We finished the film. I ended up with a contract that offered me 10% of
the movie and then – as in those days - I got a telex from Chrysalis
Records to say it was 1%. I told them they had left the “0” off: no, no,
they said we have done a new deal – I still never got my wages then. But
I had 30 people on the payroll editing the film so they really pushed me
into saying let’s get on and finish the film. I still have not got my
1per cent! - it should be mounting up over 20 years! – (it would be good
if you could put the word out!) – the director had a 10% too and he has
now passed away, although his daughter could do with the money; there
must be revenue from it.
What happened to the film? We premiered it in the Astoria Tottenham
Court Road, Big 70mm theatre – with a few press people – I made the
press see it in 70mm; it ran for two weeks in a West End theatre, which
I think was good. We made 28 Dolby prints – Dolby was just out.
Lawrence and Joe Dunton talking about the film; "Dance Craze". Image by
Why I went magnetic? – because Dolby had really only just started and
magnetic was the best audio quality at that time – it still is – the
analogue audio is still my favourite. It would be interesting to see how
the sound holds up here in Bradford.
The releasing company went broke, but the Rank Organisation was showing
the film around England – (we had 28 prints made) – and then they pulled
it; mainly because we had a sequence in the film that theoretically the
projector breaks down and we put a newsreel film on (which I had to do
because you could not sustain 90 minutes of music unless you are on dope
TH: that would be too much!
JD: so I broke it up with an old newsreel – the newsreel shows an old
coffee shop called the Macabre Coffee Bar, which I used to go to; so it
is a bit of history for me, and it was about the early "Dance Craze". So it
was nice; it gives you the break needed, and then you go back into the
music again. It is all on Steadicam - 90% of it on Steadicam. We used
long lenses such as 300mm and 600mm from the auditorium. A wide shot of
the stage would have shown me with the Steadicam – so to get round that
I was on the stage with a big wide lens, they would do other shots and
in the film; "Dance Craze". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
My daughter has now made a film on 600mm – 80% of the movie shot on a
600mm lens; it is anamorphic – always anamorphic.
I realised that with 1,66 I could not shoot Westerns – it had to be
CinemaScope. I started researching CinemaScope, and I realised that
CinemaScope was quite good – when the lenses are good, it is very nice.
Panavision: I was working at that time with Panavision they were going
through this big, big time of movies with fog filters and black nets on
them, and they looked ghastly focus-wise – they did not look nice, not
crisp; you can make a picture that is not crisp but is still
aesthetically pleasing to the eye rather than an out of focus picture.
There is a bridge in there.
Anamorphic: I started specialising in anamorphic – as you can blow
anamorphic up to 70mm. My love for 70mm came originally from “Oliver”
the musical; I worked on that for six months – (from being a black and
white television engineer to working on this big musical?!). I gave up
television because you could not compete. There was no competition at
that time between black and white TV 405 lines and this wonderful world
of CinemaScope or Panavision anamorphic.
picture quality of the film; "Dance Craze". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
And that is what set me up on the road to pictures - of loving big
pictures and forever now I have been selling people Big Pictures – even
if it is a film student, if he makes a very short film in anamorphic
everyone starts to respect him. He understands what he is making. So my
criterion was - if someone asks me for a camera, I ask “What do you want
to do with it?” – “Do you want to show it in a cinema, or on a DVD show
grill?” Once they have been hooked into a cinema, they will always want
I ask who has got the money to blow it up to 35mm to show in a cinema.
Then I would sell them an idea about 35mm with all short ends; then I
would sell them the idea of going anamorphic 35mm. So, they came to me
for Super 16 and went out with CinemaScope, but they loved it – they
never forget it. Once you have seen a big picture – even if it is “This
is Cinerama”, you always remember those shots in your brain - the
helicopter shot in “Sound of Music”; some of the scenes from “Oliver”.
My belief is that good 70mm has so much information in the picture that
your brain thinks you were there. That concept is not sold today.
Dunton looking at the screen. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
Television: HD is HD but it is more than HD - with TV it is difficult to
produce good colour; it is about the quality range of colours that you
see. In TV it is difficult to do a gold colour because there is no
yellow in the system – it is red, green and blue mixed; so you would
find it difficult to make gold if you were doing "Cleopatra" where
everything is gold. You would find it difficult in HD to show the
beautiful texture of gold.
I do not know if that means anything – for me it means that this was, at
that time, the best way to get the maximum technical quality from a
piece of 35mm. I think if we were to really push anamorphic blown up, or
anamorphic negative, I think there is some 11k of information in an
anamorphic negative, because it is such a big negative, and if you get
really lovely lenses, not only sharp, but an aesthetically sharp
negative – that is part of the puzzle – you do not just want clinically
advert for "Greystoke"'s London release with two 70mm prints. Editor's
TH – “What came off when you essentially made
"Dance Craze" as a
demonstration film – in Super 35 – what did the director say?
JD: Just after I had finished the film - and we had set up the optical
printer and had got the bugs out of the system - in my lifetime you have
to show people or they do not believe you – so you have to show them the
pictures. Hugh Hudson at that time was just starting Gracelands, and we
had set up the optical printer – we had made the film and made the
prints in the first Super 35 and then I spoke with a lady called Joyce
Hurley who was the production lady of "Greystoke". Hugh Hudson and I saw
the models of the sets they had made up; I said “you have got to make
this in 70mm” (I admitted I was passionate about this method), - but he
said he could not do it at this stage.
Hugh Hudson owned his own camera at that time and he was a lens fanatic
– a bit like Stanley Kubrick – he had his own lenses and his own camera.
He then wanted to go CinemaScope – so we make 2,35 Super 35 not 1,66
Super35 which was the old Technirama system; you get a bit bigger
negative but you lost a lot of negative because you cropped it down. He
was the first person to make a 70mm print from 35mm in the new wave of
Super 35 from 35mm – he launched it with "Greystoke" – and got the kudos
from the Super 35mm.
"Steadicam" Garret Brown himself, seen in the background.
They made 17 prints of the 70mm print, off the negative, without telling
the bank. They ran the negative 17 times on an optical printer to make
the prints. If you find a 70mm print of "Greystoke", which is made from
that negative, it will look incredible. They had to then make an optical
reduction 35mm to make CinemaScope prints – which were all right but
once you go that way it loses the edge of the quality.
Dunton's silluette looking at "Dance Craze". Image by Thomas Hauerslev
TH: Can you talk a little about the sound recording – the mixing:
JD: A friend at the time – a young chap whose Dad was at Samuelsons -
had gone to work for Abbey Road; so I had a good connection into Abbey
Road Studio, the Beatles studio. We then took the pictures, converted
them to tape, Umatic, and remixed the pictures with a monitor on the
mixing desk of Abbey Road. The bands were able to do a small amount of
editing - if they wanted to do an extra remix, or if someone made an
error with the guitar, you could fix it. We now had this 24 track tape
mixed at Abbey Road. We got the best out of the sound and went on to mix
the 6-track in Elstree Film Studios – in Dolby split surround, although
it was not real Dolby at that time.
audience listening to Joe's stories after the first screening of "Dance
Craze" in 30 years. Image by Thomas Hauerslev
Dolby: Dolby was available then but not as it has become – it was more
mono. We were looking for a Dolby ‘split surround’, which had only just
been used by George Lucas before that with "Star Wars". So you could, for
instance, have an aircraft coming in from the left and going off on the
right – not just a background sound. It was like a first for that as
frame blow-up by Schauburg Kino
It was a proper 24 track recording, photographed in a big negative area.
I would set the focus at a high focal distance because it was moving
around. There was a new wide angle lens available that I used. I used a
Steadicam - that was new - and it was there for posterity; it has only
been run twice since then. It was run in the theatre in New York for a
one night screening – filling the house on a one night screening - and I
showed it in Nashville to Whispering Bill Anderson, because I wanted to
make a one night at the Grand Old Opry; this looks like a one night
concert - with band changes.
There is no dialogue which means the world can see it - with no dialogue
you need no sub-titles !
TH: asked was it released widely in the States?
JD: Yes, but Rank did not explain that there was a deliberate break in
the middle of the film and, when it happened, the audience went wild
because they thought the projector had broken down. So Rank took it off
the circuit, but it was all over England - all 28 prints – it was not a
particularly big release but it was big for that time. I was so fed up
with Rank that, when one man in America, a distributor, said he liked
the film I sent him all the prints. I said if you like it you can have
the prints; it is very famous in a way in America because it would run
alternate weeks to "Rocky Horror Show" on a Saturday night, and then
"Dance Craze" the next night, and then every Saturday it ran on the student
networks. In Chicago there is a 2 Tone Ska Radio Station – it has a phenomenal following. I am not
sure where this man is now, but one day I shall find him!
by Thomas Hauerslev
That is why I am excited to actually see the film here in Bradford and I
am about to try and make a HD copy on Blu-ray, which I will grade
myself. I never really meant it to go on tape because I wanted people to
experience the 6-tracks of sound and the whole environment.
TH: do you still have the negative of the sound?
JD: No, I have not, but I have a Dolby 35mm print – a good print – and
with the electronics today you can make it look nice. You will see from
this print that it is very dark and the blacks have got tiny bits of red
in them, but it looks as though I meant it to be that way! There is so
much work you can do these days electronically, I know I can make it
look very nice. Or I may even scan the 70m print of it and do it – if
the money can be found.
frame blow-up by Schauburg Kino
TH: How many of the 70mm prints do you have? JD: one! – this is it! –
TH we are looking forward to seeing it tonight. JD: yes just think after
all this time – it is over 20 years since you in England saw it. I must
have seen it 200 times when I made it.
Tony Sloman joined for a few moments
by Thomas Hauerslev
Tony Sloman: joined for a few moments on his way through – he said he
was looking forward to seeing the film and would be introducing it – JD
admitted that the colour of the blacks in the film had got a tiny bit of
red but it looks as though it was meant to be! They enthused that it was
30 years since it was screened at the Dominion Tottenham Court Road. The
Astoria in Charing Cross Road was a newspaper presentation. Tony said he
felt sure there is a market for a technically updated version of this
TH: said it is thanks to Tony we are showing it here in Bradford at the
Film Festival 2011; he has been talking with Tony about "Dance Craze" for
20 years. – JD told him that he had just one print which he was trying
to do something with – although to Tony’s question as to who actually
owned the print, Joe Dunton admitted he was not sure! Doubtless someone
would come forward at some stage.
JD said that from the one print he had left he would make a Blu-ray. It
will be interesting, if this comes about, if someone comes forward to
say he owns it!
Joe Dunton's intro 22. June 2013, Egyptian Theatre, Hollywood, USA
"Dance Craze" trailer
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