The Shining

It was as though, I'd been here before...

Gordon Stainforth on alt.movies.kubrick

A few years ago I stumbled upon the site archiviokubrick.it.  At the time it had a pretty good collection of articles about Kubrick and his movies.  You had the option to either view it in Italian or English.  However, the majority of English articles have been taken down.  Thankfully the webmaster graciously sent me the original English articles I asked for:

"If you came on late into the production, who synched up the dailies before that? I'm aware the actual editing wouldn't begin until the principal photography wrapped, but was there another assistant handling that job? And, if so, what happened to him?

Right , I must clear this up! I had nothing to do with The Shining itself in the period while it was shot. The first assistant editor, Gill Smith, did all the synching up of the rushes each day. I got the job of working as Vivian's assistant editor/editor on her 16mm documentary a week after principle photography finished in May 1979. Synching up her rushes took a month, so much was there, and all with no idents. Shortly after this, we all moved to the cutting rooms at Childwickbury (in the Stable Block!) - which was good news for me, because, unlike Elstree, I was now in the same building as the Big Movie!

Vivian then spent at least a month viewing all her material and selecting scenes she liked best. She didnt want my imput at all at this stage, so I had very little to do, except ask Ray Lovejoy if he had any jobs for me on the main movie. There was always a mountain of work, especially refiling trims, labelling boxes, and reconstituting sync rolls for Stanley to watch on the Steenbeck.

The very good news for me was that Vivian seemed to get completely bogged down with her documentary. She just had so much footage to view and seemed very reluctant to cut anything until she had become extremely familiar with every foot she had shot. I think we just cut a few very short scenes. But as the summer wore on I became more and more involved, full time, on the main movie, and really enjoying it - so that by about October I was in effect one of 3 second assistants (Adam Unger and Steve Pickard being the other two, and Tim Smith - Gill's brother - a trainee, doing the rubber numbering - printing the take/footage numbers on the edge of every take). To be honest I was really dreading having to go back to working on Vivian's documentary because I was so enjoying working on my first feature.

I think then that Stanley actually told Vivian NOT to cut any of her documentary until the movie was finished because it was going to be part of the promotion for the main movie and would contain many clips.

All the time up to Christmas the work on The Shining became more intense, and Ray became very exhausted. Then just after Christmas, he was rushed into hospital with septicemea. For a week Gill was acting editor. Then (fortune smiled on me!) she had a family wedding to attend to, so had the weekend off. So that weekend I worked with Stanley - and on Monday was told I would be cutting the rest of the picture with him! But it was still very much team work: Gill and I were in effect joint First Assistants. Ray overseeing the whole editing process - with his arm in a sling - dealing with labs/technicalities etc. Gill seeing to all the filing and reconstituting of trims with Adam and Tim. It was a sort of shift system. I would come in to work after lunch, and be working under Gill and Ray's instructions until Stanley arrived. Which was usually shortly after lunch - but then he would disappear for several hours in his office because there was always a huge amount of work for him to do with Jan - the Producer - and with Warners etc). Typically he would start editing work about 4 or even 5 in the evening. The rest of the team all left about 6 unless there was something very major for them to do.

Stanley and I would then work on the movie until typically around midnight sometimes even later - one or two in the morning!, but always with a one hour supper break at about 9.00 pm. As soon as we had finished cutting the movie in early April 1980, Stanley asked me to do the music editing. We then all moved back to Elstree for the dubbing.

Then as soon as The Shining was complete, the trailer cut etc. I resumed work with Vivian on her documentary, which had lain dormant for nearly a year! This too was an epic and took us until mid October, so we completed it the very week The Shining was released in Britain. We actually had to work round the clock to get it finished in time to be shown on BBC Television.

alt.movies.kubrick, 24 January, 2003

The reason Making the Shining was half an hour long was that that was the time slot of BBC Arena, which the documentary was always intended for from the outset. Vivian's original final cut worked extremely well, but unfortunately Stanley was not entirely happy with it - he always saw the main purpose of the documentary as a way of promoting The Shining, so he had us take out two nice scenes of him directing (part of one of which of him directing Shelley in the bathroom HAS reappeared in A Life in Pictures), so that he could have us put in two more clips from The Shining. Vivian was very upset, but Stanley's views of course prevailed, as always! The final cut, in the sense of what scenes of Stanley were in and what were out, was his. It is a great pity that the documentary couldn't have been about another 10 minutes longer, but we just had to squeeze the whole thing into half an hour. No mystery about it. Such is documentary film making!

Of course there was much more than 30 mins that was usable. One cryptic note I have somewhere (and I could probably clear this up if I go up into the attic and rummage around in old boxes where I've got some old diaries and letters, and manage to find my 1979 diary, where it is probably clearly recorded) that 237 (400 ft) rolls of 16mm film were shot by Vivian which is about 42 hours worth! - and that does not include the interviews with Shelley, Jack, Danny and Scatman. But, as I say, I would have to check on this.

Now sadly, I heard from Jan Harlan about 2 years ago that there was a problem with the outtakes in that all the sound had gone missing - which is very odd because the sound was always kept in the same box as the action (16mm film and mag kept conveniently in 35mm deep cardboard boxes). So, unless it was removed and stored elsewhere after I had left the production in 1980, this is a great mystery. Perhaps someone wanted to make a radio documentary? If it is true that the sound really has gone missing it is extremely odd because someone must have deliberately and painstakingly gone thru each box removing the sound. And if it has gone missing it would be hell to re-sync up (assuming original 1/4 inch tapes can be found) because there were no clapperboards and no idents on anything, and it originally took me one full month to sync up all the rushes! So unless the sound has been found, all the outtakes are almost certainly unusable.

alt.movies.kubrick, 19 January, 2003

Viv sounded practically bursting with stories in the commentary so I hope that might signal she's interested in expanding on stuff she shot on The Shining and perhaps even Full Metal Jacket one day if she has the time, energy and money to do so.
Yes, I would very, very much like to meet up with her again one day. She was quite a task master (like her father!), but actually enormous fun to work with. I got on with her extremely well, and we had a lot of laughs.

She laughs quite a bit in her commentary and seems like she has a wicked sense of humor.
Yes, like her father, but possibly even more so (but who knows what Stanley was like at her age - I mean when he was 20?). Stanley was quite serious a lot of the time, Vivian quite a lot less... but always somehow very tense, highly charged, very sharp... very difficult to explain what I mean exactly. Life always as something very dramatic. Let me put it in a very vague way... working and almost living with them (at least that's how it felt at times!), often felt more like living with a mediterranean family than an English one... to me anyway, who comes from a very conservative, placid English family! That's how it felt.

The competence of filming all that footage shows a lot of talent for a 17 year old, even if your dad is Stanley Kubrick.
Yes, huge, huge talent.

I noticed in the book A Life in Pictures a photo of Vivian using an Aaton camera. Was she shooting in Super-16 or regular 16mm? And did she have a small 1/4 inch recorder attached to the side of the camera to allow her the freedom to move around without the need of a sound person to carry the deck?
99 percent certain is was just regular 16mm (but so long ago I can't really remember). I don't remember there being anything unusual about the pic-sync or the Steenbeck we were using. Yes, she had the tape recorder slung over her shoulder (either a Sony or a Nagra - can't remember), and the mike attached to top of camera (you can see her llike this reflected in mirror at beginning of Making the Shining I think).

In the commentary she describes her sound equipment as a Nagra SN with an 1/8" cassette sized tape which she goes on to say was developed for the CIA with a bit of humor in her voice.
Yes, I remember now that it was a Nagra SN, which I think had special cassettes. But all that then must have then been transferred onto 1/4" tapes because I am sure I can remember all these little white boxes of 1/4'' tapes in the cutting room, which we then got transferred to mag stock. ((The mic attached to the top of the camera)) is a Sennheiser.

Did she load and unload her own magazines, or did she have an assistant to that?
She loaded all her own magazines. Like her father, very good at all things technical. She had no assistant (no one else allowed on the set) - was a completely one-man band - sorry, one woman! I joined the production the week after the main shoot came to an end.

alt.movies.kubrick, 23 January, 2003

Who actually did the interviews with the actors that appear in the finished documentary?
It was a very nice film critic who worked for the BBC, with a name like Richard Johnson (someone Vivian had met, and liked) - sorry my memory for names is really atrocious.

alt.movies.kubrick, 22 May, 2000

Stanley's swearing at Shelley Duvall is clearly audible in the 1999 broadcast. This wouldn't have been left in for the 1980 version, because BBC2 didn't tolerate swearing then. We don't have any idea what happened to Stanley's swearing in the original. Was it bleeped, or faded? If it was altered by you, why was it there in the 1999 showing?

I was the editor who cut out the swearwords, to Vivian's instructions. We had to do this because the BBC didn't allow the "F word", but we took out only about 80% of each offending word and we just put in some blank "atmos". A little bit has been cut so that what he says is "Shelley, we're -u-cking killing ourselves out here" etc! Because of his emphasis the cut is hardly noticeable. We did it before it went near the BBC. Though Vivian had probably been told what to do by Alan Yentob. ((The re-broadcast in 1999)) was exactly the same as the version which went out in 1980. I know this for sure because I spoke to Alan Yentob this year, the day before it was transmitted, and they just got it out of the BBC archives.

alt.movies.kubrick, 7-9 July, 1999

I also remember it being a fair bit longer than 32 minutes.
No it wasn't. It was 30 mins exactly, including the 1980 intro, so actually a bit less. Alan Yentob's intro was much longer this year, so the whole programme was nearer 40 minutes, but the documentary itself was exactly as transmitted in 1980.

alt.movies.kubrick, 7 July, 1999"