Soon after working on the set of Bobby Deerfield, I was assigned to the film Electric Horseman, another Sydney Pollack production. This time, the stars were Robert Redford and Jane Fonda. Two actors I worked previously with. Fonda on the set of Julia and Redford on The Great Gatsby.
The Electric Horseman was a 1970 western romance starring two of the biggest actors in the 1970s. Fonda, a decade earlier, starred in Pollack’s They Shoot Horses, Don’t They? Redford, a frequent collaborator with Pollack, did the majority of stunts and horse-riding himself, being very familiar with horses from his time on his Utah ranch, which was located only miles away from the film-set.
There was one scene which I found interesting for me as a photographer that I only realised was happening when I heard the camera crew talking about ‘day-for-night.’ The scene that was being shot was a punch-up or was it a struggling love scene between Jane Fonda and Robert Redford,which normally would have been filmed outside at night. However, I believe it is simpler to handle a day-for-night technique which entails a special filter that is attached to the lens which when the film is developed it appears to have been shot at night. I’m not an expert, just a layman with a little bit of extra information. In this particular case, I can only shoot the scene as I see it in daylight.
However, what I did find difficult to photograph was all the little lights that were attached to Redford’s clothing. It was very difficult to have an exact light reading. This does become slightly nerve racking because you only have the results when your film comes back from the lab. These problems are solved in this day and age with digital cameras.
What I noticed about Redford is that he is such a natural actor. There is no Method Acting in his performance. His diction is perfect one understands every single word he says. He may have liked props but he wasn’t great at handling them. On one occasion he was saddling up his horse while dealing with a bit of dialogue. There was quite a number of props to attach around the saddle–so far so good. It was quite a long speech and he was concentrating on his lines and then OOPS! The hot coffee pot went flying and the coffee went dribbling down the back of the poor horse…and here I leave it to your imagination how that unscripted scene finished!
Extract taken from Eva Sereny’s ‘Through Her Lens’ available SIGNED at the Iconic Store.