Nick Steer on the challenges of filming a drama in two languages.

More drama, a 1988 A Tale of Two Cities, which is another big one. We were in Bordeaux shooting for, oh weeks, must have been nine, 10 weeks or something. Which was another great experience. That was an interesting one, because it was a co-production with a French company and the cost was half, well more than half English. The other portion were French. Some of whom were great actors. But their command of English wasn’t… it was fine to chat, but to act… I think Steve Hawes was the producer who liaised with the French production company, because I think he had a background as a French teacher or something.

Anyway, so the decision was made to shoot it all in English, and to shoot certain scenes in English and French. That was very interesting, because the scenes in French with the French cast would take half the time of the scenes in English with the French cast. In terms of running the dialogue, in French it was very quick. In English it was really slow.

But the French lead was an actor called Xavier Deluc, and his English really wasn’t great. I flagged up in the first couple of weeks, I said, “We have a problem here, because you really can’t understand him.” And they said, “No, no, no, no, no. It’ll be fine.” We’ll actually, it wasn’t fine. So they let it go for the whole shoot, and then at the end of the day they got an English actor to re-voice him. Which is really disappointing for me, because one of the things that all sound recordists want is for your sound to make it into the final show. Not to have post-sync, or ADR as it’s called now. So that was a shame.

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