Paul Greengrass on the crew he worked with on World in Action

And then of course the best, George Jesse Turner and Phil Taylor were always shooting wherever you went. It’d be sometimes Alan Bale on sound. Phil Taylor. And we went to many, many places around the world. God, I remember being in Beirut with George Jesse Turner in ‘82, it must’ve been. With George Jesse Turner, Simon Berthon was producing. I was a researcher, George and Alan Bale, and it was a proper war zone. You know, we were in west Beirut. The Israeli army was just on the other side of the airport, and it was dangerous as fuck. And I remember very early on, probably the first day, we went to get our passes at a PLO building. And I was again, very young, and I’d never been. I worked quite a bit in Northern Ireland, but it was my first proper war zone. And all of a sudden there was an Israeli air attack and the whole place went bananas. everybody started running all over. We were in a sort of, from memory, like a hallway with a staircase down and up. And George had his hands in the day bag, changing film. In those day bags that you used to… and suddenly you heard all the noise and this sort of unbelievable pressure when these jets come in. Everybody was running around. I jumped down the stairs and I was absolutely, fuck me, you think you’re inside the PLO. Anyway, there was a tremendous amount of banging what went on for about five minutes and then it all seemed to be over. It didn’t seem to last very long, five minutes maybe. There’d obviously been an air strike nearby. Anyway, I came up. I’ll never forget it, I pissed myself! So my jeans were wet. Very heroic, it was. And George was still there with his hands in the day bag, with Alan Bale next to him. George said, “Where did you go?” I said, “I fucking jumped down the stairs.” And I remember Alan Bale saying, “Oh, no, don’t do that.” He said, “Listen, don’t worry. The only time to get worried is when you see us running.”


I remember the first time I started directing and producing, as they called it. And of course, you’ve been the bag carrier, the researcher for so many years. And obviously, you’re integral to the process. But you can sit next to somebody driving and think you can drive. It’s wholly different when you’re in the driver’s seat. And I can’t even remember what my first programme was that I actually made myself. But anyway, I remember a couple of things about it. I remember that first day of shooting, and it was like an interview, I think. And I remember George saying to me, “So where do you want this?” And I remember feeling utterly panicked. “Oh my God! What do I do? What do I do?” Inside. You’re literally in brain freeze. And George being so nice and saying, “Look. Just look for the depth. There’s a nice corner. We’ll shoot towards that.” And slowly but surely like a jackdaw you pick up the tips. Shoot towards the light. Back on a long lens. All the basic language of filmmaking, he would impart to me as a young man with great generosity.

We were in the Philippines, we were shooting. We were doing a thing about following Cory Aquino, when she took on Marcos in the revolution. And we were with some soldiers from the army. It was hilly country. And I wanted them to walk across this hill. So we got this nice shot of them silhouetted. And for some reason I couldn’t work out, the commander of this little platoon was very, very unhappy about it. And I said, “I don’t understand what’s the problem.” George turned to me and said, “It might be a very nice shot, but let’s face it, which soldier would walk against the sunlight on the ridge of a hill?” Brilliant!

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