Watch your language!…It’s been a tough week full of scouting, casting, watching tapes, more scouting, and making decisions. With a shock I realise that I have been examining the minutiae of the picture with such intensity that now I need to take a step back and decide whether the look and the tone of the picture is going in the right direction. Luckily I will get the chance as I fly back to LA tomorrow for a few days break before we scout the US leg and I finally get to meet the band.
But why, I ask myself, has it been so intense? and I realise that language has something to do with it as we are working on a bi-lingual picture. Most of the crew are Spanish and few of us English or Americans speak their tongue. I remember the shame of directing Johnny Halliday, the Elvis of France, in Paris some years back and the entire crew, Johnny included, had to speak English because my French was so appalling; on one embarrassing occasion Johnny even had to act as my interpreter. Here in Spain it is even worse as I speak only about three words of Spanish and so the crew have to discuss everything with me and amongst themselves in English so I know what’s going on. But however good the crew’s English is, and it’s universally VERY good, some of the short-hand is missing and it requires more concentration to make sure that everyone understands what I want – or what I think I want. So, in a vain effort to show some solidarity, I’m trying to pick up some Spanish and Nike, my assistant, has bought me the Berlitz Spanish Vocabulary Book.
Once upon a time there was a Monty Python sketch in which the Pythons were learning phrases from a guide book and of course most of them were laughably useless; my favourite being: “My hovercraft is full of eels!” So, to show solidarity with our cheerful Spaniard crew, and demonstrate my grasp of their tongue, I am learning the following two phrases which the Berlitz book helpfully provides. 1: “El misil que habia sideo derribado esparcio escombros sobre un area extensa.” and 2: “El concierto de Pink Floyd se emitio en directo desde Venecia?”
If, like me, you are not bi-lingual let me translate for you. #1 means: “The missile, which has been shot down, scattered debris over a wide area.” Pretty useful for chatting up the birds that one! And #2: “Was the Pink Floyd concert broadcast live from Venice?” I’m sure the S-Club lot will be very impressed!
Confusingly the book, which as you’ll recall is for English speaking people trying to habla a bit of espanol, also provides you with the phrase for, “Portuguese spoken here.” But why? Early on the book gives you key words for various vocabulary topics and I note that a surprising touch of cynicism seems to have crept into the language learning industry. The first word they teach you for Love and Marriage is affair – the first word for Birth and Children is abortion!
And so I admire every one of my crew who, unlike me, were not born into an English speaking family. I can get work just by being employable – they have to have a great resume and be fluent in English as well before they get the gig. And just think on this fellow mono-linguists. Nike, my aforementioned assistant, is German and is consequently speaking most of the day in 2 languages of which neither is her native tongue!
I will leave you with: “No soy muy bueno para los idiomas, pero mi hermana es dotada para las lenguas.” which I think means “My Spanish is awful but my sister is a cunning linguist.”