LEXX Interview: Chris Bould is interviewed by theFrey
Interviewer: theFrey (Moderator – SadBOARD LEXX Forums)
Date: October 2001
Where: Email & Phone (Feb, 2002)
I met Mr. Bould when Mr. Del Grande introduced him to me last October in Halifax. Later I was watching him directing ‘Viva Lexx Vegas’ during this incredibly hot October afternoon. We were all dying in the heat, which was made worse by having to keep the door closed and the vent fans shut off during the shoot. The hot lights all over the place didn’t help any and we were all getting cranky. But a good laugh was had by all when Mr. Bould began joking about the unpleasant conditions. Between takes, while the lights and cameras were being moved and adjusted, the studio door was propped opened letting in the feeblest of breezes from the break area. Mr.Bould managed to ease the tension a bit,by yelling in mock anger at the lighting guys, “Hurry up! This delay is letting all my heat out!” We howled. He kicked us all out shortly after this, so they could move to a hand camera, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.
< theFrey> When did you find time to do the Elizabeth Taylor Special? During Hiatus? Or after Lexx closed in November?
It was during one of the times between seasons. While I rarely work in England anymore, and I am not terribly keen on documentaries, the BBC had asked me to do it because of a documentary I had done a few years earlier on the Nichols Brothers which was nominated for quite a few awards around the world.
< theFrey> Anything interesting happen on that shoot?
It was an interesting experience. While I was at Ms. Taylor’s house looking around for the best spot to shoot the interview, I was amazed at the decor. Hanging all over the place were Van Gogh’s and lots of beautiful photographs from her colorful life: on film sets and with various famous personalities. Shortly after Ms. Taylor came down to talk to me, the bell rang and it was Rod Stieger calling, who is one of my personal acting idols. It was amazing, I of course asked him to be interviewed for the documentary and spent a few hours filming him. He basically trashed the Method acting…he who almost invented it, after his first movie, on The Waterfront. All in all, I think the interview with Elizabeth Taylor went quite well, indeed it lasted for over two hours, which is quite a long time for her actually, bearing in mind that Barbara Walters only managed 30 minutes.
(Ed. Note; Mr. Bould upon further questioning admitted that while greeting Mr. Stieger he felt like he was in danger of turning into a stuttering, idol worshiping idiot at any moment. However, he did with much effort, just barely, manage to maintain his dignity and professionalism. Mr. Bould has a ‘lovely’ accent it was quite a treat to hear him become enthused all over again while describing the encounter.)
< theFrey> You also interviewed Shirley McClain, she plays the ditzy role to a T, what is she like in real life?
I think Ms. McClain is terribly bright, but perhaps like all actors, who spend long hours only interacting with other show business people, she may be a little different to most people. But it happens you see, with the hours and scheduling demands acting becomes a vocation, rather than a career.
< theFrey> Who were some of your favorite actors to work with?
Well Brian Downey is absolutely wonderful, he is generous to a fault with any actor he works with. Also, Tia Carrere from Relic Hunter was a lovely surprise, she is really smart. Just brilliant. I also enjoyed working with one of my all time heroes, someone who was to become a dear friend, Steven McHattie. James Wood was in a commercial I directed and he was also great to work with.
(Ed. Note; You are going to be seeing the words ‘lovely’ and ‘absolutely’ a lot. They seem to be very popular English terms, which ‘absolutely’ nut me out, for reasons having a lot to do with theNeice who recently moved to the Uk.)
< theFrey> Who were some of your favorite writers to work with?
Well I also write, so I don’t really think about the different writers too often, but the script, along side casting is THE most important aspect behind the success of any film..
< theFrey> How do you view your role towards the making of a program? What do like to bring into the film?
I like to bring the human element into a story. I firmly believe that it’s simply a case of Character Matters Above All. If you will notice, most of the stories I direct have more of a personal interaction, and rather less reliance on special effects.
< theFrey> The pace of productions seems pretty grueling. And since the actors are expected to show up sick, unless I imagine it would be visible to the camera, what does a director do when they are ill? I imagine letting actors and crew wander around aimlessly while a director is sick is frowned upon. How do you handle this?
*Laughs* Directors don’t get sick. We just don’t. Part of it is while you are on a project, you have that all that adrenalin happening and that helps keep you going. It is like when you have exams in school or something, you keep going and then fall completely apart as soon as holiday starts.
< theFrey> How did you get into the entertainment business?
I started out pushing film cans to the editing rooms. Then I became a film librarian, before I started Film Research. I worked on a great nostalgia series called Looks Familiar, a show featuring 3 celebrity guests each week, answering questions on rare film footage/clips from the vintage days of Hollywood . It was there I got to meet all kinds of people like Bette Davis, Gloria Swanson, Robert Preston and Alice Faye. It was perhaps to be, with hindsight, the foundations of what I was to become. Indeed, it was on this show, that a dear departed friend of mine, urged me to apply for one of six trainee director positions at Thames Television.
< theFrey> What did your family think about you going in to the entertainment business?
Well my father who was in the business as a sound man, was not very happy about it. He worked in sound for both film and jazz recordings, and understood how hard the business really was.
(Ed. Note; When I asked how his mother felt, Mr. Bould just laughed. It seems, that like many of us, that Mr. Bould comes from a blended family, with all that goes with that situation. I asked him if his family of many step-whatevers was like mine, putting the ‘Fun’ in dysfunctional. He laughed at that and said that was it exactly, and that he would have to remember that phrase for describing his family.)
< theFrey> What other kinds of work have you done while trying to break into the field?
Nothing really, my first real job was pushing tins of films around, and I have never since worked outside of the industry.
< theFrey> Did you or do you ever take a break from directing to work in a different field or area? If so doing what?
Not really, I once had my own production Company, called Stand & Deliver, where I did produce as well. Producing is less about the creative side, which is what I enjoy most: working through scripts, casting, working with actors, editing etc. Producing kept me in the office too long! Many people have no idea what a producer does, and the job itself can change from project to project. And I write a bit, so that is different, but I have always stayed in the industry.
< theFrey> What is the most important trait for a director to have?
Communications skills. Not just with the actors, but with everybody. I like to know the names of everyone who works with me. I had some excellent crew working on the episodes of Lexx that I did. They simply performed miracles week after week. It was important that I was able to let them know what I was looking for within the frame work of the set design, or shots I wanted.
< theFrey> Is there anyone in particular you would really like to work with?
Well I would love to work with Billy Bob Thornton, or Sean Penn. I think Sean is underrated by a lot of people, but he is an absolutely brilliant actor.
< theFrey> You have been on lots of location shots, where has been your favorite and why?
Well, Nova Scotia and Dublin are two of my favorite places to film. It is the people who make the places my favorite, not necessarily the scenery or anything. The thing I absolutely love about the Nova Scotian’s is that they understand irony and sarcasm. Since these are staples of British humor we understand each other better than I would say, an American. Not that American’s aren’t funny, but they don’t always appreciate or understand British humor, with of course certain exceptions.
< theFrey> What has been your favorite show/movie to direct that hasn’t been Lexx related? And why?
I really liked doing ‘Emily of New Moon’, which was also another Salter Street Production. It was a great show, and was nominated for a Gemini, so that helped. But in all honesty, I have the greatest job in the world, and it’s all about how you approach it. The truth is, there is rarely a show I don’t enjoy.
< theFrey> Do you have any hobbies? And if so how do you peruse them when shooting?
Well, when I am not directing I work on various writing projects. Including one I am hoping to do in Hawaii , but I don’t want to jinx it by talking about it.
< theFrey> Have you ever been handed a script and wondered what on earth am I suppose to do with this?
Well yes, I suppose every director has that happen to them.
(Ed. Note; He did mention later that ‘White Trash’ was the first ep he did for Lexx, and that if it had not been his first ep, he would have pressed for changes.)
< theFrey> What should we keep our eyes open for in the near future that you have directed?
Well I have done a few episodes for ‘Relic Hunter’, the star Tia Carrere was so happy with the results that she has asked him to come back if/when there is a season 4.
< theFrey> Do you still live in England?
Yes, I like to spend time with my family in England between shooting assignments. While my schedule is totally brutal when I am working, in between assignments I enjoy spending uninterrupted stretches with my family and friends. Catching up with my bills and fixing up my house. I’m lucky, because I get to spend enough time at home to get good and really bored, which makes me excited about my next project. I am really keen to work again in Canada, or perhaps the United States.
< theFrey> How did you end up in Canada?
I cast Stephen McHattie in the movie I shot in Ireland, My Friend Joe. We had such a blast together that he recommended me to the producers of ‘Emily of New Moon’ which went really well and was nominated for a Gemini Award. I really liked the show, and would have continued, but the director had to be Canadian, so they asked me if I would like to work on Lexx. (Ed. Note; This may be related to changes in the way Canadian grant money was awarded for domestic television production.)
< theFrey> How hard is it to direct a program that has a lot of CGI in it?
Well, I must confess, working with green screen is not my favorite thing. As I said, I like to focus on the characters not so much the special effects. They say that comedy is the hardest thing to do. Well, not only has LEXX lots of comedy moments, but it’s science fiction and a relentless schedule. It’s perhaps the hardest of any type of show to direct!
< theFrey> What are the special challenges CGI presents? And how do you get the cast and crew past them?
CGI gives you less to work with for the actors, if you’ll notice the sets on the episodes I direct are a little more substantial than in other episodes. I like to have a bit more on my sets for the actors to work around.
< theFrey> While we were in Halifax, there were occasions when the steady pace of filming seemed to get bogged down and there would many pauses for discussions about how scenes should be staged or changed. Did this happen often?
one of the problems with the Viva Lexx Vegas ep, was that we were literally given the episode hours before it was to start filming. Which made it very difficult on every one, including the crew. I am always astonished that they are able to pull off such miracles, they are absolutely just bloody amazing. Bruno, the scenic artist did such fabulous work, even when time was so short. Many times he and his department had to use hair dryers on the paint because there wasn’t time to let it dry on its own. Just great work. Sometimes that lack of prep time is a bad thing because it got to be expected of us all, particularly me. It is kind of a ‘well you made it work last week’ kind of mentality. Which of course is very difficult to maintain.
< theFrey> When it did happen how did it affect your schedule? And what steps (if any) did you or could you take to speed up this process?
It did happen, but usually only scripts that were delivered at the last minute, otherwise, everyone has a chance to look stuff over and suggest changes in a more orderly fashion. And while of course all of the cast want the finished show to be as good as it can be, some people are more interested in every aspect of the production. There really isn’t any way to totally avoid it, but I did try to keep things rolling as much as possible. I have been told that when I am directing I can be very intense, but not, I was assured in a bad way. *Laughs*
(Ed. Note; this question was in reference to a portion of the Moderators Report from October, at the very bottom of this page. A few things not in the Moderators report – The shooting for this ep had been going on all day. It was now late in the afternoon. Mr. Bould called the construction supervisor to ask him if the changes that Mr. McManus suggested would be safe to do. The construction supervisor was a saint of a man who had been having his own bad hair day. It seems that the two days they had to build the ‘Apocalexx Now’ set had been changed to two days in a studio that was being used. Not that having to stop working when Mr. Donovan was ready call action wasn’t fun for him and his people. Anyhow, as Mr. Bould was asking him if the cage would hold the weight of a person on top of it, you could just see the poor man loosing his mind. After looking at Mr. Bould and Mr. McManus like they were both crazy, he got a bit tense answering the various questions fired at him. No, it will not hold the weight of person on top. Yes, it was welded, but not in enough places to have someone jumping around on top of it. No, I wasn’t told it had to be strong enough to bear the weight of someone on top. Ect, ect.. Watching Mr. Bould steer Mr. McManus in to a compromise that he could live with and that the construction supervisor would approve was a treat. Without any indication that the delay was totally screwing up his schedule, he brokered some slight adjustments to the cage, I think they reinforced the corners with clamps or something. And worked out modifications to Mr. McManus’ actions that would result in him having only part of his body on the top edge of the cage. All parties being now somewhat satisfied, the shooting resumed.)
< theFrey> Was this common with all of the actors you worked with on Lexx?
(Ed. Note; Mr. Bould then asked me a question. He wanted to know if we (Sadgeezer.com) intended to interview all of the cast and major crew? I eventually replied ‘Of Course’ while wiping tears of laugher from my eyes. The inflection used asking the question just nutted me out. I explained that we intended to make every effort to contact all of the major players to get their take on the Lexx wrap up. He then commended us on our perseverance.)
< theFrey> Did similar things often happen when you were working on other productions?
It happens to an extent on lots of productions, but let me tell you I would rather have someone who is perhaps labeled difficult to work with than someone who is just going through the motions. In fact bring them on, those people, ‘the difficult ones’ are more passionate about their jobs and really care about how the shots come out.
< theFrey> You have worked on White Trash, Wake the Dead, Twilight, The Web, The Net, Fire and Water, May, Boomtown, The Key, Girl town, Texx Lexx, Fluff Daddy, and Viva Lexx Vegas. Which episode was, in your opinion, the most difficult to direct? Why?
one episode which game me a lot of trouble was Fluff Daddy. As soon as I looked at the script I realized that it was being extremely ambitious in the amount of material that it was trying to cover. I kept saying this is too damn long, we’ll never fit it all in. All I got back was, ‘oh it will work.’
(Ed. Note; As many of us know from the Lexx Fan club reports, many scenes were filmed which were never used. (Although one snipplett did make it to the episode ‘Moss’ where Pres. Priest is watching TV waiting Prince to show back up) for And while this does happen from time to time on all productions, it made it very difficult to for the director’s view of the episode to emerge in a manner which makes them happy.)
< theFrey> Which of the Lexx episodes that you have directed has been your favorite? And Why?
Well I liked the fact that that sometimes stuff that you think will cause a problem ends up making you produce a better product. You mentioned that ‘Wake the Dead’ was one of your favorite episodes. Well, while filming we had to particularly sensitive to the German restrictions on this particular episode that there be no graphic violence, decapitation, or gore. We had big meetings about it, and worried about how it might negatively affect the episode. But in the end, I think it made us think harder about what we were doing and we ended up with a better episode.
< theFrey> What were some of the bigger challenges that Lexx provided you that you might not have dealt with on other projects?
The biggest challenge was perhaps its biggest strength, Lexx was very spontaneous and energetic in its approach. And working with green screen is of itself a big challenge. I also had a problem learning how to work with High Definition Video as opposed to film, but so did everyone. I prefer film because HDV because does not have the same look as regular film. You have a seemingly richer feel to film, but I can understand where it makes things easier for the post production people, what with the various overlays and effects that they have to do. But it was hard on me, especially at first that things were not coming out the way I thought they should look. We all (cast and crew) of course had to get use to the fact that it took in everything that was going on, both voice and picture whether you had called cut or not.
< theFrey> In regard to the net and the web, a lot of viewers didn’t think the differences were great enough between the two to merit an entire second episode. Did you have any say in the format the two episodes took?
Those two were done at a difficult time in the production of Lexx. Then, a great friend of mine, Norman Denver, was producing the show. It was at the very end of the season, and time and money were running out. They were the “bottle-neck” shows. Where usually I had eight days for an episode, I only had nine days for both of these. It was Norman who “asked me if I minded doing this ludicrous schedule”. Of course, I said yes.
< theFrey> If you had the chance to change anything about these two episodes, what would you have done differently to make the differences in the two episodes more dramatic?
Oh, I don’t know. *chuckle* Asked for more money? A guest star? Anything would have helped. None of those were possible due to the time and budget constraints. Even a little more time to explain the differences in the story a little better might have helped.
< theFrey> People are curious if you agree with us that Patricia Zentilli is extremely talented?
I think that Pat is absolutely wonderful. I first worked with her on ‘Wake the Dead’ whilst I was casting, and though that she was extremely talented and hard working. I appreciated the energy that she brought to her performance and the way that she was always on time for makeup and wardrobe and thoroughly prepared for each day’s shoot, rested and knowing her lines ect….
(Ed. Note; Mr. Bould also noted that Pat Z was a natural comedienne, and we both agreed that she was very attractive.)
< theFrey> Who have been a few of your favorite actors (regular or guest) to work with on Lexx?
Brian Downey, Patricia Zentilli, Nigel Bennet and Rolf Kanies, were just wonderful. In fact they are all just absolutely wonderful to work with.
< theFrey> Recently we have heard possible confirmation about the Lexx Spin-off, do you think you will be working on it?
Well of course it is all up in the air isn’t it? I have come to believe in nothing until I see that morning’s call sheet. But I would love to work again with Brian and Pat and Rolf and who ever else might be involved. But I would like to see something with a bit more leeway time wise and it would of course depend on who else was working on it. Also it would depend on what else I am involved with at the time. But I do love working in Canada, I have agents in Toronto and Vancouver, and I am very keen on returning there to work.
(2000s) (1990s) (1980s)
“Big Sound” (2000) TV Series
Elizabeth Taylor: England’s Other Elizabeth (2000) (TV)
“I Was a Sixth Grade Alien” (1999) TV Series
… aka “My Best Friend Is an Alien” (1999) ( Canada : English title)
Alptraum im Airport (1998) (TV)
“Emily of New Moon” (1998) TV Series
Mayday – Flug in den Tod (1997)
Midnight Flight (1997)
“Lexx” TV Series (episodes “White Trash”, “Wake the Dead”, “Twilight”, “Web, The”, “Net, The”, “Fire and Water”, “May”, “Boomtown”, “The Key”, “Girl town”, “Texx Lexx”, “Fluff Daddy”, “Viva Lexx Vegas”)
… aka “Lexx: The Dark Zone Stories” (1997) (Canada: English title)
… aka “Lexx: The Series” (1997)
… aka “Tales from a Parallel Universe” (2000) (USA: first season title)
My Friend Joe (1996)
… aka Mein Freund Joe (1996) ( Germany )
Crazy for a Kiss (1995) (TV)
Bill Hicks: Revelations (1994) (TV)
Bill Hicks: Relentless (1992) (V)
Sean Hughes Live (1991) (V)
… aka Sean Hughes Live and Seriously Funny (1991) (V) ( UK : video box title)
“Whose Line Is It Anyway?” (1988) TV Series (1989-1992)
“Alas Smith & Jones” (1984) TV Series (1992)
… aka “Smith & Jones” (1989) ( UK : new title)
Gabriel & Me (2001) (executive producer)
“Alas Smith & Jones” (1984) TV Series (producer)
… aka “Smith & Jones” (1989) ( UK : new title)
Additional Picture Credits
The Lexx Fan Club and Leif Erikssond
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