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Lancelot Narayan
Richard Schuchardt has taken the opportunity to interview Lancelot Narayan. Lancelot has been the DVD producer for Paramount's new release of The Italian Job starring Michael Caine et al. Lancelot Narayan was born in London in 1968. He started out working for the Ministry of Defence and later moved on to work as a feelance journalist. His work appeared in publications such as The Times, The Daily Telegraph, Heat, Total Film and 007 Magazine. The Making Of The Italian Job was his first work as a Producer and Director. The Italian Job DVD sees him collaborate with good friend Matthew Field on the film they both love so much.  With the inevitable success of The Italian Job DVD, Lancelot has also started work on extras for the upcoming DVD of Zulu. With the release of The Italian Job on DVD, we at DVDActive thought this was a good time to catch up with him and ask a few questions.  

DVDActive: Why do you think The Italian Job is so popular, even thirty years after it was made?

I think The Italian Job is still so popular because after all is said and done, we, in England, have a certain sensibility running through our veins. No matter what sort of PC ideals we have been taught and taken on board, the English sense of humour and values are inherent within us. The Italian Job addresses that. I don't think it was particularly deliberate at the time. People just thought that way. Its ideology seems somewhat outdated now, but we accept it, because at the end of the day, we still think that way.

Lancelot Narayan

DVDActive: Is there anything you regret not doing for the upcoming release of the DVD?

I regret not getting Sir Michael Caine involved. He was just too busy. Quincy Jones invited us over to his house in Bel Air to interview him for the docco but time ran out on us. On the whole, I'm more than pleased with what's on the disc.

DVDActive: With the rumoured Hollywood remake of The Italian Job, what do you think about remakes? Is it best to leave the original version as the definitive movie?

I was at first really anti remake. What's the point? I know that Producer, Michael Deeley is very anti remake. I loved Brozza's The Thomas Crown Affair. It proved that stylish adult cinema is still possible. I also liked Ocean's 11. The remake of The Italian Job is going to be a very different movie, and although comparisons will be made, they'll be unfair, because the two films will be sooooo different.

DVDActive: The ending to The Italian Job is probably one of the most talked end scenes ever. Is it true that the ending was made with a sequel in mind?

The Italian Job was going to be the start of a series of movies, so yes, it was made with a sequel in mind. Because the movie bombed Stateside, this never happened.

DVDActive: When putting together a DVD, how do you make decisions on what to include and what not to include, how hard do you work to get the best available features and commentaries?

What to include and what not to include comes down to time and money. In order to get the best, you work with the best. The idea to create extras for the DVD came from my dear friend, Matthew Field, the author of The Making of The Italian Job book. He brought me on board and together we worked out what we wanted to do. We worked with a company based in Soho, called LipSync. They are a creative and Post-Production house. Without them, this would never have happened. Our Executive Producer, Philip Moores, worked out the budget, and told us what we could do and what we couldn't, but let us really get on with it. He trusted us. It all comes down to numbers. Matthew is the world expert on the film. He's already interviewed everybody for his book, so we just went back to them and interviewed them for the Docco. I wanted the docco to look cool and stylish, so we shot them in some of my favourite places. I designed the shots with the help of my brilliant cameraman, Johnny Hazell, from whom I learnt so much. Our editor, Simon Graham was a South African god and was really encouraging and helped me enormously. John Trumper, the editor of The Italian Job had the one deleted scene, so we borrowed it from him for the disc. I could go on. Basically, to create the best features, you need to compliment the material and heighten the DVD experience. You need to be a film nut. I've been a movie pervert since I was tiny. You grow up with people telling you you're wasting your time, what good is all this knowledge going to do you? Well this is the answer.

Lancelot Narayan
The hardest part to complete was the documentary. The editing took the longest. The commentary took a day to do. I know that some people like to bang on about how hard they work, but to me, if you enjoy doing something, it's no hardship at all. We all had a ball compiling the features for The Italian Job, it was a blast.

DVDActive: The movie made the mini famous throughout the world. What are your personal opinions about the choice of car for the movie?

It could only be the Mini. The film's screenwriter, Troy Kennedy Martin said that he wrote the thing with the Mini in mind. He said that it was "the car that made the Sixties the Sixties. More than Jean Shrimpton." No other car would do. It's classlessness precluded everything else.

DVDActive: What is the average length of time that a DVD takes to construct from start to finish, from the initial planning up until duplication? Which DVD that you have worked on has taken the most time up to now?

Well, The Italian Job is my first DVD. We had our first meeting with Paramount a year and a half before we started. Once we did start, from start to finish, it took about six months. But, we were working on another title at the same time.

Lancelot Narayan

DVDActive: What sort of work goes into the design of the packaging? Do you have some involvement or is it totally handled by an ad agency?

I didn't have anything to do with the packaging. When Matthew and I submitted the original proposal, we had some ideas. We showed Paramount some artwork done by an artist we both know. I'm a big fan of old fashioned illustration, it all adds to the desirability (if that's a word?!) of the package. Paramount's marketing department felt, and rightly so, that an instantly recognizable image should be used on the cover. The public have by now got used to the artwork for the 1999 rerelease poster. This was also used on the cover of Matthew's book, so this was the way they went. A lot of time and care goes into the packaging. It has to look right on the shelf, thought goes into how it might reflect certain lighting set-ups in supermarkets. Us DVD fans go out with the specific purpose of buying a certain title, but for the majority of the public, DVDs are an impulse buy. The Italian Job will be stocked in a veriety of locations, including Hardware stores!! So the right look has to be thought out. It's a fascinating process.

DVDActive: What is your favourite DVD and why?

You may have sussed by now that I'm an old fashioned kind of chap. My favourite DVD may not be one of the top of the range, all singing, all dancing discs, but I love it. My favourite DVD is the region one version of Thunderball. The picture is so clear, you can put your hand in it, the 5.1 mix may not be the best, but to hear that 1965 gun barrel explode like bonfire night across your TV is awesome. The extras taken from the laserdisc, and were put together, with Goldfinger, way before the rest of the DVD collection. The doccos, while not as polished as the rest of the Bonds, have a warmth that shines through. I love photograhy, and the stills gallery is well chosen and a joy to behold. It's like every other film that comes out nowadays is hailed as a "high-octane, pumping-powerhouse of a movie..." but Thunderball really is. It's so underated. Nothing that comes after, with the exception of OHMSS comes close. Supercool.

DVDActive: If you could work on the DVD release for any film, what would it be?

If I could work on any disc, it would have to be another underrated picture. State Of Grace came and went in 1990. It stars Sean Penn, Gary Oldman, Ed Harris and Robin Wright. It's a New York crime film with huge style and substance. MGM are releasing the region 1 disc later in the year. Alas, with no extras.

Lancelot Narayan

DVDActive: Whats next for you after the release of The Italian Job DVD?

Matthew Field, Lipsync and I have just finished work on the extras for the Zulu disc for Paramount. There are two documentaries, "Roll Of Honour" and "...And Snappeth The Spear In Sunder." There's an excellent commentary also from 2nd Unit Director, Robert Porter and film historian, Dr. Sheldon Hall. I've just got back from LA where we recorded a commentary with Malcolm McDowell for an upcoming DVD of Lindsay Anderson's "If...." It's all going on. I just hope everybody gets a kick out of it all. The reviews for The Italian Job features have so far been more than we hoped for. I hope we can keep up the standard.

[b]DVDActive: Lancelot, thanks for taking the time to answer our questions!

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