Interview: Stephen La Rivière on Supermarionation, Gerry Anderson and more
Anyway, in 2002, I got an e-mail from the PR company working for Revelation Films. It constantly gives me brainache to think that one’s entire life can be changed by something so random. Revelation were releasing Terrahawks on DVD and so I enquired if I might have a review copy. They sent one, I wrote a review and shoved in on the website.
The special features were dreadful, at a time that the Doctor Who DVDs were starting to hit their stride. I couldn’t work out why there weren’t any interviews on the set. So I wrote to the PR company, who, in turn, passed me over to Revelation.
I can’t remember the exact specifics, but I basically told them that I could make them a documentary — this being despite the fact that I knew no one that had worked on Terrahawks, and, perhaps more significantly, had never made a documentary or any kind of film in my life.
Whilst I must have been out of my mind, being gung-ho through sheer stupidity can help you achieve some of the best things, as fear makes us cautious.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, it was Kevin Davies, the chap who’d designed and filmed the opening and closing titles for Terrahawks that saved my life. I have no idea why. Anyone else would probably have thought ‘amateur’ and steered clear. But he basically took me under his wing and gave me a crash course in making programmes.
Kevin had, in the intervening years, become a director himself and had made the fabulous Making Of The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy and More Than 30 Years In The TARDIS. He found me a cameraman, some gear to edit on (I didn’t even know how programmes were edited!) and the rest is history. I somehow got through it.
Revelation had no idea I was an 18-year-old know-nothing until the day I turned up. Which is probably their fault for being seduced by someone being cheap!
Boldfaced emphasis added by me.
I love stories like that. Because they defy what everyone believes to be the natural order of things.
What’s especially extraordinary about La Rivière is that he accomplished what no one else claiming to be an Anderson fan has done: produced a definitive book and some remarkable documentaries about Gerry Anderson’s productions, one of which was Standby for Action. And he did this even though he was born decades after the heyday of Supermarionation! You would think it an impossible task to dig up anything so late, yet he did. He’s since gone on to do other documentaries of cult TV series, such as Danger UXB, Upstairs, Downstairs, and The Champions.