MICHAEL ALTMAN (Projectionist)

- How did you get involved in THE 13TH WARRIOR?
- I was brought in to replace the projectionist who was hired to set up the dailies. The equipment wouldn't work and they were having endless problems getting the system to work.
- How long did this project last for you?
- 3 months.
- What were you told about this project when hired?
- Nothing... I never know much more than the working title and, sometimes, not even that.
- The first title of the movie was EATERS OF THE DEAD. Weren't you surprised by the association of Disney with such a movie (and such a title)?
- Absolutely! The working title was the topic of MUCH discussion and the bunt of many jokes!
- Tell me about that...
- Oh... Just crew (mostly editorial) I was around, making juvenile jokes and wondering who would use the title, even for a working title...
- And do you know why they finally changed the movie title, from EATERS OF THE DEAD to THE 13TH WARRIOR?
- This matter of the title was resolved finally, as far as I can tell, after principal photography was completed and John McTiernan had returned to the States. I do not recall if I ever heard the "13TH WARRIOR" title while on location, but I don't think so.
- What was your main responsability on THE 13TH WARRIOR?
- I have been a speciality location projectionist for many years. I typically set up and run dual-system location screening rooms that meet or exceed laboratory SMPTE [Society of Motion Picture Television Engineers] specifications. My services and equipment are typically very expensive and high end, so I only end up working on high budget features.
- Which cast and crew members usually assisted the dailies screenings?
- I ran the dailies for the editor, the camera crew, and other department heads as needed. John McTiernan only appeared in the screening room a handful of times. He would normally review the dailies with the editor, on the Kem, next door, at high speed, before dailies would run for the rest of the crew.
- You mean there were several screenings rooms?
- No, no. Only one screening room, but it was next door to the editorial suites.
- OK. And what is a Kem?
- A Kem is a flatbed editing machine. A modern Moviola, if you will.
- How did the dailies screenings go?
- No problems.
- Was McTiernan usually satisfied with the dailies (I mean, artistically)?
- Most of his comments I was privy to were of a technical nature...
- Didn't the producers (Ned Dowd, Michael Crichton) attend the dailies screenings too?
- Rarely, if at all.
- Have you heard about additional photography on this movie?
- I did not participate in any of the reshoots.
- They allegedly shot some "mass suicide scene" (supposed to appear at the end of the final battle), which was taken out of the final cut. Do you recall such a sequence from the dailies?
- No.
- Do you remember any other significant scenes that where not included in the movie?
- No. I am sorry, but it has been a while since this all took place and my memories are hazy at best. Besides, I have only seen the released version of the film once and so it is hard for me to compare what was shot with what was released...
- There are rumors of professional disputes between Michael Crichton and John McTiernan...
- I was not privy to much of this infighting but there are always rumors on set. I remember it was a topic of discussion, and it was no secret that there was no love between the two... But that is all I know about it.
- How did you feel about the finished/released version of THE 13TH WARRIOR?
- It came out better than I had expected. The story had many holes, as far as I could tell, and seemed pretty poorly planned, from what I could tell. I was rather suprised it ended up being even released and I thought whoever acomplished that did a remarkable job, considering all the problems.
- Were the dailies THAT bad?
- It is often very hard to tell how a film will turn out just from looking at the dailies, so I have learned to reserve judgment as a rule. But having said that, a lot of the dailies on THE 13TH WARRIOR looked rather rough to me.
- Do you think they, at one point, really considered not releasing the movie at all as an option?
- Hard to tell how the money back home was thinking. Remember, I was just a technician...


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