Spring 2015

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20 CINEMONTAGE / SPRING 2015 CONTINUED ON PAGE 79 with the camera," said the mixer. Cashin built the portable 8-track sound console to run on batteries. The last part of the California Split shoot was the system's dry run before starting Nashville. Webb also devised for the Nashville shoot a means to record telephone conversations on set in real time without the off-camera dialogue overlaps leaking into the on-camera dialogue. With a $2 million budget, Altman wanted to shoot Nashville like a documentary with a small crew. From July through early September, 1974, Webb said, "We shot the movie at a dead run in eight weeks…we were flying." During production, Richard Nixon resigned as US President. To economize, Altman asked his actors and fledgling music supervisor, Richard Baskin, to provide original songs for the movie. The director didn't "want to buy a lot of songs that were tried and tested when I was satirizing them." He got what he wanted — a cross-section of country music, good and bad. Keith Carradine's song, "I'm Easy," won the Oscar for Best Song. In town singing backup, Ronee Blakley heard Altman was buying songs and she sold him four of her compositions. When Susan Anspach wanted more money to play the Loretta Lynn-like character Barbara Jean, the director gave the part to Blakley. With a riveting "star" portrayal, the first-time actress was also nominated for the Supporting Actress Oscar. To prepare the actors, assistant director — and soon-to-be writer/ director of Welcome to L.A. (1976) — Alan Rudolph boiled down the script to a running blueprint of characters' stories and actions. With input from Tewkesbury, the director told his cast to write their own dialogue from scene to scene, "paraphrasing more than improvising." During filming, however, he could change what they wrote on the spot. Local people were brought in as audiences for the filmed musical performances. "We create an event and then we cover it as though it were actually happening," explained Altman. The audiences, and sometimes the actors, did not know what would happen during a performance. Blakley and the director knew Barbara Jean would have a breakdown on the outdoor Opry Belle stage, but it came as a surprise to everyone else. Altman shot it four times with two cameras running and got the natural reactions he wanted. Creating a tight production team was also crucial for the director. Working up from apprentice and assistant editor to editor for Altman, Dennis Hill told CineMontage that the filmmaker created the "same kind of camaraderie I experienced when I served in the military." Maysie Hoy, ACE, who co-edited Altman's The Player (1992), was a production assistant and actor on Nashville. She recalled, "We built a community among the cast and crew. Everybody was on the call sheet in case we might need someone in a scene; Bob planted seeds in scenes for later. It was mandatory for everyone to go to dailies. We had a really good time." Not everyone had a good time, though. Barbara Harris hated watching herself on film and refused to attend dailies, earning the director's disfavor. Altman wanted Lou Lombardo to edit, as he had on the director's last five films. They first worked together on industrials in Kansas City, but the editor was off directing his first feature. Webb recommended Sid Levin, ACE, with whom he worked on rock films. Having also edited Martin Ritt's Sounder (1972) and Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets (1973), Levin was hired. Lombardo's son, assistant editor Tony Lombardo, ran the location editing room, syncing and projecting dailies. He coded the material and sent it to Levin and assistant editor Hill in Los Angeles. All the music in the film was recorded live on set. Music supervisor Baskin (who also played a musician) picked the best musical take from each scene. Lombardo said, "We'd have to cut the picture Nashville. Paramount Pictures/ Photofest THIS QUARTER IN FILM HISTORY

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