I encountered Yul Brynner when making my second ever documentary The Festival Game about the 1969 Cannes Film Festival. We were a team of just three and I was the youngest at 19. We were filming day and night on 16mm and it was clear we were going to run out of our 7254 Kodak stock if memory serves. We ordered further film from their Paris HQ. It arrived with one day to spare. We opened the first box to discover they’d incorrectly sent us 5254 stock which was 35mm and obviously too big for our two 16mm camera.
There was nothing for it but for me and my visiting brother in law Jonas to drive to Paris and back in 24 hours. I think it’s about 1,200 kilometres or 700 miles and we stopped for nothing except petrol and a rolling. Stop to pick up the stock. We got back to Cannes and I rejoined Mike Lytton and cameraman Austen Parkinson straight into that evening’s shoot at a club with Omar Sharif followed by an attempt to film an interview with Yul Brenner l.
As great as Omar Sharif was Brenner was a total opposite and he was menacing towards my team. I think he’d had a drink or two too many. I had a Sun Gun light in my hand and I threatened to dent his head if he persisted with his attitude and we managed to extricate ourselves with some decent footage. I should add that after that night my team let me sleep through the entire next day.