• Ravi Swami

There Can Only Be...One Book...

Updated: Oct 2



A long time in the works, Jonathan Melville's definitive look at the cult-classic fantasy film "Highlander", hits the shelves this September and it's a pleasant surprise to see that panels from storyboards I did for the climax of the film 35 years ago have been included, albeit in an accompanying booklet due to space considerations in the book itself.


My involvement in the film was relatively small and much of the credit for storyboarding on the film belongs to Joe Haidar who was drafted in at an early stage in the production, and quite rightly, he gets a lot of coverage in early chapters.


By the time I came to be involved, in mid-to-late 1985, all the principal photography had been completed and the film went into a (very short) period of post-production to create the various animated effects that reach a crescendo at the climax of the film during "The Quickening" sequence.


My association came via working for pop-video director Matt Forrest who had struck up a friendship with the director of "Highlander", Russell Mulcahy, and prior to the work on the film, we had worked together on a commercial for "Doritos" that Mulcahy had directed which was advantageous since it involved a lot of animated effects on top of live-action and optical printing, this being in the days before digital technology and computer-generated effects, ie everything was hand-drawn and art-worked.


Very early in the scramble to set up an animation facility from scratch for handling the animation, I was assigned to draw up a storyboard as a loose guide for the animation which was based on stills of "The Quickening" sequence, with suggestions as to what should happen based on quite vague directions from the director - as you will discover from the book, Mulcahy approached the film as if it was an extended pop-video in terms of film-making, with ideas popping up on the day of shooting and the animated effects were no different :)


With a punishing deadline, a team was put together very quickly and everyone worked day and night to meet the release, but by then I had left the production to work on other things, taking the original storyboard drawings with me and leaving photocopies for the animators to use as a reference - or to ignore completely - since it was a case of producing enough VFX footage to achieve the effect of the maelstrom of energy called "The Quickening", as described in the script.


Jonathan interviewed me for any recollections back in 2017 and was keen to get as much visual material as possible and the end result is a very absorbing and well-researched look at the film with many details I was unaware of at the time I worked on it.


24 / 09 / 2020



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