Hitchcock/Truffaut – The Annotated Tapes

Pilot Episode – Rear Window
English translation subtitle track available

I finally made a pilot episode for a series I’ve been wanting to make for a long time. In 1962, Hitch and Truffaut met for a week long series of conversations on the art and craft of Hitch’s filmmaking. In 1966 (french version, 67 for the English one), was published a book from these lengthy conversations, augmented with pictures.

Many film students over the decades have found great value in the Hitchcock/Truffaut book, it was the first time we could read an actual master talk so openly and in such details about his process.

That said, there are significant differences between the dialog one can read in the 1966/67 book, and the original 1962 taped conversations. We realized just how much had been rearranged, polished, lost in translation, when some of the tapes were uploaded on the web around 2012 (they came from a 90s french radio series). A lot of the humor is gone, some parts that perhaps weren’t deemed politically correct were removed, some parts were added, making Hitch say things he never said.

Ever since I heard the tapes, I became convinced the ultimate way to consume these conversations would be the video format : listening to the original conversation while watching what’s being discussed in the moment.

Being french, bilingual, familiar with both directors’ work as well as the cinematography jargon they use, I thought I was as good a candidate as anyone to try an make this video series happen.

Above is my attempt at a pilot episode. It is based on the segment of the conversation where they discuss Rear Window. You’ll hear that the main issue regarding my editing is that both Hitch, Truffaut, and their translator Helen Scott, are all on the same tape.

I wanted to remove Helen’s translation from my edit for several reasons :
– replacing oral translation with two subtitles tracks to significantly cut down the duration of these videos and make them easier to digest (not having to sit through everything being said twice, in both languages)

– Helen’s translating job is decent, but you can only be so good with live translation. Live translation is very hard to get right, and Hitch doesn’t make it any easier as he just keeps talking without pausing, forcing her to talk over him. She does commit technical mistakes regularly, often when she doesn’t know a word herself, preferring to change the meaning rather than stop the flow of the conversation. The book has a lot of transcription/translation issues, but the original conversation aren’t perfect either.

My goal is to make it a series, maybe of 10 episodes for 10 selected films, each episode lasting around 15 to 20 mins long.
But I have two things to figure out before :
– my use of copyrighted material, and if there is any chance I could still fall under educational fair use.
– how to fund this project. It took me weeks just to make this one single episode : the sound editing, the research, the visual editing, the special effects. I need to find a way to make this work financially, be it Kickstarter, Patreon or something else, if I want to make this in to a whole series.

If you’re interested in the project and would like to help making it a reality, be it simply via some observations, critics or advice, I’d be happy to hear from you.