‘Lone Ranger’ was my Diploma film for the Royal College of Art Film School M.A. in 1968. The budget, as I recall, was 50 quid, but of course everyone worked for free. This well-worn copy was the only show print that survived after a decade of distribution in Germany. The dirt and scratches do not come from a plug-in.
The first idea for the film came out of many conversations with Pete Townshend about music and film, and his expressed interest in making a movie soundtrack. He was also thinking about ‘Tommy’ in the same period.
The idea developed in conversations with fellow students Storm Thorgerson (later founder of Hypgnosis) and David Gale (later founder of improvisational theatre group Lumière & Son). Their good friend (and thereafter mine), Matthew Scurfield, became the main actor at the urging of Storm and Dave.
We were all living in London at the height of its swingingness. But strangely, in spite of a great feeling of social change in the air, it all seemed normal to us. Looking back, it is more documentary than I thought at the time.
None of us was quite sure what we are creating. A lot was improvised during shooting, although the scenes were all written as sketches of action and location. I specialized in camerawork at the RCA and was heavily influenced by French New Wave cameramen such as Raoul Coutard and Henri Decae. “The camera is a pen.”
Amidst all this chaos, three people were key in holding it all together: Chris Morphet, the cameraman, whose friendly cynicism has trimmed my bemused pomposity since 1963, and Alfie Benge, the editor, who somehow managed to build a new genre out of this bundle of sketches. And Pete, whose music somehow ties the whole thing together.
John Pasche, who did the graphics, was also the designer of the 1970
Rolling Stones’ lips and tongue logo. So Lone Ranger is perhaps the only project to unite creative connections between The Who, Pink Floyd and the Stones.
The uncredited animation was made by Bob Alazraki (now AFC)
The board of the Film School tried to ban ‘Lone Ranger’ from a show at the British Film Institute. Thanks to the protests of my fellow students, it was reinstated. The film went on to win a Golden Hugo at the Chicago film festival, and a script prize at the Nyons Film Festival.
I have the express permission of Pete Townshend to use his music rights in Lone Ranger for this online release.