(With Your Permission, No Intermission)


In 1979 Tiny Tim sang for two hours and twenty-two minutes non-stop.
The event took place in the floating ballroom at Sydney’s Luna Park.
The cinematography is by Russell Boyd, Tom Cowan and Michael Edols.

This was one of the first attempts at a multi-cam/24 track link-up and the result is an enduring lyrical and visual tour-de-force.

A very personal documentary from the mind of Martin Sharp on the life, loves, and philosophies of the Eternal Troubadour, Mister Tiny Tim.
A musical mirror-maze of labyrinthine dimensions.

Feature documentary.
127 minutes.
16 mm.

This is the first 40 minutes of Tiny Tim's 120-minute performance in Sydney Australia, in 1979. This version was put together by me in the late 1990s on an early version of Final Cut Pro (v.2, I think). This post is made from a DVD .vob file I had laying around.

Previously I had been assembling a 16 mm workprint on a Steenbeck, a method which was laborious, to say the least, and prevented any chance of viewing the entire concert without stopping for a reel change.

Tiny, Marvin Lewis (his accompanist), and the five-piece band, The Time Machine, played non-stop for over two hours. Only Tiny knew what he was going to sing next and both Marvin and the Time Machine seldom missed a beat in keeping up with him. Tiny covered 120 songs in this time. He favoured songs from the thirties and forties, particularly songs covered by those singers he most admired. People like Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor both of whom sang in the tenor range that Tiny was most adept in.

The counter at the bottom of the frame is a record of Tiny's performance time. Two minutes in from the start we see the emcee set the digital clock to 12:00. There is also a conventional analogue clock displaying minutes and seconds. Apart from timekeeping Tiny's performance, the two clocks, along with a flashing light, are the method that was used to synchronise the three film cameras with the 24-track audio recorder.

The method was not one hundred per cent successful and there were many problems with the film not running synchronously with the audio. My suspicion was that there was some confusion amongst the camera operators about the frame rate. Martin was never sure if they were shooting 25 frames per second or 24 frames per second.

Often, the camera operators would forget to film the flashing light. They would either not film it, or film it after they had stopped recording; they would then turn the camera back on to film the light but that made the process unsuccessful. There was also an additional problem with the audio synchronisation because somewhere during the process the pilot tone (an audio signal regulating the multitrack motor to the camera frame rate) was eliminated.

Over the years other technical problems prevented the film from being completed. The original 24-track master recording was recycled and not all of the backup tapes survived. The audio throughout the concert varies considerably. Sometimes there was an audience atmosphere track available, sometimes a two-track stereo source, and at other times only a mono mixdown of Tiny and the orchestra survived.