Skorpion (1983)

Concept and creative process

The brief was to intrigue and create a sense of menace. Using a Skorpion handgun, the weapon of the film's title, the camera explored its features in close up, following the movement of a tarantula spider. Filmed live action in a studio, the camera captured the menacing movement of the spider until it finally came to rest on the trigger of the gun which it appeared to be about to squeeze. An optical focus pull on the end of the scene transitioned the audience into the action of the drama itself. The sequence was designed and directed by Michael Graham-Smith and involved the attendance of a BBC Armourer for the gun and a tarantula handler from London Zoo. Two spiders were used in the sequence – neither took direction particularly well. Their movement was motivated purely by the desire to get away from the light. The interest shown by one of them in the trigger mechanism was pure serendipity, but when you work with animals of any sort, even trained ones, you have to be prepared for the unexpected.