This week we will see the Hollywood film version of The Hunt for Osama Bin Laden in a film entitled “Zero Dark Thirty”. Now I have no problem with military action movies, after all I wrote the screenplay for one based on my first book CONTACT, but what I do have a problem with is if modern filmmakers use techniques that they say have not been used before which clearly have.

One of the techniques used in the making of CONTACT was to shoot with ‘no light’, that is to say we did not use spotlights, 10ks, 20ks, eye-lights, or any other other lights, and at night we used army surplus Image Intensifying Night Scopes attached to the front of the cameras to capture the action. Here is a still from the film.  (

As you can see this is a green image as shot through the “Night Sight”, and guess what this was 1984. We already did this for the first time in a dramatic film called CONTACT, which won the Best TV Film Award at the Locarno Film Festival the following year.

But this is what I read about the technique used in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ in a review by The Hollywood Reporter (

In his review for The Hollywood Reporter, Todd McCarthy said the sequence, with its green night-vision look and precise execution, invokes “a feeling of being suspended in time that’s unlike any equivalent climactic action sequence that comes to mind.

Todd, take a look at the above image. I suggested the use of the Image Intensifying Night Vision Scope – that I used as an Officer in the British Army on two tours in Northern Ireland – for the night sequences in the film version of my book CONTACT.

The cameraman Phillip Bonham-Carter was the only person who could see the action through the night scope, and prior to shooting, he and I spent days going through a dozen scopes to find those that were not ‘fried’ by excess light having passed through the lens. Phillip’s ability to hold the camera steady with an extra ten pounds attached to the front was truly extraordinary.

Back in 1984 this was truly avant-garde filmmaking. Nobody had ever done it before. So how come Hollywood, whether it be the filmmakers or the cronies who write their promotion material think that the technique used in ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ is unique. I have not seen the film, and am not reviewing its artistic or story telling merits, just pointing out that the Director of CONTACT – Alan Clarke, myself and Phillip Bonham-Carter did it back in 1984 based on video techniques my Battalion 3PARA used in Belfast in 1973 to document movements of terrorists at night.

(YouTube clips of the original film:

For decades Hollywood has taken credit for techniques they never created, and I for one am one pissed off creator, especially as the use of the night scope in a dramatic film was my idea back in 1984.

That’s one of the reasons “I Hate Hollywood”.