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Brian Tufano on Trainspotting

Watch this video where cinematographer Brian Tufano explains how Trainspotting's famous toilet scene was made.
The one thing that comes to mind is the toilet scene from Trainspotting, which looks to be quite complicated, when in fact it’s a double toiliet– well, it is the toilet scene, basically. But in fact was quite easy to shoot once you’d sat down again and had been inventive about it. In John’s script, of course, and with Danny’s imagination, Ewan fiendishly goes down the toilet to find the suppository that’s got the hit in it. A lot of folks didn’t get how we could do it because we didn’t have a lot of money budget wise.
And so working very closely with Kave Quinn, the production designer, and the props guys, we ended up cutting a toilet in half, putting a wooden shoot behind it. And then using that and a combination of an art technique, or trompe l’oeil, and the right positioning of the camera, we made it look as though Ewan was going down the toilet. And then I suggested to Danny that as Ewan’s feet were going down, if you just twisted them, that people might think he’d just gone round the bend in the toilet. And then, of course, he ends up in what appears to be a beautiful lagoon, which was a swimming pool in Glasgow, basically.
And that was it, basically– very simple in the end, but it worked very effectively. People still talk about it. At the end of the day, if you see somebody going head first down a toilet, it’s bound to stick in the memory somehow.

Brain Tufano explains one of the most memorable scenes in cinema from Trainspotting (1996).

He mentions the art technique trompe l’oeil in which, according to wikipedia: “realistic imagery is used to create the optical illusion that the depicted objects exist in three dimensions”.

Did anything surprise you about Brian Tufano’s explanation?

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