I first encountered Anthony Minghella at the peak of his first career when he was writing Inspector Morse screenplays for the producers Chris Burt and Ted Childs, writes Dennis Firminger [further to the obituary by Geoffrey Macnab, 19 March]. I was location manager for the series.
Tony Minghella approached Burt in September 1988 and asked if he could attend the set and watch the director Anthony Simmons at work, as he had no experience of a professional crew. It transpired that he had been asked to direct one of his own screenplays, Truly, Madly, Deeply, and needed the experience as he had never worked on the floor professionally. Morse was shooting in Dover at the time and Chris Burt co-opted Tony to direct the second unit for a couple of days. I was asked to assistant direct and set up the filming for him.
We spent two amusing days on windswept cliffs overlooking the port of Dover, polishing off coach drive-bys and miscellaneous pickups for Anthony Simmons. Tony admitted to me this was the first time that he had ever directed film professionally. Nine years later I watched him on the podium in Los Angeles receive his Oscar for The English Patient.