Stephen Peet 0:00
This is Alan Izod Izod. I ZO D being interviewed by Steven Peet , the copyright of this recording is vested in the ACTT History Project. And this is tape one, side one. And the date is June 11. 1998.
Where were you born and when ?
Alan Izod 0:46
I was born in Putney registered in Wandsworth which I think was Putney district I assume on the fourth of May 1908.
Stephen Peet 0:57
Now, what kind of family did you come from? Were were your parents, professional people? What kind of family?
Alan Izod 1:08
My father was, as described in various ways on the birth certificates of the four children in the family as naval pensioner, amongst other things, I forgotten what the others were. And my mother was the daughter of a country family in Scotland who subsequently came down to England to live with a brother who had taken up a farm near Leamington Lemington Spa. So we're a normal middle class family.
Stephen Peet 1:48
So how many were you there were several in the family? .
Alan Izod 1:51
Yes, there's four of us. All alive at this time. The elder brother now 82. He's in Australia. Then there's one who's a year younger than me is just coming up to 79 also in Australia, and a sister who lives out near Hereford who was a year younger than him. She's coming up to 78.
Stephen Peet 2:18
Now, I believe you had a step father. This is not the man you're referring to in the birth certificate. He was away a lot.
Alan Izod 2:27
Yes, I don't recall my own father at all, not even in the in the haziest way. And I always remember my stepfather as my father. And he is a man who has fairly colourful past he was. I have a letter written by the captain of the Windjammer which he was serving as third mate at the time, saying that he'd been put ashore in hospital in Manila, as a result of being severely damaged in a heavy storm. He, that, in fact, did force him to retire from the sea. And subsequently, by what steps I don't know, he became a brewer. And from the earliest time that I remember him, he was head Brewer at Meux's Brewery Limited in in London, which was practically on the site where the British Film Institute later was in in the corner of great Russell Street. And I think this site was sold way back in the 20s. The Dominion Cinema, for instance, and the Horseshoe pub, are all built on that site where the brewery used to be when I first remember it.
Stephen Peet 3:48
So your first schools where there were quite a number of schools when they didn't you go very young age to a boarding school.
Alan Izod 3:58
Yes, I went, I went to boarding school, I think before I was five years old. As really, as a companion to my older brother, who was then nearly seven. And we were sent to school in West cliff, you know, just near Southend in Essex. And so that was that my first school that actually lasted until about the middle of the First World War. And then we were we were moved away from there because this was the route in which these Zeppelins are one of the routes that the Zeppelins used to use in in a raid on England. And of course these caused great alarm that was probably rather laughable in view of what happened in the Second World War. But so we're probably moved and we were moved down to the school in Godalming and that was the Godalming Grammar School. By then, of course, my younger brother was also with us. So there were three of us at school. And we were in the old, traditional private schools called major, minor and tertius. So I was as a minor, but most of my school.
Stephen Peet 5:14
So it wasn't kind of normal grammar school education. And were you expecting to leave it about what 14, 15?
Alan Izod 5:24
No, it is. This particular school, I think, took boys up to the age of 16, in what they call the naval and military course. In other words, as at which time I got one could then set for entrance to either the Navy or the, or the Army. And, in fact, my brother left when he was 16. But he didn't go into other services, he went as an apprentice, my older brother, as an apprentice in a, an engineering firm, a transport firm. And I was I was going on until I was 16. With the future in doubt, I mean, with no plans at all for the future. And it was at that time, then I must have been about 15, just after I was 15. That father, obviously given a great deal of thought to this. And remember, this was in 1923, at the time, and the first great what was the word?
Stephen Peet 6:28
depression. He was Yes,
Alan Izod 6:30
recession was developing, developing fast, who said that he he that he couldn't see his way, obviously just putting us through public school and university. He couldn't afford that. And so he thought that the future didn't show a great deal of promise for us in Britain. And what did we think about how we like to emigrate to Australia? Now, the background to this idea of emigrating to Australia, I think, is in two parts. One, his own background, which was a man who had spent so much of his years travelling and moving around, and thought that seeing the world was, was a great thing for a man anyway. And the other strand of it was that during the war, and particularly towards the end of it in 1918, we got to know a great many Australians who were in the Australian forces, and we're at the time being put up in the YMCA, which was just down the road from us in Great Russell Street. And we'd made so many contexts that he felt there was that if we were to go to Australia, we would be amongst friends, we wouldn't be entirely without someone to appeal to or someone to to help us. Well, as you can imagine, as youngsters we were quite taken with the idea of my own case leaving school. And my brother's leaving his apprenticeship and going overseas and starting starting life there. Knowing practically nothing about it, of course at all.
Stephen Peet 8:14
So what did you travel together with it with five pounds in your pocket and
Alan Izod 8:20
Not quite as much as that the Father gives us a an on a a, an immigration scheme was being run by the Australian Government called the Dreadnought scheme. This gave obviously a reduced passage, you probably cost about 15 or 16 pounds each, I think fully for the passage, it was six weeks passage to Australia. And it guaranteed up to six months training at a government farm and a job at the end of that. So obviously, there was a there was you know, this was a reasonably reliable thing to go in. And so when was it in November 1923.elder brother and I, we were off and we were given a pound each, which was costless, tremendous riches to us. as we as we left England with the assurance that there was another pound waiting for us at the other end, when we when we arrived in Sydney, which indeed happened. I don't recall a great deal about about the voyage. It was obviously a very long and very slow arm around the cape and across the Indian Ocean. I think we just just enjoyed it. I mean, we're both quite young boys. And, and we went sort of hop from Albany and West Australia search around to Adelaide and Melbourne and eventually finished up in Sydney, where we were met by one of the men who had been befriended by my parents in Australia and who was A very high up man in customs and the customs department. Often family will get pleasure Oh, he simply waved to someone to bring out tracks and not to bother with all the formalities. And we had great cabin trunks each full of the most likely clothing for Australia. So based on what a farm labourer in England would would wear I think, and remember, this is crosses into a lot of joking when we first started work there.
Stephen Peet 10:34
So you worked on it, a series of farms Did you after that, or did you just stay all the time in one place?
Alan Izod 10:42
No, I made one major move when I've towards the end of the training at this government farm which was which was a good very simple training and he was really sort of familiarisation This is a horse This is a cultivator This is a plough. If you get on this horse, you do so and so and so and so and then discharged into it into into a job within the six months. And they found me a job on a small farm in the in the local district of Glen Innes that was in the north of New South Wales. And I think it was about 200 acre farm and it grew a bit of this and a bit of that and, and, and, and that was owned by a man who is an ex miner who has a very tough character very hard and consequently laugh for me was very hard because he expected me to keep up with him. He loves you still under 16 I think when I started that job I was had to work with men and and you know, do the same work as they did keep up with them. And it happened that they had very heavy crops. And it was it was pretty tough. breaking in, I worked for him for about a couple of years I think and then decided that I would go down to where real Australian friends were which was done in the wheat belt about three or 400 miles away at a place called westward on. And they had large Well, what seems to be a very large ranch for about two and a half 1000 acres between them. Mainly grain wheat and some wool. And I went out got in touch with them. And they said well, they didn't have any work for me, but they'd find me a job. And they did and the neighbouring farm, I got a pretty rough breaking in there. I remember, you know, I been looked after reasonably well living in the house and my first alarm very humbled place in the house in my first month I found you know, I was given a sheepskin for fairly recently killed sheep shown and shown to the barn. And that was my introduction to my new job. However, even at that age was pretty resilient and will take on anything. And I worked for that these two young men a little older than myself who had been bought this is very large ranch in quite new country. So we were breaking in new country all the time. I think they had about 3000 acres. And that was very interesting. And it my memories of that I was in a party of the work the hard work and the things but also of the the fact that the two boys and the cook after meals in the evening we were settled down became a quartet and one of the core players who play the ukulele and they still remember this pleasure we had a simple way after a year or so with them I asked fro a rise and they refused to give me one. So meantime being in touch with the man next door now the young fella next door. And so all I had to do to change my job was to walk off with my suitcase and lifted over the fence and follow it. And I stayed with him just for a few months after which our Australian friends then got in touch with me and said that the brother of the man that we'd known well in England is said that he wanted someone to work on his farm would I like to come and I did and I worked for him for the rest of my time. In Australia five or more years, I think
Stephen Peet 14:37
Did you did you get paid well or is it many you just did it for your keep?
Alan Izod 14:41
When I first started over so I was paid a pound a week that was the sort of standard starting wage. But of course the top wage for a fully qualified labour that is best an experienced farm worker was only I think it was two pounds. 15 a week Australian money and I achieved that but I was at the matrons, Farm, Maitland, France alphabet. So it was a remarkable character that we'd met in London, who had been the he was a very fine looking man had been the model for the official portrait by George Lambert of Australian light horsemen. And we'd got to know him quite well in in, in London, and he was out the main contact, he's always kept in touch with my parents, right, all right till livers died. And it's a very interesting thing that I think that when we when, when Oliver and I went back to Australia in 1966, we went to see, to show her where I'd worked and so on without any expectation of meeting these people, and they were still there in the film, and when we stayed with them, and it was a source of great soldiers. This was a man who I got to love and respect, I suppose in place of a father, really, as we were so far away from him. He was an absolutely upright man. And he saw life as being lived on a quite narrow path. And to deviate from this path as a right or left was, was was was wrong, who didn't do that? And that was his great expression. Now you don't do that sort of thing. And I was, I don't know how much of it stuck. But I always remember being feeling very influenced by this right throughout my life. The honesty and the straightforwardness of this verse, man,
Stephen Peet 16:42
you say, You're influenced by him? What about your elder brother and your younger brother had today? Go to Australia, UK?
Alan Izod 16:50
Yes. My younger brother followed followed us after three years. And I heard quite recently from my sister that the parents wanted him to get a job in London, he said not likely he was going to join his brothers. And so he came on. Let me see, he would be about 17. I suppose when he when he joined us, he also came in the same way he came to a government farm place called cara, and then found a job, I found a job for him, near me, so we were in touch from then on. But my elder brother, he had got a job in the north and the Queensland border. When he finished his training at the experiment, firm, government firm. And we didn't meet again until just before I left Australia, when he came down. For family discussions, the three of us met for the first notice family discussions were caused by the fact that parents had sent out an SOS I think they were feeling they were getting on and and left would be lonely if they didn't have a son around and they should have someone to help them and had asked if one of us would come home. So we had we really met at that stage to discuss that. And it was decided that I was the one that had had the funds to do it. And so I would go back to do and to visit them anywhere. Now, this having funds was an interesting thing, because I had been paid for three or four years, the top rate in theory, but in fact, the last two years, we're in a very serious agricultural depression. Later, it became a nationwide depression when wheat was almost unsaleable. I think that count that later. And the last two years that I worked on that farm, the farmer didn't have any money to speak of at all. It just what he could get the banks to lend him. And so I worked just for pocket money, plus a share of the crop 5% or something like that. And so each of these two years, I got a certificate for so many bushels of wheat in the, in the local silos. And in fact, I had a very large quantity of wheat as you can imagine, because it was so loved one and six months, I think, a bush or something of that sort. And I got about 500 pounds. I think that's the end of it. So I had the money to make the to make the journey and it was in March. Yes in March 1932 as I returned to England,
Stephen Peet 19:54
so you you are well enough set up to make the journey and And bit of money to spare to set yourself up in England, if you wanted to get a job. Did you? Did you manage to get a job back?
Unknown Speaker 20:07
Yes, I hadn't envisaged that, you know, I was coming back to England on a visit really, just to see what the situation was and to, you know, to stay with my parents for a while, and expect him to return to Australia. And it was never in my thoughts that I was in, settled back in England again. But in fact, my parents brought up quite a lot of pressure on me to stay. And I think by then I had grown to enjoy living in England, living in London and having girlfriends in London. And so a great deal far removed from the family life I'd been living in Australia, I can tell you, where you were very lucky if you could be one that lined up for a girlfriend and the country districts. And I, and I decided to stay and I looked for a job. And in a rather naive way, I thought, well, you know, anything to do with electricity must have some future and and so I would take a job with an electrical firm. And I did this and this was a small company that was specialising in electrical installations. In fact, they were rewiring, they were putting wiring into many of the small terraced houses in Dulwich at the time and I worked for them.
Stephen Peet 21:29
Did you have any any training to do this? How did you learn on the job,
Alan Izod 21:32
I was literally apprenticed on the job, I the way into this was to put down some money and as shares in the in the in the company in return for which I will get a years training. So in fact, virtually, I was using my own money for a year at a small salary, and as I say, repaid me four pounds a week, I think it was and taught me the trade that consisted of putting me with an experienced man as his as his mate. And picking it up from him. Did that for a year then then firm, firm went the way of lots of small firms do it went broke, it couldn't. It couldn't make the job pay. And so the man I was working with and I decided we'd have a go ourselves full of confidence that we knew all about the job. He hadn't been in fact, he was a very good experience, man. And so we set up we got one, two jobs, which we did. And I think that lasted about a year. And then we ran out of work. In other words, we weren't as good at getting the work as we weren't doing the job once we got it. And we went our ways. This time, I then saw a job advertised as an electrician in a small film studio called the Q studios in Marylebone.being invited to subscribe. Some shares in the company. This were comparatively small amounts. I mean, there were 250,000 each case, I think, who ran this this was a man called Quelch Q for Quelch.
Stephen Peet 23:19
Alan Izod 23:22
Yes. And he he ran it as in I had a small company running the studio, which was in fact converted a church just near the corners of marylebone road and Edgware Road and was used by all sorts of small filmmakers making small these trailers as they call them, the commercials of the time, the cinemas, and so on
Stephen Peet 23:52
did so this really was your first connection with films by the chance of getting a job as an electrician. Were you interested in film before that can't remember?
Unknown Speaker 24:03
No, I wasn't particularly interested except as a member in public. I loved seeing films but I didn't have any thoughts at all. I think the early part of my life was characterised by lack of thought about almost anything else I can see looking back back is for thought anyway. And I took this out simply as an interesting job for an electrician you know, I was an electrician I knew about that. And I thought this would be an interesting way. But of course as soon as I started working in the film studio, I was fascinated by that the the process of the making of films and I then quite deliberately worked my way down from the spot rail to the to the floor, and then to the the hanger on it was peered over people's shoulders and
Stephen Peet 24:54
Did any interesting people. You remember any people who came to us the studio
Alan Izod 25:00
Yes,I do. Because there was a strong connection between this and what I subsequently did. I think the most interesting people were Gaumont British instructional, was down, headed up by Bruce Wolf, remember, and he knew that he had no studio of his own at the time and used to use Q studios. Quite a lot for work of all sorts on their secret Marriott merryfield, in particular, with his secrets of life seriously as to you use it all sort of insert work that they were doing in studios, and
Stephen Peet 25:44
Didn't they have their own studios or animation place in Letchworth or Welwyn or somewhere like that, or was that another group?
Alan Izod 25:52
No, I think what they had there, in fact, isn't done. They actually have Sidney Smith working there in his own place, making the secrets of life forms, you know, the development of plants, and so are the time lapse photography. Yes, photography, but I don't recall whether GBI had any stake themselves. They were of course preparing the studios and offices in Cleveland Street, just around the corner from the Middlesex Hospital. And it was I think, just about the time that they moved into that that I joined them, I persuaded them to give me a job as a as an assistant director. Because I I'm, I don't think I've worked for them at all before that. It was when they started at Cleveland street that they went to work for them. Bruce wolf gave me a job. By now I was getting a fiver a week, I think, from him. And my first job with them was as an assistant director to man called Dallas Bower , who was a highly experimental character man who liked to play around. We made a film at the Teddington National Physical Laboratories and one of the things we did was the see the windmill on which they test out models of air aircraft and I remember being cut fascinated by Dallas Bower's way of dealing with this
Stephen Peet 27:29
Windmill, or a wind tunnel?
Alan Izod 27:31
No, it's it's, it's it's neither. It's a revolving, it's a revolving arm. revolving horizontally, I would describe that. Well, it simply is that a long arm, which would have the model aircraft at the end of it, and this was taken around in a circle. And this will be for actual testing, performances on types of things that they couldn't do it in a wind tunnel. And of course, he saw this as a great opportunity of shooting it from different angles, and then cutting them together. And, and he did this, working down from 16 frames into cuts to eight frames right down to a single frame into cut, which gave a flutter effect on the screen. It had no meaning at all, it was fascinating to do. And that was his sort of mind. So it was very interesting man to work for. But then the next job.
Stephen Peet 28:34
Do you remember any other films? You worked with him?
Alan Izod 28:36
No, that was the only one because I went straight on from him. I've worked on the cutting room with him. And that was my first experience of working in a cutting room so and my first experience of working in a cutting room and was was on help helping him really just handy little bits of film. And splicing together these these work he was doing. Then I was put on to a film as an assistant director Paul Rotha as when I first met Paul Making Shipyards.
Stephen Peet 29:14
That was the title of the film ? When was that in the middle 30s?
Unknown Speaker 29:19
That must have been 35 1935 I think. Yes. And from that I work purely as as an assistant. I didn't have to do the cutting. And I was after that I went on with jack Holmes JB Holmes on a film called cold mind i think i think it was subsequently go face. I think co face was a different film. We had to we is the title we wanted but it's already been bagged. And so I think it was subsequently called coal from coal mine which was a very interesting Because we all know we all went underground and worked underground. We became miners, in fact for a couple of weeks, and it was a great experience was great people.
Stephen Peet 30:11
So you were still working as an assistant was Bruce Wolf. He continued to be the managing director and producer.
Unknown Speaker 30:20
Yes, Bruce was so old there all the time I was there. Bruce Wolfe was the managing director of Jeff GBI. And of course, I don't think that people like Holmes and Rotha were permanently employed permanently. They weren't on the staff with GBI. But they were, they were given work by GBI as they got films as they brought in ideas, films or succeeded in getting films. Then they were given films to make by Bruce Wolfe. In addition to that, there was a few other people that used to use the facilities of GBI, which were quite good. They had set up a very good at the time modern facilities, particularly in the cutting rooms and the theatre and the recording at Cleveland strip.
Stephen Peet 31:14
Did you were you working with sync sound, for instance, down the line or was it all added sound added later, you recall? Because it usual to work with sync.
Alan Izod 31:27
No it was all silent shooting how that and that and what we were doing was composing tracks back in the in the studio with, you know, all sorts of artifices that we be used at the time , water in a tin bath and peas into a backup, you name it, whatever there was, no one used every possible way of making soundtracks except to pre producing the real thing.
Stephen Peet 31:59
Now, what about Mary Field? Didn't she give you some kind of chance was it was it with her that you did your first bit of editing?
Alan Izod 32:07
Yes, the first editing job I was actually given to do was to work as an assistant to Merrifield again, initially, in a humble way or just as a casting assistant. But Mary Field was a great one for delegating work. She did love to get other people working. Say it wasn't very long before I was finding that finding that I was able to get on to the actual editing under her direction, of course, but to play have a much greater partner. And I really found that this seemed at the time to be my metier was editing. I loved it totally enjoyed it. And we had a good team of people. There, a number of other editors I worked alongside one of them I remember well, and with affection was man called Derek had chambers. And Derek became quite a well known editor he worked on and on in the business until he died only a few years ago after we had returned to England, which is in the in the late 60s. Anyway. As you were asking about makings about soundtracks, I will remember my first job in making a soundtrack was in fact, post sinking the the sound to a film about the Farn islands which had millions of birds in it and they got a
Mary Field got a man called Imito to come along and imitate the sounds of a different species.
Stephen Peet 33:35
Was that his professional name? Did he do it on the stage?
Alan Izod 33:38
Yes, he did it on the stage he could imitate anything and anything I-M-I-T-O and he gave an eye and she would say it showing a picture and say now that such and such a Guillemot. So presumably she had sent him away so listen to these things at sometime because he would then produce the sound of the bird and so he would make a series of recordings of bird cries of each of the seven species I think it was we had in the film. And so there was with a soundtrack which is, which then had to be dubbed on big six as I call it to all the birds and the thing and multiplied for background. And remember, in those days, we had none of the modern facilities of magnetic recording. In other words of being able to reproduce and dab things without any serious loss of of quality. It was all done on optical film. And with every transfer into optical film there was very serious muscle quality and increase a background sound. So the end result was nothing like the quality well we get today using magnetic means. But in fact we develop the craft in exactly the way that is used today because now the work but much more laborious Lee
Stephen Peet 35:00
But when you did your dad, were you able to dub with many tracks at once?
Alan Izod 35:09
I think about the maximum that was known in those days was about four tracks. Remember, they all have had to be full optical heads the same as you had on every projector, it's 35 millimetre film. And I think that yes, I'm sure in fact that we had three heads plus the projector. In other words, we could handle four tracks. Some of this was done was making up loops, obviously, you'd have one channel where you didn't want actual synchronisation, just background, you'd have a loop going round and round reproducing.
Stephen Peet 35:44
So you've got to get him up and making its noise every four and a half seconds everywhere.
Alan Izod 35:50
That's no depth you had to use, you could only use it if you're mixing it in with many other tracks, obviously. Otherwise, you pick up the sort of repeat.
Stephen Peet 36:03
So you got to know during this time quite a lot of documentary people. Were there people who came there to the studio, or did you meet them elsewhere? Because it was a quite a small select band. And
Alan Izod 36:17
yes, it was. I met them most of them initially at that at that studio, I think and such, so those are mentioned and people like john Taylor. So um, they were they were some of them were running their own companies outside or doing things like working for what's it called? realist. realist was john Taylor is associated realist Film Unit. Donald Alexander, who became the producer of the coal mine Yuan dico, British coal unit called the coal board. It wasn't called that initially. And, but not only when didn't only meet at work, but when met socially at the pub around the corner in, down and so her. And so her, of course, was the was where the GPO Film Unit worked. And a lot of the documentary produced the time work. They're all associated with them. So that was the sort of focal point,
Stephen Peet 37:26
the Highlander. Yeah. And that there used to be regular weekly shows at the GPF
Alan Izod 37:33
in the evenings. Yes, it is. It is, indeed, I didn't ever meet john john Grierson. At that time, it was famous later on love because I'd learned about him, I suppose came under his influence to some extent. It was many, many years later that I first met him first met john Grierson in Africa, in fact.
Stephen Peet 37:54
So you were working there now as an editor?
Yes. And this was
in the late 30s. It was 3637, something like that. But you didn't go on until the beginning of the war at GB GB I did. What was your next job? And I think, how did you come to an end
Alan Izod 38:18
to go up pretty much the same as my farming career. So I asked for a rise and bruceville wouldn't get me when. In fact, I think I got the sack instead. That was the end of 1936. I got a job with with ETS, what was ETS educational in general services, which was run by a man called commander JLF. And who was the man who provided all the programmes for the Navy ships, which he did in association with a firm called sessile, Cattermole limited.
Stephen Peet 39:03
Do you mean by programmes? feature films for entertainment on the ships?
Alan Izod 39:07
Yes, that's that's it?
Stephen Peet 39:09
We're just a matter of interest with the been nitrate films onboard a ship or were they? Because they wouldn't have been anything other than nitrogen? 35. Do you happen to remember?
Alan Izod 39:21
Oh, yes, indeed, they were, they were 35 millimetre. So there must have been nitrate. But then remember, ship is extremely well equipped to cope with no tricks. Basically, what it uses to fire it shells with so we know they wouldn't have any special hardware for ship. But yes, it. I think I'm right in saying that. The non flam film wasn't really in general use until very much later on 35 millimetre. It was always thought to have a much poorer quality because the base was so much thicker than the nitrate. It was only used as In the amateur film in in 16, millimetre, eight millimetre, and so on for many, many years now the commander hand had got secured the right to make a film for the Navy recruiting film, based on the meeting of the home and Mediterranean fleets. And in early 1937 March, I think I went off with the home fleet with two cameramen to film, that side of the manoeuvres, and two more cameramen have been sent out to Malta to join the Mediterranean Fleet to show the other side of the story. And we were to make a film about about the manoeuvres it was over I suppose one was, in a sense was directing the film in fact, it was worth more than telling the cameraman what what to cover because it was essentially a matter of picking up what was being by Frank could have a mock battle being fought between the two fleets. In other words, it wasn't possible to stage anything. except possibly after it was all over to do shots of gun crews working and so on. So it was really an exercise in in covering a happening, but
Stephen Peet 0:06
Tape one side. Two, at the the minute. starting again, on tape one and side two, we would the end of the other side of this tape for talking about the travel and Industrial Development Association, time tida Film Unit where Marian Greyson was I think producer, or whatever title she had to remember the other people working there Margaret Thompson, who was a film editor there are other you editing mentioned your service editing, as you maybe is your was your assistant? I'm not sure,
Alan Izod 0:59
yes, I think we worked. We work together I don't think she was actually my assistant I think we both worked.
Stephen Peet 1:05
And Frank Bundy, cameraman and was General of the body and office by and that's how I remember these things going on. But I don't remember much what work was being done by this film unit except a film of Marian Greyson called around the village green, which was to really start life in an English Village.
Alan Izod 1:27
I'm not very clear in my mind about about developments. So that says I think that I was mainly concerned right through with the making of foreign versions, which we we made them in seven or eight different languages. And this became very interesting job, especially as I didn't speak any other languages myself, it was a strange how one developed a sort of feeling for for other languages, and we could even pick out fluffs in Arabic, and check with a commentator and find that one was correct. And they had fluffed
Stephen Peet 2:03
ebooks as they were films just with music, track and commentary.
Alan Izod 2:07
And yes, we would usually be able to persuade whoever were the makers of the film, to let us have a what was called a lavender print in those days, plus a music track. And we would then construct a new music track, make a dupe negative and make our own complete version. And this was I think, was was quite successful. And it's where now the next thing I remember is that we were, we became a part of the film department of the British Council. I'm not too sure how this
Stephen Peet 2:38
was outbreak of war,
Alan Izod 2:40
at the outbreak of war was when it happened. Yes, we all transferred over as the film department of the British Council. And we worked under them on very much the same lines at the time I was there. I stayed on with that it
Stephen Peet 2:58
was just one one memory I have of that. Because I was there for a first few months at the war, the British Council film department and that was a catalogue being rewritten. Of all the British Council films available for sending overseas or using embassies. And there was a young man brought in to write the the short couple of paragraph descriptions of films called Richard Mason later went on to win fame and fortune making the
Alan Izod 3:33
Wind cannot read
Stephen Peet 3:35
That was his first job.
Alan Izod 3:37
Yes, he is rather it was interesting. We and we kept in touch with him for a while. I mean, Alice and I and then we we lost touch. He he I didn't don't think had anything like the success with his later books that he had where they were This is
Stephen Peet 3:57
more or less lived for years on the success of his first book because it was published in about 20 languages.
Alan Izod 4:03
Yes, yes. Yes, that's right. And I worked there in the British Council film department. Family under a man called Neville Kearny, who was brought in as the first full director of the film department, Neville Kearney was a man with a very strong Wardor street background working in some of the big companies and in Wardour Street. But in September of that year, I was approached by john hunt, who was then working in the Admiralty had been called back obviously as September 4041. September 41. Yes, yes. And approached by him to take on the or to apply for the post of producer of the of the naval Film Unit, a small unit to set up in Portsmouth to make training films. This had been initially had during the war had been run by a very promising young director of feature films at Ealingcalled Penn Tennyson. And Penn unfortunately got himself killed and his aeroplane crashed into a hillside in Scotland.
Stephen Peet 5:20
And so, that was Nola Pilgrim's first husband was there Tennison etc.
Alan Izod 5:28
And so them by them, I was really very keen to get into uniform and was glad to have this this opportunity into it I was appointed as a sub leftenant acting temporary probationary sub left and RNVR and sent off to Greenwich for a so called knife and fork course gentlemen as well as an officer and had a very pleasant and interesting three or four weeks there. By then, on the family side of the coast, john has been been born in in March 1940, by which time and an expectation of his arrival we had gone to live in the country down at Shepperton and I have a delightful little old, ancient cottage called the little cottage in shepparton. alongside a farm we got to know the farm people very well. The Melville's they became great friends and most of their time is often spent working on their on the farm making use of the expertise I gathered in Australia years before and then in we've soon found as this little cottage was indeed that much little for us and we moved to New cottage in in Chertsey and Bridge Road Chertsey not far north of the, of the bridge. We're in delightful little Georgian house that we lived in, right through until about 1946 I think the rental of about 25 shillings a week I believe I remember when you say
Stephen Peet 7:25
you lived in it didn't to work full time was in Portsmouth when you're working.
Alan Izod 7:30
tes taht's right, Joel was born in there in March 1941. And by the and then it was later that year as I said that I went to work for the in the Navy for the naval Film Unit. And it was based in a place called Tipner It was a rifle range just outside of Portsmouth and it had quiet meagre facilities if you few huts in fact, I was all and only two or three personnel. These were I think trying to remember whether I think they were mostly people who had worked in the in the Fleet Air Arm photographic section but as as sailors, and at that time, Penn Tennyson was just when just before he died, he had started to rake in people through his contacts in the Fleet Air Arm who were being called up or who were joining, because everybody who had any film or photographic background was automatically sent down to Ford, the Royal Naval photographic school at Ford which was near Chichester. And through his contacts then we learn to have any people from the film world come in who might might become available to us
Stephen Peet 9:14
that include the continuity girls and others who
Alan Izod 9:18
are friends. Oh yes it did indeed. We had one or two continuity girls I remember well this was ever someone who came to work chris Hazel Wilkinson in some very well known continuity. Go and and on the camera side. Gordon Gordon Dines who was was the How do you spell his name? Is
Stephen Peet 9:45
it d y
Alan Izod 9:46
nos ti n e. s. And Gordon was the lighting cameraman from Ealing studios who was who was really a very great professional. This is interesting because I think To some extent, there was there was a slight tug of war in the naval Film Unit. My own background was almost entirely instructional and educational and this was my natural bent I think this is what I was interested in was, was was training and teaching by film. But of course, a lot of the people who are getting in including later on directors such as john paddy carstairs, were really totally interested in, in prevailing inflammation through the feature film. So it was a slight sort of tug of wars between methods of dealing with
Stephen Peet 10:38
the whole thing was training films for the Navy when they weren't for theatrical use any of these
Alan Izod 10:46
it was purely and simply at that time the training films for the Navy how to do this how to do that I think our first film was how to up anchor and then we got a cost because of the fact that we were so close to the Gunnery school HMS excellent when we got very involved in in gunner ry films, gun drills or how to you know how to operate the guns and so on.
Stephen Peet 11:11
Where all these films The training ones, and the other ones made in black and white or did you have any connection with colour? No,
Alan Izod 11:19
no, not at all. It was all in black and white and ran through from beginning to end. Now, of course, the Navy at the same time was having a film was made through the commercial producers and in particular by technicolour and technicolour. Of course, they can film their films in colour, but they did very much more than just make straight educational films they they play in educational films they produce all sorts of materials they produce special films for gamma ray purposes using the dome for instance, which were where they projected two or three films together so that they could have for instance attacking aircraft flying right across the screen and being followed by guns. They made a series called the eye shooting films which are probably some of the some of the the best instructional films ever made for the services This is shooting a shooting which was in fact shooting over open sights and that was called eye shooting. Later on, of course, they were shooting with radar igh ts and all sorts of different gadgets. And through and and of course, eye shooting applied only to the small calibre material from small calibre weapons such as the pom poms and oerlikons and machine guns.
Stephen Peet 12:44
Now when you were making these films, whether straight instructional or semi fictional films, were you living on board a ship or were you coming and going every day from Chertsey or how did you operate
Alan Izod 13:01
basically, I lived in HMS excellent, which was fairly close to theTipner place where where they're filming it was based and then went to went to sea as necessary in the making of films but but very seldom for more than more than the odd day in most cases, when we go just go to sea for the day and do what I wanted to do. And it was very seldom that involve going out with ships for any length of time. But because we were making straight instructional films to see which were basically on how to do how to carry out duties. We did sometimes have to go up to fleet basis such as Rosyth and Scapa Flow and work there for a while. But basically run was based in in in Portsmouth living in the gunnery school and working from there this of course was very fortunate for me because it was on the same on the straight railway line to Chertsey with my family they often say I was able to get home from time to time so I was really had a very fortunate war in that respect. I was never entirely out of touch with my family for any length of time.
Stephen Peet 14:24
Was there a separate unit working out at sea in the same way as the I get the name right the army Film Unit had people sometimes at battlefronts
Alan Izod 14:38
know what was it
Stephen Peet 14:39
did you initially and cameraman to do that kind of thing
Alan Izod 14:43
initially and during my whole time at the Film Unit at the Naval filming, we were only a training film producer. Subsequently just after I left The Navy, the Navy did decide to set up combat units and in fact, Gordon dines became head of that section, which had a very tenuous connection then with with Tipner with the film, here's a tip No, because because all it's all its personnel were out in, in ships. And indeed, it was so late in the day that really, I think they're after D, they, the first work was done on D day for Europe, but subsequently, most of their work was done on operations in the Pacific in Asia, war against the Japanese. But I had nothing to do with that, because I was involved only only was training films. That was that was a big job in itself. And subsequently, we built up a very big unit. And we were involved not only in filmmaking, but also filmstrip. making, because it had developed during the early stages of the war that the film strip had been developed rather in various stages, once it became quite clear that the film strip itself was a good educational aid. But if allied to a film, then you'll have an excellent training package. And so we we then developed the unit on the lines of making Best Film strips as well as films, we brought up a very large animation section. Because we use diagrams, a great deal in not only in the films, but in the film, we had one two people who were who were quite well known in the animation world man called George Hardy. Harold Wandsworth?, I think, how once were we trained from scratch, Hardy, Ken Hardy, and not not George Ken Hardy, who was one of the be subsequently became one of the big names in the Rank Organisation that was built up to compete with the Disney thing I don't think with, eventually with very great success. And I think we were something over 100 strong and we were we were a highly effective unit. I think, by the time that you know, the hostilities came to an end, what was
Stephen Peet 17:16
your actual title?
Alan Izod 17:19
our SIS called officer in charge, I think I was in fact, the producer in the sense of demand, you know, the technical man in charge, I worked under a naval officer and called commander Phillips, who was not a technical ban, he knew nothing about film. So he was the man who administered the setup, but he was the the captain was ship as it were. And I was the head head technical man, and in charge of all the operations from a filmmaking point of view, and working for him for I suppose, what she would call for rations and discipline worked quite successfully. Now, this went on, about happily developing bigger and better, more and more films. And indeed, as time went on, we tended to under the influence of people like Gordon dines and Paddy Carstairs to have made some teaching films using very much more of a feature approach than I had done done originally. And I think that was universal is reasonably successful. In 1944, we had a visit from America, American Navy, US Navy delegation. I think it was a three man delegation on training methods, and they came and took us in the course of the travels, setting the whole training methods of the, of the British Navy, and included a man called Goldner, who is the commander in charge of the US Naval Training film training organisation in Washington, and Goldner has an interesting background he had been very much involved with the making of the film King Kong, and subsequently wrote a wrote a book about the making of the film which was which was very successful. Anyway, this, this group came and studied our work and went away again and then in the following year 1940. Early in 1945, the Admiralty decided that it should return this visit, and they should make a study of methods being developed in America of training. They decided to appoint three people at Training man a school is recording an instructor and and a technician. And they asked me to go as the technician subsequently has seen so often wins during the war, they decided they couldn't afford to do it on that scale on level, he only sent one person. As I was the technician, they thought it would be easier to teach me a bit about instruction. And what's the other thing involved? practical work and practical training? Yes. Then Then, then it would be to teach those sort of people about about film production. And so they gave me a quick course at the Admiralty for about six weeks. And by which time I said I know it all because I know all I'm gonna know anywhere. And then I was sent off to America. And I was there for five months was the
Stephen Peet 20:53
Alan Izod 20:54
Yes, that was in that was in a was in April, I think. 45 April 45. And I started off by sending me first of all by joining the US Navy because the US Navy had a very realistic understanding of the differences between their allowances and the British Navy allowances. So they promptly got me seconded to the US Navy instead of the British Admiralty, which made life so much easier for me. And I actually worked with them and worked in in in the the Naval Training film training branch. Did you then do you keep your British uniform? Oh, yes, yes, I did. Except that sense that I used Well, it was british uniform as as developed, I think by the Royal Navy in America already using khaki for instance, as a standard uniform, a hot climate uniform. And these, this sounds off by sending me on a about four weeks tour, I think of all the training establishments right around the coast of the USA, which is fascinating business by started off, going to new back to New York, and then from New York to Chicago to Chicago by train, Chicago, right across to San Francisco by train and then by road down the West Coast to San Diego. And from there on, by on the old DC threes, right across the south, to all the Gulf training establishments and up the coast, to back to Washington. And so I got tremendous insight into the US Navy and its methods to great admiration for them. But above all, for their drive and enthusiasm, their resources, of course, which was so enormous sources of men and material, so even if they wanted anything there, and he just had to say so and they got it. But their open mindedness and their willingness to learn. They were more anxious, much more anxious to learn from me than to show me what they were doing. But they wanted to know, how do you do it? So we say we do this, but I'm really here to find out how you do it.
Stephen Peet 23:27
Did you take copies of films with you?
Alan Izod 23:29
No. But they I mean, the copies were available in America. But they're more interested, you know, in, in discussion, really. I didn't have films to show them. It was really, it developed into discussions of training methods, not as film training methods, but as training generally, no, as I moved out of my own purely technical sphere into a general sphere, which I found very interesting. And then back to Washington, for local visits, and about that time to war in Europe. Finished obviously, in May. But about time I finished my first tour, but that went on. We went on quite happily visiting, and then I said Well, now I must go back home and report and they said no, no, no, you sit here and write your report because we want to see it. And I said, you know, we hope to learn something from your report as well as you learn something from your people. And so I did, I sat in Washington and I wrote a report. And it was very interesting that during that time in August, just before I'd finished it was VJ Day and war against the Japanese ended. And literally at that moment a curtain dropped and I found that all my sort of eligibility for moving around for working in US bases was just cut off like that. We became foreigners foreign power immediately when the war was over, and they blocked off any sort of access to anything that was not just, you know, open anything secret was immediately
Stephen Peet 25:19
they still wanted your
Alan Izod 25:20
report? Oh, yes. Oh, yes. But but they have the access to their facilities became very limited. But by then, of course, I was anyway, I was down to just writing my report. And I wrote that and, and submitted it to them, and then went off home. And I got a very appreciative note from the admiral in charge of training and in the US Navy. You know, which went above just ordinary, ordinary things. And then went back when I got back to England, and, and I was invited by the Navy, in fact, to, to stay on running their training programmes in particular, not only their film training, but training generally at the Admiralty. The technical training as well as at the Admiralty. And by then I could see that, that that really, I didn't want to stay in the service in peacetime at all. And when outside, can we pause it?
Stephen Peet 26:26
So we're in 1946? So did you get yourself D mob then? Or was it an automatic thing? Or by your request?
Alan Izod 26:36
No, it was an automatic thing my number came out for you remember, this was all done by numbers according to the word to when when join. So my name, big number came up in February 1946. I'd kept in touch with the British Council throughout and they regarded me and made it clear that they regarded me as a member of their staff and that I had every right to go back there. They'd supplemented my pay until I got sufficient promotion to clear my I would have been my salary. And they welcome me back or they were ready to welcome me back. In fact, when I went back, they said, Toby was great, sorry that they no longer had a film unit because it had been taken over by the it was it was being taken over the new department called the Central Office of Information, but that Initially, it was it had become a part of that. Still,
Stephen Peet 27:29
I see that was the continuation of the Ministry of Information
Alan Izod 27:34
initially, but but that at that time, their films were being looked after by the Ministry of Information. So for a brief time, I joined the Ministry of Information at the University of London mellott? street. And, but but then found myself offered the job as what was it called production assistant, Chief production control officer in the film's department of the Central Office of Information, which set itself up and
Stephen Peet 28:10
who was the production Chief,
Alan Izod 28:16
the director of the film department was a man called Ronnie Trimmed ?who had been involved in the War Office in film production during during during the war. Very nice chap, very good administrator, the head of the head production control officer was Helen De Moultied
Stephen Peet 28:36
mo you different spellings. And
Alan Izod 28:38
yes, Mo LPA. do vary tremendously Abel Abel person Helen, and I worked under her very happily and successfully has as number two.
Stephen Peet 28:57
And she later maried Denis Foreman
Alan Izod 29:00
yes. At that time, Dennis foreman was one of the production control officers officers having I think, particular control of the not to shut it off, but there liason with the Crowne Film Unit. Our people in the department who have who more will be heard, of course, were was Dennis Brown, who was one of the production control officers also. And Claude jd Davidson was another who I'd worked with way back in the days when I made the first our island nation before the war I What was your particular work? Did it I did, I developed a particular interest and the responsibility for a Commonwealth and colonial film production. And indeed, for the Work of the colonial Film Unit, which is now operating from the old GPO premises in Soho square, became particularly interested in the work of the colonial units and not only of the colonial film years itself but of other units working in colonial territories
Stephen Peet 30:20
who was running the colonial Film Unit at the time, do you remember?
Alan Izod 30:24
Yes it was George Pearson and was one of them and Bill Sellars CNB seem to be running it between them. George Pearson was an old hand in films. Bill sellers was a man who had been a health inspector or something outside in West Africa, and had seen the the potential and become making films itself in Nigeria.
Stephen Peet 30:51
That bill sellers it, hadn't he just with a little silent 16 millimetre camera, he made one or two little films on his own, nothing to do with any colonial film in it. Was that right?
Alan Izod 31:05
Yes, that was the case. He made he made films for his own work, in fact, him to back up his own work in, in Nigeria,
Stephen Peet 31:12
and George Pearson, who was already by then, must have been nearly 70, I think, I guess. Yes, he must have been in the air. He had an entire career first as a teacher, and then as a feature film maker. And then. And so it was a third kind of combining the two.
Alan Izod 31:35
Yes, this was a new film unit, when I first got met, it wasn't a small, it was fairly small horizons, and it saw its source job really as as many one or two units and sending them out to make films in different places in Kenya, for instance, and, or elsewhere, Uganda, and just making films on subjects that, you know, were useful to those places, and then coming back and editing them. And so and so they had quite limited view. And I'd become enthusiastic about this very soon after being contacted and thought that this should could and should be developed very considerably, but not necessarily not only on as, as a way of making films for the countries but as a way of setting up filmmaking in the countries as I developed the the theory that the film unit should be used initially to break the ground, or sending out a unit to break the ground by making films and then to help them to set up their own methods of making films. And in I think about towards the end of 1947, I produced a paper for the, for the COI, suggesting that an enlarged colonial film, it should be set up that I should set up in factory filming it as its as its producer, with these objectives in mind. And that paper hung for for a considerable time. And in fact, it was in. Let me see about April 1948. And it was still hanging fire that I saw the advertisement in the times recruiting a producer for a film unit to be sent out a set out in salisbury rhodesia under the auspices of the Central African Council. And I found this immediately a very great interest on the personal side, but then of course, just as one thing.
Stephen Peet 33:51
had that come independently do your report or your suggestions and the fact that now they were advertising, Whose idea was it to advertise?
Alan Izod 34:03
I think it was their own idea. I think I think it came from the from the Colonial Office didn't didn't come in association with us. They may have been influenced by the report which of course had gone to the Colonial Office, who I think we're interested in, we're backing it whether it's had any influence on the proposal from the Central African council I don't really know it may have done but I wouldn't go further than that.
Stephen Peet 34:30
So you're interested just I've seen that has
Alan Izod 34:32
been Yes. And I got impatient or waiting for a decision about the about the setting up this new colonial Film Unit. It was been going I mean I've been waiting an answer for a long time.
Stephen Peet 34:50
So you did you apply you applied yourself for the job where the other people that do met who were applying for it?
Alan Izod 34:58
Yes. So about Half a dozen applicants were shortlisted were interviewed, I don't think I don't remember who they were. They weren't people I knew. But there were people I knew, or one or two of them were people I knew or knew of. And, and I was interviewed by a small panel, including a man called Hugh Perry, who was assistant chief secretary at the Central African council from Salisbury. And subsequently was offered the post as producer, as producer of this new unit, which was to be called Central African Film Unit
Stephen Peet 35:39
that was decided in advance. That would be its name.
Alan Izod 35:44
As far as you know, I don't think it was, I think we decided that when I got there, that that's what it would be called. I think it was just a 16 millimetre Film Unit as it was advertised, to be set up under teh Central African Council. So we named it ourselves. And then I set up, I got permission to recruit a scriptwriter and one director cameraman in in UK, one, Drake's account man obiri being available in Central Africa in the person of Louis Nell, who was the film's officer for the Northern Rhodesian, government. And here I think that we use all the old names as of the time in which they were involved. And so I managed to persuade Stephen Peet to come out as director camera man, and Dennis Brown, my colleague in the ministry to follow on as a scriptwriter.
Stephen Peet 36:51
That was in the summer of 48. It was interesting because I don't think I ever knew who he was. You did sign up a director cameraman who at the last minute decided or for some reason couldn't come. That's how I happened to get the job. I remember you remember that? from somebody from Dartington Darlington filming, just vaguely remember you don't remember
Alan Izod 37:17
that I don't remember the soul that's finished. I remember it did happen but I don't remember the person was there at all.
Stephen Peet 37:25
Anyway, that's how Central African film unit
Alan Izod 37:30
update my my family situation. In 1946, we had succeeded the lease of little cottage came new cottage came to an end. And we've we succeeded in getting at lease Manor Farm at Shepperton, our friend Melville. So they actually moved out of there, moved out of their house, they're still owning and running the farm. But no longer living in the house. This is a lovely big Georgian house, which we knew well, which became extremely fond. In fact, at that time, when we went to live there, and very happily, we couldn't see any way that we were ever going ever going to leave this. As an I think one of the major difficulties that we had to face really a major problem in deciding whether to take the job overseas is whether we could bear to leave the manor farm. In fact, we did decide it was and it was at Manor farm in 1947. In January 1947, that Rosalind was was born our third and last child and say we were there for life. But it didn't stand up eventually against the lure of running a film a film unit. And I suppose getting back into film production. Because I think the least satisfying part of the only unsatisfying part of the job at central office was that one was dealing with people who were making films and not dealing with filmmaking itself. And you know I was dealing with them secondhand. And I think that probably brings that session to a close if you agree,
Stephen Peet 39:19
Yes, I do. And this is a very short piece left. I'm going to run it on to the blank until the end.
Stephen Peet 0:00
This is Alan Izod interview on Izod interviewed by Steven Pete January the 19th 1989. This is tape two side one. Now, this is a continuation of an interview with Alan Izod continued from where we left off some months ago. In for information, the interviewee that's myself, Stephen Pitt went out to join the Central African Film Unit. When it started in 1948. The Central African Film Unit worked in the two Rhodesias and Nyasaland known then as Central Africa. And later for a while as the Central African Federation. I worked out of the capital of Southern Rhodesia Salisbury for five years. That's where the unit had its headquarters. Then it continued to work for the unit as film office and I in Nyasaland for two years before returning to the UK in 56. There's over a long introduction about myself really is to explain that I should be a bit of a devil's advocate, asking Alan Izod questions to which often I know the answer or think I know the answer. Because we worked together in this same unit for seven years him as producer me as one of the two director cameraman. So enough of introduction. Now, when we were talking before, we got as far as your life story about mid 48. And your imminent departure for Central Africa, in fact, to to Salisbury in Southern Rhodesia,
been appointed by the Central African Council, as producer for the newly founded are about to be founded Central African Film Unit. Now, just for the record, what exactly was the Central African Council
Alan Izod 2:34
Central African Council was an intergovernmental organisation set up between the three territories which will then of course, Northern Rhodeisa Nyasaland as colonial territories, and Southern Rhodesia as a self governing colonial territory. And this was in fact, the forerunner of the federal government. Initially it concerned it was concerned mainly with such things as development, preparation of inter territorial things such as Karibi did all the preparatory work on that. But then it turned itself more towards a general collaboration. And it had a public relations committee on which served the Information Officers of the Director of Information of Northern Rhodesia Information Officer of Nyasaland, and the public relations, Director of Southern Rhodesia. And these were they were in fact, responsible for initiating the proposal it should be a 16 millimetre Film Unit, whose main whose main aim should be production of films for African audiences. So there were there were other subsidiary aims such as making a film for tourist promotion, which was in fact, favoured by Nyasaland in particular and, and Southern Rhodesia also was keen to have more films that were of interest to European population as well.
Unknown Speaker 4:39
Now, just go back a little bit. I believe it was the Information Officer of Northern Rhodesia Harry Franklin, who was one of the chief people instrumental in suggesting that film unit should yes sir
Unknown Speaker 4:53
Harry Franklin was director of information in Northern Rhodesia. He was one of the prime movers not only in setting up the The the unit but also in identifying its targets.
Unknown Speaker 5:06
Now to go back to your personal story you were appointed. How did you travel out? That was before the main days of flying out there? And did you travel with your family? .
Unknown Speaker 5:19
No It wouldn't have been possible for me to take up the job quickly if I'd had to wait until all our affairs were were settled. So my family could travel was just Yeah, sure. I think. So. I, I caught the first available boat as soon as I was free was very shortly after my resignation from the COI. And I went out of the Union castle boats, the Stirling castle, Cape Town and then by train, up to Southern Rhodesia to Salisbury, which of course was the way of getting there in those days. This was before there were there were airservices connecting Africa with London.
Stephen Peet 6:10
Now, you did you know anything about that part of Africa or any of Africa and advanced? Or was there something quite new to you?
Unknown Speaker 6:18
Yeah, only really information I had experienced, I heard about Africa at all, it was really through the films that I had seen, may have been made in, in Kenya and in Nigeria by the Colonial Film Unit?, whose work I was responsible at the COI. But I knew nothing whatever about about Rhodesia & Nyasaland. And of course, was the first thing I had to do is that was offered the appointment was find out as much as I could about it. And, of course, I got a lot of information from Rhodesia house. But the answer is no. I knew very little about the country.
Unknown Speaker 7:00
So when you arrived, were you treated like a new immigrant and put in a transit camp or what what sort of what was your private life at first?
Unknown Speaker 7:10
The just starting from heaven. I was given a splendid welcome by Hugh Perry who was the assistant chief secretary of the Central African Council, put up with him taken to his house and put up with him by his family for a couple of days. And given what would be my official transport, very nice, large Ford V eight, coupe and generally made welcome Louis Nell who was to work with the unit, as cameraman in in Northern Rhodesia came down to Salisbury pretty well straight away. And after only a few days, he and I set off on a tour of the whole of our parish. That is to say we set off across a Mozambique to Nyasaland towards, through nice land after making a number of the government Secretariat. And right across Northern Rhodesia, to Lusaka and back down to Salisbury which doesn't sound much of an undertaking and these days of beautiful, wide tarmac roads, but in those days, because it was a very different thing. travel by road, no matter how good a car you had was a comparatively arduous thing. on dirt roads and sort of mileage one would do would, would be fairly hard day's drive to travel 300 between 300 &400 miles. In fact, we were away for about three weeks, but a lot of time was spent calling on district offices and making ourselves known and, of course, finding out about my parish and finding about what people on the spot thought about what we were trying to do and what help and advice they could give us about how we should approach our job.
Unknown Speaker 9:08
Now, just for the record, Louie Nell had already been working for several years, making films or believe or for a little while for Northern radiation information dept.
Unknown Speaker 9:19
We have been what they call the film's officer in the information department. And he certainly had made some films not too many I don't think that he had made some film so he did have a certain amount of information. And in and of course, his advice did help me a great deal to set the lines on which the unit should work.
Stephen Peet 9:42
So was he then and there or before you got there appointed as one of the two director cameraman.
Unknown Speaker 9:50
He'd been offered a posting as a director cameraman with the unit. And I think he saw this as an opportunity to expand his his work and his knowledge. Make good use of it. And he had said yes, he would join. So he was virtually in place by the time I arrived. When I got back to Salisbury, and the Central African council had found a house for me, it was a house belonging to a southern Rhodesian official who was supposed to do it in London. At the time, we present some old type colonial house in the near environment of Salisbury suburbs. And we lived there for three years. Now. In fact, my family didn't come didn't join me until just after Christmas in 1948. Early in the new year, when they came out, by ship and I came up by train, I had a very arduous journey, and they're absolutely the hottest time if the, and Bechuanaland. And I met them in Bulawayo and brought them back to Salisbury with Meantime, of course, we'd been getting things underway, and that one of the first jobs was just to begin to get some equipment, something to work with. Because we started off without owning anything at all. We had a budget, I think of 13,000 pounds for the first year, which was apart year. And that had to cover equipping ourselves and everything that we needed. First thing was to select cameras. And here of course, again, Louis Nell was of some considerable help to me. And we decided that we would equip ourselves with Kodak Cine special in a cameras, which were regarded as more or less as the Rolls Royces of 16 millimetre cameras in those days, simple and effective camera, which has certain which could do certain things that when couldn't use or do on other 16 millimetre cameras that were available. And those first two lasted for many years. There also arrangements to be made about where we would work, how we would get our film processed. So there were discussions with everybody involved, trips down to Johannesburg to talk to the laboratory people to set things up, and so on the busy time, and of course, all as much as possible must be done before the arrival of Dennis Brown to start scripting. And see when people start shooting is
Unknown Speaker 12:38
because I've often wondered, thinking about it now. Particularly enormous amount of decisions that were made before I got there because there was a vehicle. Fargo one tonne van there was one of these amazing Cine Kodak specials which you call it the Rolls Royce of cameras. Certainly it was the most rugged camera I've ever met because it had to be it was bounced around on this van it was covered with dusty but it never stopped working amazing. And also the decision to make things for African audiences are all the film's 16 millimetre Kodachrome reversible, Kodachrome is reversible, and silent. And silent for a reason I'm sure you will explain but shooting at 24 frames a second although they were silent doing the mixer and fades in the cameras, and all sorts of things that I'd never met before, but anyway,
Alan Izod 13:48
I prefer that you remember how we first found that we couldn't always time the faders and mixers, right. And so we we experimented with using dyes to make fade outs on the film, it's
Stephen Peet 14:02
slowly putting everything into into a
Alan Izod 14:04
tube really difficult to work after fashion. Yeah.
Stephen Peet 14:10
But anyway, that what was the reason for deciding in advance that the films or the films made for African audiences, which was the main briefing at first should be made silent.
Unknown Speaker 14:28
Well, of course, one of the first things that went discovered on starting ones enquiryand was during was the there were a tremendous number of dialects hidden in our territory. Something like 40, I think in Northern Rhodesia alone, and so it was quite impossible to make to put soundtracks on film because they would only reach a small part of one's total audience
Stephen Peet 14:56
and would have only been considered to have. avernacular simple commentary soundtrack Anyway, there was no idea of doing sync shooting in any way the cameras were clockwork cameras. It is the idea of having recorded commentary on our testbed.
Alan Izod 15:14
Well, I think what really happened is that one found quite early on, obviously, one of the first things we had to do is find out how the films would be shown. And when we discovered that the main way of showing them would be mobile cinemas, then we had to look into the abilities of the people who would literally would be operating the mobile cinemas. And after all this, we came to the conclusion that the best thing to do would be to produce some silent to provide a type script and guide commentary, which would be translated into the vernacular. And then to go on from there. Gradually, of course, as time went on, we did produce more sound films, and sound film, they often did exactly what you said it provided the basis for the local cinema operator to provide it to make his own commentary. In other words, it was it wasn't always used as a car as a soundtrack.
Stephen Peet 16:23
You say mobile cinema vans So while I remember this anyway, all the showings were after dark, obviously. But in the open air, almost always, yes, they were I expect
Alan Izod 16:35
you remember, well, the fantastic impact of seeing a film being shown out in the in the bush at night, and the open air, particularly if you haven't arrived on the scene after the film had started. And suddenly you would see it, you will see this, just visually these images in midair and the distance in colour. And the commentary screaming was apparently no connection with anything else at all, just this picture in midair in the middle of the film. And then as one got near as well pick out the details. The way people were gathered watching this now in trance they were by and how totally they accepted it. This was I think there are a lot of lessons for us in this that we learned some, just by the fact that it happened to us some discussions when we talked about these things, and our reaction to them. I think in all we felt that films were accepted. So completely, as fact, this place of very considerable onus on us, and not to betray the sort of trust that was being put in us by the audiences. This was very good for us, because it made us realise that we that we that we had to work with considerable integrity, and only tell the story that be always be always have great regard to the truth in what we're doing. And what we're saying because we were dealing with people who believe in us,
Stephen Peet 18:12
the technical side to these huge film shows was it it was a great sheep property strung between two trees or two to two poles of some sort. And the mobile van, of course, had to have its generator. So that was put a little way away. So didn't make too much noise. And the crowds would gather both sides of the screen. So they a lot would see the film in reverse action, which didn't matter, usually, at all. Now, there was no in those days when you arrived. I think I'm right now guideline for making films for Africans, except a few experiments that have been done pre war I think, and the few that would be made by a colonial Film Unit. But they weren't mainly for African audiences when they know that's except the ones I suppose Northern Rhodesia, they were just beginning to try some.
Alan Izod 19:13
It will begin try some of the colonial film. Yes, it's films have been made for Africans, if remember the work of Pearson on sellers. Sellers, I think, had been a health officer in Nigeria and he started to make films there entirely understand see him as to help him with his own programme. So there's a certain amount of experience so that but there is no excuse. Let me Yes, there was no sort of coherent a dogma about this at all. I think that probably will we found us of the filmmakers or went in with a certain amount of belief of our own of the way this could be done. Obviously, we're all talking together about this all the time discussing ways and means and as soon as possible studying the effects of what we were trying to do. But basically, I think we started off with the belief that we had to relate whatever we would say to to human beings and to their own activities and responses. In other words, that we must hope to sell whatever we were lessons we're trying to put over, by example, by getting people to associate themselves with the characters on the screen.
Stephen Peet 20:38
Was the actual briefing if it I don't know if it was written anywhere from the Central African Council, that these were films to help in or was it African Development or African education?
Alan Izod 20:52
hears? Yes, there was there was a fairly clear briefing from the Public Relations Committee of the Central African council as to the objectives of the unit, which in fact, is set out in that letter, that report of rosewood paper by Rosalind Smith right. Now.
Stephen Peet 21:14
I understand from some something else I've read. Because this is not my memory. It's something I've read since that the the same Public Relations Committee suggested in fact, five ideas for the first films that should be made or the subject matter. Was this something discussed before you left the UK? Or was it something you met when you go there? There were something like pitfalls of town life? A health and hygiene? One an agricultural one a fable? Do you remember this? Oh, yes, I
Alan Izod 21:47
remember clearly. And that had been decided. suggested by the public relations committee, before even I was appointed, I think, certainly it certainly it was a brief that was there for me when I went there. And there's a brief that I welcomed, one had to have a direction in which to move immediately. It wasn't tired. I wasn't told that I had to make a film about this, then a film about that. There was this general briefing on on four or five subjects. And I was allowed then, to get on with it. And I was never interfered with. I was encouraged. We all were in the film. And we were repeatedly encouraged with all that we did give them words of praise when we when they people thought we merited them, but always been particularly about a Central African Council, passing through the person I think of you, Perry. We were given encouragement and help all the time. And we were extremely lucky with no interferes. So far as they were concerned, our job as filmmaking was to get on with it. So they provided only quite general guidance, and left it to us to do. We were we will observe this quite faithfully, I think of first three or four films fitted in directly with those proposals. I don't think we did them all. I don't think we did all five. I forget why. But we certainly didn't work with that in mind the whole time.
Stephen Peet 23:24
Now, before we get into the description of what the various films were, and just to go back a little bit more, this is not exactly a question. It was almost virgin ground because films of the sort had been made in other parts of Africa, but I think not in Southern Rhodesia, although there was or either there was a little Film Unit there and there had been a film. Do you remember that before you got there?
Alan Izod 23:49
I heard about it. This was the the not cutting Latham. It was quite a long time earlier. I think it's 37 or 38. There's certainly not not cut and lay some travel through Africa really down from Kenya, I think and making films as they went. And I don't I don't feel that it really had any great or lasting impact or that we learned anything from it.
Stephen Peet 24:19
What about the southern Rhodesian government? Is it film department? was it called then
Alan Izod 24:24
Yes. It had a film department which is films officer which was Goodliffe Frank Franck Franco Goodliffe. And what's his name?
Stephen Peet 24:42
I saw there was there was Frank Goodliffe,
Alan Izod 24:44
who was working with 35 millimetre films, mainly Frank had had been a a member of the scientific Film Unit. I think it was really basically largely with scientific filming. And I think this influenced his work a great deal. But his job was to make films, pure and simply for European audiences. And they said that they left the making filmmaking for African analysis entirely to us. We worked geographically together, we shared a block of rooms at Cranborne, which had been an RAF base in the training area. Era. And we worked in close, reasonably close association. But went our separate ways.
Stephen Peet 25:41
Now, also it is the influence of other people. I don't think I don't remember myself any swapping of ideas with other countries and what they were doing apart from the three territories Nyasaland, I don't think had any films being made. So it was the southern Rhodesian, government department and northern Rhodesian information department. What about and I didn't meet him when he came, but it must have been fairly near this term. JOHN Griersons visit was that was he making a survey of films that were being made in colonial territory?
Alan Izod 26:19
No, I don't think so. I think john Grierson was it must have been about 1950 Oh, it was still living in in the Beit Avenue house. So it must have been before 51 before we went on live. JOHN really called in on us to see what was going on and to meet us. And even though he loved filmmakers, and he loves to talk to filmmakers to know what they were doing, marvellous man for encouraging people. And he called us I think, on his way, either to or from South Africa, where he'd been asked to advise on the possible setting up of a National Film Board, as the man who has set up the National Film Board in Canada, I think. And so it was somewhat fortuitous. And very lucky for us, because wherever john went, he can dispense encouragement.
Stephen Peet 27:12
Now, let's get on to the film unit itself. You mentioned just now that the the headquarters were cutting room and office and everything. Were cranborne barracks that have been this part of it. It was Empire training scheme, wasn't it? Yes, I
Alan Izod 27:30
think so far Flying Training scheme.
Stephen Peet 27:32
And if I remember, it seemed to be now a hospital for newly arrived immigrants. That's correct. And there were three or four rooms there, including a theatre wasn't just a projection theatre. Was that shared with Goodliffe? Yes, it was. and cutting room was an office and a room used for cutting room and a store roomit was all about there was.
Alan Izod 27:54
there was literally all we had just to be started off, I think with three rooms and a share of the large room, which was used as a theatre. Yeah. Gradually, I think we acquired more. And of course, eventually, we took over the Goodliffe set up I had the lot. But by then anyway, we had moved into new accommodation. That's another later part of the story.
Stephen Peet 28:16
So at this first, first few months, or first year or two, it was a very small staff who each had a specific function Who were these people will remember them.
Alan Izod 28:31
Well, you know, of course, that Dennis Brown was the first ones to to come in from overseas and you were the second entertained
Stephen Peet 28:38
you were the script writing.
Alan Izod 28:41
Yeah. And we've appointed a man who would join us, I think, from the religious Southern Rhodesian government Brian AITA as administrative officer. And we had a typist secretary, who initially was a girl who was Miss Smith, I think was when I wasn't with us terribly long. And then Harris McNamara who lived at Cranborne an adjoining block, virtually to the film at work. She joined us and she was our secretary for many years from then on.
Stephen Peet 29:18
That that Well, that was the European stuff. How large African stuff was first? I know I was allocated a man called Gaston. I think his surname was Lookwhite?. But anyway, Gastan and he came, he was with me about a year as interpreter assistant
Alan Izod 29:39
couldn't do it. And you actually have two people didn't have an interpreter and sort of messenger.
Stephen Peet 29:47
In that case, yes, but I don't quite recall it might have been Martin. His other name. I also forget there. No, maybe it was later on Frodo
Alan Izod 29:58
was the man whose name we were seeking. Frederickk Jackaneyer? I remember him. I think he works with you for a while. Yes. Yes. That's some aside. Yes, we were I think we had mixed we had mixed fortunes in our success with African staff initially, Gideon was cost the great success of Gideo Melanade? was with us for many, many years, until the unit disbanded, in fact. And I think Louis had had less permanent success with his assistance, I don't remember them staying with him for very long. At the end, I think of the first year we began, we were already thinking about our development and how we were build up the unit and we got permission to recruit to assistance. And these were European assistance. And we had, of course, sounded out the market about the possibility of getting Africans and we saw there was very little prospect of that time over any advertisements we made, we put out were repeated in the African newspapers, and I think brought absolutely no applications at all.
Stephen Peet 31:29
Now this is a controversial point but a good point to bring it up would an African Asst. been on a completely different financial basis. And would that be the reason why one didn't get people willing to train for so little money because the amount that they seen, if I remember that they received as wages was not much more than the, the government messengers and other people like that
Alan Izod 32:00
I think, pressures on us that when we're employing people in purely messenger type situations that we should, we should abide by the government scales of pay. And therefore, of course, there was nothing especially attractive about being a messenger. So far as the interpret being becoming interpreters concerned. I don't recall very clearly what what facts governed our attitudes about that I suspect that they were much the same, that we were expected to abide by the existing thoughts about about remuneration. I'm sorry, I don't really recall that very clearly. The attitudes as in the unit, I think was such that we would have very cheerfully and willingly have done the utmost that we could for any of members of the staff, be they white or black. And I'm quite sure that we would have been in the front of the forefront for providing good conditions including pay for our reference to the maximum extent so obviously, there must have been some inhibitions difficult to answer it more precisely this time. I'm just just
Stephen Peet 33:25
wondering let's maybe we can do this together describe the way Central African film in it at Capitol film got made right through without going into too great details that this is the any of the ones which were made specifically for African audiences. And maybe because it's the first one that I worked on as a director cameraman I'm inclined to remember it most vividly, because everything was new, which was about the the the story of building a bridge
Alan Izod 34:09
Stephen Peet 34:11
It was called Mujingi? Builds a bridge. Now this would have answered the description of I forget those those briefings, a community effort or self help effort. When I arrived, Dennis Brown had been on the site of where the proposed bridge was going to fit built and had written a script for me to follow. So really, it came from an eye The first thing was an idea. And then a script which explained the whole story and then it was handed over to the director cameraman to to do after.
Alan Izod 34:53
Obviously there's the process that happens before that and that is that one would have gone to the Secretary for native affairs as it was in southern Rhodesia and where we want to do this sort of thing, our job is to do such and such. We would like to make a film about the advantages of self help you give us an A Can you give us any suggestions as to where we would like us to do this? What sort of story would like us to tell? And where we might find such a story? And from then on, of course, then he would have been put in touch I think it was with the people who were called land development officers. And I think we, we then got down to the land development officer in an area called headlands. And that is really the foundation. That's where he Dennis brown worked with him. And then as you say, The script was prepared for your arrival and you were Pitchforked out into the deep into the bush very soon after you got there
Stephen Peet 35:58
Yes, indeed, living in a mud hut beside a river. It was quite a surprise, I arrived with newly married and that was our first house, literally, in the country for quite a long time. Because the story was a true story of an actual event, a lengthy event because it was the building of a bridge. But it was, like most of the many of the films, we made a mixture of a true story and pieces reenacted. Yes, in this case, it was a river that got flooded every year. And the local chief asked for help to have a bridge made if I remember and the reply was the government will send an engineer, if you volunteer 70 of your people to do the actual work on the bridge. That was the basis of it
Yes, I think in fact, people he had several the local people had lost their lives in trying to cross the river windows and flooded
the Moran z River. I think it was mckone mckone area, I think, the Muradze? river here, about 60 miles from headland.
Alan Izod 37:22
Well, now it's it's interesting, I think, to follow on from that Stephen as to how we made a film in those days. Because I think the most striking thing that would strike modern filmmakers, I think like would hardly be credible to them was that after you had sent film up or brought film up to headquarters, we would send it off to Johannesburg. And there was no hope that we would see that film for at least four or five weeks, because it just literally did take that long to get film to Johannesburg to get it developed, the original developed and then a print made. And then back to source. before you could see it it. I don't recollect, I think probably occasionally we brought film down to you to show and you always come up
Unknown Speaker 38:13
Stephen Peet 38:13
I don't think that the system would work. Let later times No, it was came back, I think. And so since there was such a delay, and that it was a very long shoot, you're making one or two films later, by the time the rushes had come back usually. So but it was reversal Kodachrome. And there was no system of grading prints. So on the camera side, you had to be very good training, you had to have every shot within half a stop of correct exposure to get a usable shot. So that was that was quite a difficult thing to do. And when it was edited. And the thing that you did for the first two years because there wasn't an editor in the unit, if I remember because it was reversal film it or not because but it had no edge numbering. And since it was on original, the original had to be matched exactly to the cutting copy. We had a very careful system of every shot numbered with a number board at the beginning of the shot and the end of the shot. Because were shooting muted, didn't have to go on the same amendment as we were shooting. But the idea was that then the end board had a red strip down the edge and that was very visible on the on the film because it was all hung on pegs and then the front trim and the end trim were matched against the shot and that was the way the final. The final cutting was done. It was a laborious business.
Unknown Speaker 0:00
Stephen Peet 0:01
This is Alan Izod interview, taped to side two. We were just about to talk about the first travel film we made which was for European audiences and for export was
Alan Izod 0:14
named for export. Yes. And Isam? landed the lake as it was called and it's interesting that last year when I was out there, I was invited to see it. Again it found it's a great favourite it's a copy of it was found and was put onto videotape assembly on this videotape, so collects very heavily. I found it immensely embarrassing, embarrassing to see something which we've made 40 years ago. And I sort of perhaps the attitudes were a bit outdated by now
Stephen Peet 0:45
that was one that Blue in Alaneye? I shot together it we he took the south of Nyasaland and I took the north of Nyasa land and we divided our filming that way. But it was quite an amazing film to make enormous amount of travelling and purely personal note here. Our first son was three months old when the film shooting again. And by the time we got back to Salisbury , he was five months old, travelled and the track was my wife and myself, right across Mozambique all the way around Nyasaland, right across Northern Rhodesia, and then down again, it was quite an expedition.
Alan Izod 1:25
Yes, and as we said earlier in those days, that was that sort of travel was not the easy job it is today. And their last visit to last year to Malawi, we found that we could travel right up through the northern province onnew tar roads, and get most of the way up to the extreme North now. It is a very different story. 1948 One of the things that I remember, clearly as they now persuaded me that I must drive to the Livingstone mission and then go down there escarpment, because everybody should do that, once that and once was quite enough, a 21 hair pin bends on that three of which couldn't be negotiated in a single turn, had to back out and try again. Certainly a wonderful, marvellous country,
Stephen Peet 2:18
you should have tried getting down there like we could do when filming with a one tonne, Fargo track, it wasn't 20 sake of arguments, 22 hairpin bends, but it wasn't just three that you couldn't negotiate in one go It was all of them, I had to back every corner.
Alan Izod 2:36
I remember one amusing thing about coming back up from the bottom was that there are some some children waving to us. When we set off, and we met them on on every level after every kerb and bend met the same children again, we're scrambling straight up the hill.
Stephen Peet 2:57
Now, just to get back to the film made for African audiences, which was certainly at the beginning was the main purpose of the of the unit. It's no good. It's no good making films unless they're shown and it's no good making them and showing them unless they are some some value. Was there any kind of systematic system of evaluating the effects of the films or was it done? I know I did one lot of investigation that for films of showing them and we had questionnaires afterwards was done very much
Alan Izod 3:37
only by us. And there were there was no systems as I know of, by the of evaluating the particular films or programmes. Of course, the mobile cinema units were run by the territorial governments. They were nothing. They were a we didn't run them on a Central African Film Unit. We supplied the films and we liaised with them. Each government had, I think, just two or three I think the northern Rhodesian government had four or five member for each province Nyasaland government only had two or three and the southern Rhodesian government had very few I don't remember exactly how many the head and so far as i know there was there was no sort of organised system report reporting on if effectiveness of showings of individual films or programmes at all. So really, we had to get our own information and we used to go out No, you did many times and so did Louis now go out and see the units in action watch the showings of our films and discuss them with the audience's and with the operators and report back to me
Stephen Peet 4:58
that what was word of mouth, certainly, they were obviously having a good effect, particularly the ones that you could judge the agricultural stories with whole areas would be changing their methods of agriculture. And that's something that is seldom one seldom has the chance of seeing as a result, direct result of making a film, which is pointing out a new or a better method of doing things where this is actually carried out.
Alan Izod 5:30
Yes, I think it's very interesting that we succeeded in building up this competence quite early on. When we started, obviously, people knew nothing about us knew nothing about filmmaking. I mean, the the the men on the spot, the district commissioners, the native commissioners and the land development officers and whatever, but they were open. And they were interested and they wanted to help they could get better. I think it is, the interesting that they were reporting favourably so soon. There were many instances of it at the time of work being passed back of the efficient efficacy of the films in changing attitudes. And it was and we were immensely encouraged by now,
Stephen Peet 6:16
who in effect, decided on the subjects? Because at first there were these sort of rough briefing by Central African Council. Was it a long time or a little time before various government departments, government departments in the three territories? saw that here was a useful? What shall we say branch of education? Was it several years before they started requesting certain films? Or did it start right away?
Alan Izod 6:51
I think we were very lucky as filmmakers in that we were given general targets and left to get on with it. We were seldom checked on or turned in a different direction in our programmes. And, in fact, I think the government's grew to really depend on us to, to find the subjects as well as as well as make the films. In other words, we didn't have any close direction about what we should do. I don't remember clearly there may have been some cases when we were when we were asked by government to make a particular film. I don't recollect that being so but it may well have been vencer in individual cases, but in the main, we did the we did the research work, we found out where we could best apply ourselves and got on with it and say we always had splendid backing from the Central African Council and its pay and later, also by the Federal Information department. There, of course, we did have more close direction. I think we were appointed in in a more direct way at targets. And our targets changed somewhat.
Stephen Peet 8:10
Now, we'll get on to the federal business in a moment. What exactly was your role in the unit as a producer,
Alan Izod 8:21
I suppose is sort of composite role, rather more so than a producer usually is the producer means many things, doesn't it in different situations in different countries. So in some cases, it means a man who's in technical control. In others, it means the matters in financial control, and other administrative well, even in fact, it was a mix of them all I was responsible for the work of the unit. This mandates its administration, its reporting its finance, its technical direction, and so on, you know, it was just an overall job in charge of the unit. Really, you could say that I was the person in charge, the producer was really applying a technical term to it.
Stephen Peet 9:10
So you didn't direct when I remember you're not directing either. So I, I
Alan Izod 9:15
was only involved in production, initially, in editing. Other than that, I was I was always directing the directors but never making films
Stephen Peet 9:28
was was this business of you editing the films The first two years an economy or wasn't an editor considered necessary when, when the unit was first,
Alan Izod 9:37
we didn't simply didn't have the money to until we until we went back and asked for more funds for our second and third years. Must be in the third year. I think when we got an editor. There was no way that we could afford to have an editor. I had been an editor. I mean, it was a part of my own personal history was Gaumont British and Of course, I enjoyed doing it. I enjoyed the active participation in filmmaking. But the answer is no, we couldn't, couldn't afford an editor.
Stephen Peet 10:10
Now looking just now together at the catalogue, worked out that there were about 45 to 50 films made in the first three years of the unit's existence, which is, which is quite extraordinary because they varied in length, I seem to remember from about 10 minutes to 70 minutes, which was one thing, I think we'd learnt from film shows that the ones of that length were too long. That was one of the things we learned, and I don't think after that things were quite as long.
Alan Izod 10:48
But I think we we came to the conclusion quite early on that the ideal time if there is such a thing was about a short two reeler. In other words, about about 20 minutes, yeah, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stephen Peet 11:01
Now, the Central African council paid for all these films to be made. Was there any income? Were films sold to other countries? Or was there any income from the films that we made?
Alan Izod 11:17
Yes, I believe so. I think there was some income that we were allowed to use direct, I'm a bit a bit hazy about that. But obviously, we did make quite a lot of income. Because quite early on other countries, expressed an interest. So we, of course, right from the beginning, we started sending out catalogues. As soon as we had a catalogue, we started sending them out to other countries and their wares as far afield as Australia, for Papua New Guinea. And indeed, we sold copies of many films to the Australian Government for Papua New Guinea. And stablished, close cooperation with them. But every African country, the British dependencies in South Africa. And so I knew that there was great interest in what we did. And we made sales all the time. Now,
Stephen Peet 12:14
Now in 53, is the beginning of Federation federation of the three countries into the Central African Federation. Was this in any way change the types of films being produced? And in fact, did it change? Anything for the unit? I know I, I was there at the time, and we went on working. And as far as I know, the only visible change was the the vehicles had a federal number plate, and and we continue to receive the same, the same wages and so forth. But where the US producer where the pressures brought on you to change the work of the unit in any way?
Alan Izod 13:07
I don't think they were, I don't think there were pressures brought on me. I mean, it was never a situation where I was told that I must do this or that or I think, I think I was expected to fit in with the general objectives of the Federal Information department. And of course, I didn't have any choice other than to do that. But it wasn't. I guess, I found say that I was put under pressure, I was just expected to conform with the department, which I'd agreed to join as producer of the film unit. And what this did mean, of course, is that our objectives were broadened very considerably. There was we continued to make the same sort of films as we had done for rural African audiences. But in addition, the Federal Information department was very much more concerned with tourism, for instance, with making films to increase in tourism business to put over, both overseas and in, in the territory in the Federation itself, the advantages of Federation qiite, obviously, I mean, it was the government policy to show that it was a good thing. We didn't see anything harmful in this, I suppose that as we were living at the time, we believe this ourselves, we felt that we were taking part in a process that was eventually going to lead to the most desirable of all situations is a totally multiracial situation. And we joined it quite happily. enjoy doing it. quite happily, for the benefit of hindsight, of course one one things that I might have looked at in a different way but certainly one didn't.
Stephen Peet 15:08
Because strangely enough, of course, as a film unit already working in all three countries it was a ready made Federal Department unlike the others were, it was something new.
Alan Izod 15:21
Yes that's quite right.
Stephen Peet 15:23
did did did the Cafu films for rural audiences have to be passed by a federal native film censorship board which existed
Alan Izod 15:37
i don't i don't recall that I think that they were exempt as as as government made films, I don't ever remember having to submit them to any censorship board. So I think not.
Stephen Peet 15:53
Now, at some point, just before Federation I think it was but I'm not quite sure the date a regular newsreel was started. That was called Rhodesian spotlight. How was this organised? I remember myself when I moved to Nyasaland in 53 being requested to supply one or two items a month shot 35 millimetre. And for a short newsreel item and we shot it silent because again, we didn't have any sound recording apparatus and sent it down to Salisbury for sending on was full information of what the what the what the newsreel item was all about. What happened from then on
Alan Izod 16:47
Well we collected from various sources ain Salisburyand and sent it all off once a month to African film productions in Johannesburg, who made it or developed and printed it and and edited it, made it up into newsreel, acommentatedi t the whole the whole job and, and sends it up to us with whatever number of prints were requested. Right from the beginning, I think or very early on. We also requested a lavender print that we could send to to the UK were rodesiahouse organised the showing of it to the newsreel and BBC representatives who were able to take duplicate negatives from this lavender print of any items which they felt they would like to use. And we got quite a lot of usage in that in that way. overseas, and it became quite a useful bit of publicity. It was never it was it was never sort of a powerful propaganda. It was it was items of interest that were thought to be of interest. And I suppose it was a fairly typical magazine newsreel.
Stephen Peet 18:04
And the where was it showing? Was it only in ordinary cinemas in the towns? ,
Alan Izod 18:10
Yes it was it was it was intended for, for European audiences in and outside of the Federation, and it was just shown in cinemas made in 35 millimetre and shown only on 35 millimetre.
Stephen Peet 18:29
So it wasn't on the editing and the making up of it wasn't under the control, actually, the Central African Film Unit whether other newsreels later were, which were made entirely in house as it were all within
Alan Izod 18:47
other newspapers. But in fact, later on. We persuaded the editor of Rhodesian spotlighted, they appear to come and join us. I forget what he offered to join us or whether we asked him to Dez Murphy, and from then on, we set up the editing and completion of the film ourselves because this corresponded to the setting up our own laboratories and recording apparatus. By then, the unit had developed very considerably and had moved into new premises, had built a lab built and equipped a lab and recruited staff. Experts from overseas had a superb RCA recording system, magnetic and sound on film and was really operating in an entirely different calibre from what it had been in the early days.
Stephen Peet 19:50
So it had a vastly increased number of staff
Alan Izod 19:55
vastly increased. I think the time that I moved on which was in 19 60 there were over 100 people in total employed by the Film Unit.
Stephen Peet 20:07
But there had been films with soundtracks or the music soundtracks or commentary soundtracks made from fairly fairly, fairly early on that I think it began by requests from Rhodesia house to have some of the films that we've made. And of course, the tour is filmed. Where were they recorded then when there was no facilities in Salisbury?
Alan Izod 20:31
made quite early on and in the history of the unit we had. We set up a small sound recording system, I have a portable 16 millimetre optical sound on films. recorder, and we use that in conjunction with the portable magnetic tape recorders. And I think we've made one or two of our early film soundtracks for one or two early films on that system. But of course, the the spotlight was always produced and spotlight was always soundtracked in South Africa until such time as we had adequate facilities ourselves in Salisbury.
Stephen Peet 21:20
There was another newsreel as well wasn't the started African Museum, a different name.
Alan Izod 21:28
Producer African news. Was was a newsreel entirely for African audiences. Its objective was largely to show the benefits of Federation had brought to the African people. And this was also made at about monthly intervals, I think,
Stephen Peet 21:50
was it? Does it have a commentary in English or was it in several languages? Do you recall that
Alan Izod 21:56
it had a commentary in English and but that was regarded as a as simply as a basis for for translation by the mobile cinema operators. But they could they could use the English commentary if they're in situations in towns, for instance, where the audience would understand that
Stephen Peet 22:13
I think I was already working in Nyasaland then then. But wasn't Goody Nurtu? nurses who have been my assistant Wasn't he one of the first commentators for that newsreel?
Alan Izod 22:24
Yes, I think he was
Stephen Peet 22:27
because I and maybe it was after I left because I don't remember.
Alan Izod 22:31
I think it probably was, it
Stephen Peet 22:33
must have been because he came to Nyasaland with me and work until I left Yes, in 56. Now where are we other newsreels, we have dealt with you yourself, thinking back and their time with the unit as producer? What was the most memorable project that you remember being connected with? That gave you the greatest satisfaction, shall we say, as a filmmaker?
Alan Izod 23:05
I think satisfaction is in different types of obviously with the success of films of various sorts. The early successes of films with African audiences were very exciting. And they gave us the fillip that we needed very badly because we had gone out into the blue with no no knowledge and information about how to do the job. And we worked it out for ourselves. And we had great success. So we will a fortunate in having that success from time to time. I think the choice of a film film and a footballer for mine Vyas film, Steve for the Edinburgh Festival, also it was gave us great satisfaction, because that's not easy to come by. Technically, and remember that from the beginning, we had deliberately decided against the use of complex techniques. We had decided right from the beginning that simplicity of approach, and was really the way that we should tackle this bearing in mind that audiences are often never seen a film before. They subsequently we did find out that you could hurl any sort of technique and they seem to pick it up immediately. But initially, our thoughts were that we had to deny ourselves, the luxuries of some of the techniques that we could, that we would otherwise employ. So I think when we got to making the film about the Kariba , which was basically very involved subject of a difficult subject. The successful making of that film, I think gave us gave us a great deal of satisfaction. Because we were able to exercise all sorts of techniques to let ourselves go both in the preparation, the editing of the film and in the composition of the track and so on. And it was a very satisfying film to make. There are other plusses though, for instance, the operation Noah story was a tremendous success, which came out of nothing. We were making this film about Kariba we used to get batches of film down from whoever cameraman was, were sent up there. And one day we got a batch of film for Rhodesian spotlight from Atkinson I think it was cancelled. So he had come across gameranger rescuing animals that were trapped on the islands that have been caused by the rising waters of Lake Kariba. And, of course, this created tremendous excitement, we had international newsreels from all over the world coming to to cover this and expose the film we made theire called Operation Noah was very satisfying thing. You can you think of others,
Unknown Speaker 26:23
Stephen Peet 26:25
well, really, that that's my personal story or things that I was happy to make sure. Because I was happy to put on record the story of hallym and gwendy, in women's clubs, because that's part of the history of Zimbabwe, now very much. And also the, of her husband, who I understand, died a few weeks ago, the old Chief,
Alan Izod 26:55
who has she died long time
Stephen Peet 26:57
ago, she died in about 1955, I think, is a remarkable woman. Yeah. It's helping, having helped made films which are now part of the history of the country, which is a satisfying feeling. But also films which helped a little bit, obviously, to help the standard of living by improving agricultural methods. I know, one of the films and I can't even remember which one it was. But part of the story was the importance of ploughing along the contours, rather than up and down causing erosion. And going through an area where everybody was ploughing along the contours because of the showing of this one film. And that's really quite,
Alan Izod 27:52
quite was probably very early on between the two farmers. Wasn't the two farmers now.
Stephen Peet 27:58
I can't remember which one it was,
Alan Izod 28:00
it would be quite an early films. Yeah. Well, I agree. You see, that was immensely satisfying, because this is what we set out to do. That was our motivation, wasn't it? Yeah. And why we took it on at all. But I think, of course, for me as a producer to find myself at the head of something, eventually, that was about 100 strong and had a huge programme. And it was very highly regarded generally. It was it was a great reward for what we were doing.
Stephen Peet 28:36
Yeah, now, I, my second or extended contract came to an end in early in 1956. I think the few of us who had started getting we'd had a single three year contract, and then an extension, I believe you were the same. And that and then the chance to stay on in a different kind of more than just a temporary contract. I left in 56. And we came back to to the UK. So I don't know much personally, what happened in the following several years of which the Central African Film Unit continued, who's described already how by till later, it was very much expanded and there was a large staff and it had laboratories. What did you do? From 56 onwards, did the work change where there are fewer films for rural audiences and more for publicising Federation and that kind of thing. Things change rather than
Alan Izod 29:53
Oh, yes, indeed. Like you. I had three year contract to start with in 51 1951. I renewed it. What was it 52. Anyway, I was carried carried through to until 1956 on my second contract, and then the units had of course, meanwhile being taken over by the by the Federal Information department. It didn't we didn't have any options of as a unit was concerned that was just transferred. But then, obviously, we were then given the option of whether we wanted to serve on with the Federal Information department. Sadly, for us, when I say this very genuinely, you decided you must do something different. That we had decided we would continue to make our future there. And indeed, I mean, let's be honest about it, we felt ourselves firmly committed to the country, we believed was the information we had or perhaps with our lack of political insight that Federation was seeing the economic benefits that I mentioned, we thought that all the other benefits would follow, we could see more African advancement occurring. But clearly, I mean, we just weren't in touch with the situation, the political situation as it was going to develop. And, and so we were wrong about that. But we honestly believed that the always have some new unit that this was we were doing the right thing that Federation was going to be for the benefit of all. And we had no hesitation about joining the the federal government and getting on with the job. Yes, the direction changed quite a lot. We had made far more films for white audiences, both in the Federation and overseas. We had we made films, for African audiences about the benefits of Federation, persuading was one thing. And we honestly believed that ourselves. And if one could look at it in a much lengthened timescale, I'm sure that would be right. And it was all about time. However good, the things that Federation was doing, it wasn't being done fast enough. And other pressures were developing, obviously, of course, in the churches at the same time. But so, also, as always, remember, the filmmakers are always motivated by the desire to get on with it and do something and to make films. And we happily will being presented with a bigger and larger programme of films to make being provided with finance, able to set up the sort of equipment that a professional unit requires for recording, and manford. on the spot developing, we were able to get into 35 millimetre colours for our tourist films. And so it was an exciting and highly successful time for the producer of the film. And this went on and then I suppose it began to calm down a bit too, and we get cut through all the great developments. Until about 1960, when Bennan Brailsford, who was the director of information on the federal government, decided that he, I've seen from the advice of voice and vision of voice and vision, you may remember you may not even know, was the public relations company, it was employed by the federal government. And clearly, part of their work was thought that they could do was improve the the information department, and
to say that the one thing that voice and vision decided was that they didn't need to interfere with the film department at all. This was a good going concern, which was efficient and knew what it was about. Not only that, but then they decided that, as that was the case, that we should also take over all the other technical functions of the information department. And so the information department was was then reorganised. So saw that there were two main divisions. One on one side there was press and public relations, which was headed by a chap called Colin black and on the other was the Department of technical services, which I was asked to head which consists of film units, very efficient photographic units, under Ronnie hadden publications Section. And I think that was the that was the main part of it. But of course, at about this time, too, I began to feel that I've been sitting at the top of the filming for a long time. And it wasn't so much, because somebody else wanted to have a chance of the fact that I wanted to move on and enlarge my own sphere. Now, I felt so firmly committed to life in Rhodesia at that time, that it never really occurred to me seriously, that was, what I should do is leave Rhodesia and get into filmmaking elsewhere. Clearly, this would have been very difficult to do it had I thought of it anyway. Because while you can go out as a technician and get a job, it's not so easy, as I'm sure you know, yourself to move in as a ready made producer and take over complete organisation. But but that, in any case, didn't really come into the picture very much. I sort of continuing to make my life and my career in Rhodesia. And I was very happy to take this on. It was interesting, I was moving into new fields, and doing quite a lot of new work and working with other people who liked the photographic people and setting up the publishing unit. And that I did until the from the end of 1963 until the end of Federation, which was the end of 1963.
Stephen Peet 36:35
Just one thing. Was there another producer of the film unit working under your Yes.
Alan Izod 36:44
There was a very easy transition, in fact, because Dennis Brown had had been the number two versus he has first a scriptwriter. And then as the as the deputy, more or less to the director. And so he fell into place quite naturally, as the as the next producer of the film unit. And very successful. He wasn't very efficient to do it. Until the unit folded up at the end of Federation did I'm not sure whether I got my my dates, right.
Stephen Peet 37:18
You said you said 63 I meant 1960
Alan Izod 37:23
is I left the film unit And stayed with federal government until it folded up and 63.
Stephen Peet 37:32
Now, what happened to all the film unit, was it lack of funds that closed it or what was the decision that it should come to an end or its work should come to an end? Well,
Alan Izod 37:45
I had the sorry job myself of telling the film unit that there was no way that we could keep it in existence. I had when when the just before Federation finished, I was approached by Winston field who was the first prime minister of the Southern Rhodesian government, after Federation. I was the first Rhodesian front Prime Minister was approached by him and asked if I would take on the job of Director of Information. There was a small information department in theRhodesian government. And I have a great list of liking and respect for Winston Field. And, and I decided to take it on the benefit of hindsight, it was not it was an unfortunate decision because I was never happy with the political pressures that developed under the Rhodesian front. But I did I did take it on. And of course, I was confronted with the fact that we that the budget available was barely sufficient to run the department itself and there was no way in the world that he could maintain a film unit of any size forever. Subsequently, I think it did develop it they started to build up a film unit again on some of the of the CAFU people did rejoin. But I think they mostly had quite a difficult time in finding employment. Dennis brown Of course went off to Australia eventually, after a year or two I think he freelanced for a while writing scripts, but then he accepted post of, Deputy Director of the Australian National Film Board and subsequently became number one film director.
Stephen Peet 39:47
That's when it would Kevin film Australia and with him.
Alan Izod 39:51
I think just about the changeover was it I'm not sure yes.
Stephen Peet 39:57
Now Just very briefly, if you could say what happened to you in the next few years, it's you seek, or rather to put it this way, you cease to be directly connected with any film work from 64 hours, from 60.
Alan Izod 40:14
To 64, because of, although I hadn't been producer of the film era from 60 to 63, of course, it had been a responsibility, you know, it was came under my control. But from then onwards, I wasn't involved with filmmaking at all. In in Rhodesia, the, yes, I joined the department and very soon, of course, there was the Paris revolution when Winston field was ousted, and the Prime Ministership was taken over by Ian Smith. And as from that time on was a situation developed, the political pressures came to bear. And when I had to accept or was required to accept the fact that men must associate itself with the policies of the Rhodesia front, rather than just with a government, in other words, when everyone's job became political, I was very unhappy in this situation, but soldiered on believing as I had no other option than to see out my remaining two years of service. And so I could take my pension and retire. That it wasn't very, not a very long in that position, because quite early on the government, theRhodesia Front government made the decision that they must upgrade their information department to a ministry. And then of course, as a ministry, they appointed a secretary. They brought in Leo Ross, who had been a native Commissioner in the midlands, I think, of Rhodesia Mr. Secretary. And they then thought well, that I would have to take abolition of office, but then came up with the idea that as they were appointing a new high commissioner in London, it would be a very good idea to station a information advisor with him at Rhodesia house, just to advise him on the problems of, of information, as they would do in a house, they would involve him. And I got this professional, very interesting job of acting as information advisor on a level with the the political and economic counsellors, in other words, being one of a small group of people who advised him day by day on what was happening, what his reaction should be, and how he should, how he should react. For six months I was at Rhodesia House a job which I enjoyed immensely because of the professional challenges. It was during that time, of course, the Ian Smith came to London for his last meeting with the British government. And that was an extremely exciting time because the world press was of course well aware of the situation that was developing and so on, had the problems of dealing with of setting up press meetings, and so on for the whole of the international press in London. And and then, of course, we found ourselves in this situation of having UDI declared without knowing it was going to happen. We literally didn't know at Rhodesia House. Whether the High Commissioner knew I don't know. But certainly his his deputy, Norman Hesketh didn't know, and it just happened. We got a telegram saying at 11 o'clock this morning, we did so and so. Well, the British government reaction to that was to declare us all persona non grata and give us 24 hours to leave. Subsequently, they were persuaded to extend that to two weeks. And then we were we were required to go we went back to, to Salisbury Norman and I travel back to go Well, then, of course, on arrival again, I read once once more became an odd body and they didn't know what quite what to do with me. So they asked me what I thought I could do. And I said, Well, I think that your problem really is that
you have no means of putting out information abroad because you only have posts. Now at the I'm in South Africa and, and Portugal. And so really what's needed is to set up an organisation which will deal with external information. And so I set up a section within the information Department called the external services, about a month. And we started a publication called Rhodesian commentary and built up a huge mailing list and so on. And, again, professionally, an interesting and interesting job. And this, I did for a few months, when suddenly they came up, the government came up with a proposal to set up an office in Australia and Information Office in Australia. And I was asked whether as someone who had lived in Australia in the early in his early days, whether I would go to Australia and do this, and I was very happy to have the the chance to go to Australia and to work there bearing in mind that now I had little more than a year to serve before retirement. And this had a much greater effect on our lives and was expected by now our family of course, we're all on the wing or married and and released with John at university in Ireland Jill married in Nyasaland Malawi then and Ralph also. Stop, I've lost my way.
Stephen Peet 46:40
It's all right. Because so there you were in Australia with with one year to go on. Before you we're due to return.
Alan Izod 46:50
Yes. And and we had a most interesting time there, it became a very difficult job because in the sense that it was very hard to persuade the government in in Rhodesia, that the following that we were getting there was that of, of the rise of right wing extremists, or the average person was not anti Rhodesia really wasn't frankly, wasn't terribly interested. They would turn up and listen to talks. And one could get on the television and talk to people but that one didn't really improve, do anything to improve the situation for Rhodesia, I just really reported it to the locals. But they personally, of course, the thing that resulted from this was that we left Rhodesia Finally, and we've offered interesting work in Australia and New Zealand. And our life changed completely because we took up we decided to make our lives their own future. And as we did with great satisfaction starting a publishing firm, as a branch of a large American publisher, entirely new work but of course, Oliver as a teacher had had a lot to do with with with education, it was a should have said it was a school's publishing organisation. And so far as I was concerned, it was just the problems of management which is something that any good producer should be able to enter.
Stephen Peet 48:25
And that's the end of Alan Izod, interview. tape to side two.
Unknown Speaker 48:41
And then there's a cast shot
Stephen Peet 0:01
This is Alan Izod interview interviewed by Stephen Peet on the 20th of January 1989. Tape three, side one. Now, type threes on one is are about 15 minutes long, and consists of a few questions that were sent specially from National Archives or Zimbabwe, and which didn't come to be answered during the recording. And rarely, this tape is just for the National Archives, Zimbabwe National Archives. Some of the questions sent remain unanswered because as you heard, that I know Alan Izod went to Australia in 66. So these few questions start with answers to a question 10 onwards are some of the questions on what what was the relationship of Central African film unit to the colonial Film Unit.
Alan Izod 1:17
The only relationship, I think really was mutual interest in each other's work. I had, of course been involved with a colonial Film Unit before startingly Central African film unit, because when I was the production control officer had a central office of information. The work of the colonial films had been one of my responsibilities.
Stephen Peet 1:44
Now, question 11. Did any of the capital films have to be scrapped or any reason? Do you remember?
Alan Izod 1:53
No, I don't remember that. I suspect that there may have been times when we scrapped material intended to be made into films because we decided that the coverage couldn't be adequate for the purpose.
Unknown Speaker 2:07
Stephen Peet 2:08
do you remember sorry, question 14 did the coming of TV affect you or the unit at all?
Alan Izod 2:16
Coming of TV overseas, of course was of great interest to us because we saw it as a as a potential outlet for our the particularly the work that we were doing in Rhodesian spotlight publicity about the
Stephen Peet 2:31
Alan Izod 2:34
But I think it had not been in existence very long in the Federation at the time, and I left the film unit. So I can't say really that up to that stage. local TV has had very great influence on our work.
Stephen Peet 2:54
Right now. 15 do you have there says according to one source sometime in 63 staff or is drawn from Nyasaland at the request of the dazzling government due to problems of recruitment. You recall
Alan Izod 3:12
Frank ever another recall it nor understand it? Problem of recruitment by whom, for what certainly wasn't for the film unit. And it seems unlikely that what the the last time government wanted to do would affect the activities of the film unit.
Stephen Peet 3:31
Okay, and 16 I know you've read the article about the Central African Film Unit by Rosalind Smyth. What do you feel about it as a historical record?
Alan Izod 3:44
I think it's a great deal more accurate and fair than when we first heard it at the Imperial War Museum, at that time, she hadn't really checked her material are thoroughly adequately with senior members of the film unit. I think that it's come out in its present form, which I think is quite acceptable is that it's due largely to her discussions with Dennis Brown, who was the man as the last producer of the of the film unit, who had access to all the factual material. Now, I'd say it seems to me there are only minor inaccuracies and and perhaps occasional instances of facts being fitted to theory, but nothing very important.
Stephen Peet 4:28
Okay. Now, 18 how did Rhodesia front departmental and ministerial officials compare with the federal ones?
Alan Izod 4:41
I think it would be fair to say that the that the Federal ministers operated in the traditional British parliamentary fashion, they expected to give the policy to the civil servants to get on with the The administrative aspects involved in the Rhodesian front. Ministers, however, expected political loyalty from their civil servants. In other words, they, they seem to require commitment to their policies over and above what a civil servant would be expected to be of in a British parliamentary tradition.
Unknown Speaker 5:28
Stephen Peet 5:31
21 question 21 in 66, the branch of internal services was set up Whose idea was it? And what were its goals and operations? And what were its relations with your own section?
Alan Izod 5:46
Yes, I think in the recording we've already done I mentioned that. When I came back from from London from Rhodesia house after UDI had been declared, I set up a branch of external services in the Ministry of Information, because the usual outlets for information were quite closed off. I think this is must be what this refers to.
Stephen Peet 6:19
Okay, now in the 60s, question 22. To what extent administrators take jobs to freelancers rather than to your section and what were your feelings and so far,
Alan Izod 6:33
it must remember that the film unit was wound up at the end of 1963, because there were no funds available
Stephen Peet 6:42
to them around 63 or 64.
Alan Izod 6:45
Under 63, at the beginning of 64, was wound up when I took up the post of director of information for the Rhodesian government, there was simply no funds available. And so it couldn't, couldn't be kept on. Subsequently, I believe after my time as Director of Information. Some freelancers were commissioned to do work for the ministry. And in fact, some of them of those freelancers were ex members of the film unit.
Stephen Peet 7:17
And as an addenda, this is an addendum because it's not in the questions here. Some of them went on and continued later working in what was it called after that, whether it was still called a Central African Film Unit, or was a government
Alan Izod 7:33
the Central African film unit was never revived, but but several members of the x members of the film unit, in fact, were recruited into a film's branch of the Ministry of Information. But by then that was after I had left the scene.
Stephen Peet 7:50
Okay, and 23 this is where they're long one, I'll make it shorter than this. What were relations like with ministers that commissioned you to do films? How do they go about it? what extent they involve themselves? And did you ever have to turn down projects from people in and outside capital? This is earlier?
Alan Izod 8:14
Yes. We're starting out there. And I don't remember cases, turning down any proposal for ministries. I think our problem really in the earliest days was to get ministries and departments aware of what we're doing and what we could offer them. When we when we did have contact with ministers, when they asked us to make films or whether we asked them if we could make films within their area of operations, responsibility, they were invariably helpful. They didn't require any close vetting of what we were doing, they were willing to leave it to us, but we would always submit the initial treatment to them for accuracy. And then we would invite them to see the rough cut of the film before. It was time before it was finalised. And before the originals will cut the distribution prints made.
Stephen Peet 9:15
And the business about proposing products from people in and outside the Film Unit, I presume in answering this myself. Because the various director cameramen and others working in the unit came up with ideas for stories from time to time, and they were discussed, presumably on their merits or whether we had time to do it.
Alan Izod 9:37
Oh, yes, within within the filming of this would be an ongoing ongoing process. And of course, some would be adopted and some would fall by the wayside for various reasons. Usually because it wasn't possible, considered possible to make an adequate film of the subject.
Stephen Peet 9:53
I remember one or two assistants, and translators interpreters suggested stories and one or two we did make, particularly adaptations of old, old fables and legends did and and also, because we didn't mention it in the previous visual recording one or two, non instruction or education films which were just made for entertainment to sugar the pill a bit to show the beginnings of shows out and out in the rural areas that they came from with inside the unit, certainly not from a ministry.
Alan Izod 10:40
I think it would be fair to say that we were always canvassing people within and outside the unit for, for subjects for films, in particular, a case in point causes the African journalists who worked for the African weekly, and I think we got one or two subjects from them, people like Lawrence van Baker?, for instance, interested in the work of the unit.
Stephen Peet 11:07
now 24 throughout your career, how did you arrange commercial marketing? And how did UDI disrupt this aspect?
Alan Izod 11:19
So, marketing falls into the two categories doesn't it cinema distribution and non theatrical distribution, non theatrical distribution were arranged within the country in association with the with the territorial film libraries outside the country, to some extent, through the central film library, commercial distribution in in Africa, through the African film distributors, because they were responsible, they really had a control of all the cinema distribution south of the Sahara, I think, definite term and in London through Rhodesia house who would share our films as The newsreel people or if they were completed tourist type films to distributors quite effectively, and they were successful in getting distribution of several films.
Stephen Peet 12:22
Right 2567 annual report concerning mobile film units, this would have been after you'd gone to Australia. It says film shows nor districts would be in particular a different story from a few years ago when units were stoned in various areas. do recall what this maybe referring to?
Alan Izod 12:46
No, no, I don't. I dare say it might have happened at the time running up to the just before the end of the Federation and possible in a in reserve, near Salisbury, for instance, that it might have happened. But I can't say that I actually recall it happening. And suddenly, suddenly, there were very few occasions on which it did if at all.
Stephen Peet 13:16
And that is the end
Unknown Speaker 13:20
Stephen Peet 13:22