Derek Threadgall

Derek Threadgall Shepperton Studios 2.11.15
Forename/s: 
Derek
Family name: 
Threadgall
Work area/craft/role: 
Company: 
Industry: 
Interview Number: 
359
Interview Date(s): 
8 Jun 1995
Interviewer/s: 
Production Media: 
Duration (mins): 
181

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Speechmatics  version

 Derek Threadgall Side 1

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Roy Fowler
The copyright of the following recording is vested with the BECTU History Project  Today is the 8th of June 1995.
SPEAKER: M2
We're right back to you and I'm talking with Derek. Third go Derek starting at the beginning when and where were you born.
SPEAKER: M8
I was born in Harwich Essex on 18th November 1938 and went to see my first film. Locals in the mob. At the age of approximately five years old. That film was Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.
SPEAKER: F1
It attracted me even at that age the intimacy of the cinema. The magic of the beam of light coming out you couldn't see where it came from but I knew that when I after seeing a few films I turned my head to try and find out where that being came from. I was hooked. I think it has also to do with the fact that at that time of course throughout the war we were at. In.
SPEAKER: M8
Marriage in Dover court which is a mile away from Harwich. We were in many ways in the firing line from the German bombers. They were on their way to London and came over us and we were very much in the firing line. In fact on two occasions I was nearly my family were nearly wiped out. While I was with a flying bomb.
SPEAKER: M4
That clipped our rooftop dived into the next street kill 26 people and the other was when we were machine gunned while I was to in my prayer. I remember very clearly a machine gun by German fighter machine gun in the seafront one Sunday afternoon. So we survived but the cinema of course in those days was the outlet for us as she was a working class kids because I was brought up in the at the time Two Up Two Down House. Farther away the war.
SPEAKER: M10
In Burma and my mother as usual trying to bring up most of my brother and my sister my younger brother and my younger sister. I understood him I was the only real close we had to go.
SPEAKER: M3
We had three cinemas in our town owned by a circuit I believe from Aboriginal Hudson cinemas and I think they were based on part of the Bostock circuit. I believe they were based in Ipswich and they had three cinemas the regal and the regent in Dover court and the palace electric palace and heritage notary palace is still getting built in 1911 and I've been very much involved with a fundraising campaign over the years to to resurrect that cinema which was left to record ruin. It was known as the flea pit. With good reason.
SPEAKER: M12
In those days but the cinema was our only recreation really as kids and of course we we we loved it and there is in the days of course when you did have entertaining films family films and you could go to three times a week if not more.
SPEAKER: M10
And that was my introduction. Did you go that frequently. Yes I I went as often as I could about my grandmother because my mother was working in or not in a local munitions factory and my grandmother who lived with us because my grandfather being killed earlier.
SPEAKER: M3
My grandmother really took on the responsibility of looking after us while my mother was working my father's away which is not an uncommon situation at the time my grandmother because we had to have at that age 5 6 years old seven years old. We had to have an adult accompanying us to the sort of man my grandmother was favourite. She didn't think much of it but in those days you had continuity of continuous performances so as you go in at say half past 3:00 4:00 5:00 and you go in half way through the feature. You just sat there until you you'd seen seemed to quote where you came in. And then you left. Unfortunately if my grandmother's point of view I wanted to stay there until we were thrown out so and she had to drag me out and on many occasions screaming and shouting I wanted to stay and see the film. But yes we went very often and I ended my first competition because I used to run competitions in those days the local cinemas painting competitions gear to the film and I remember qu ite clearly what the first competition was that I entered for. And got a little prize. It was a film called the swordsman with Larry Parks before his Jolson pictures and Larry Parks made a film called A swordsman which played at our local cinema. And there was a painting competition which I did and I think I must've been about seven or eight I suppose. The problem with it because being sorted is about Scots a Scottish clans and of course Titans were there and to try to paint titans in the book was very difficult. But I've got a prize of some sort. And the other thing that I remember quite clearly is that the H certificate was in at the time and King Kong played at our local cinema. And of course in those days every cinema had a board outside with stills so you could see what sort of film you were planning to go and see a King Kong was there. And of course we wanted couldn't go in to see King Kong H cert but we enjoyed it looking at the stills outside. That was the news we got to Kin g Kong cause I've seen it since many times. But at the time it sort of rankled with us. Of course we were always prone to joining in the chorus of catcalls and boos when the projectionist at the film broke which it often did. Not so much in the regal in the region but it certainly did at the palace.
SPEAKER: M7
That was the fleet it was asleep at. So these are very beaten up Prince.
SPEAKER: M3
Oh yes. And there are many many stories about the carriage luxury palace which I won't go agree with here but there is a book out. Which is published by the palace Trust which is wonderful. What a wonderful stories about the early days because it is built in 1911 as one of the first purpose built in a modern country. And there was multiple stories but we went to it as kids and saw all sorts of wonderful films. But it was really a riot at times because it was a flea pit and all and Herridge at the time without being derogatory to Harry's now heritage a very nice place now. But at the time it had more pubs per square foot than any other times it was enabled our naval base always had been and it was also an embarkation port. For the army going abroad during the war. So we would see at the time we used to see miles and miles and miles of tanks armored cars cetera all going through the town to the to the embarkation area and of course heritage at the time was very working class the kids t hat went to the palace. But we don't go to the palace as a last resort as we were known as the snobs in Dover called one mile away. So we go there as a last resort but then we'll end up in a fight with the local kids and the local kids run riot.
SPEAKER: M10
Do you remember what the admission charge.
SPEAKER: M3
Yeah mission charge was sixpence in real money to an RFP. Sixpence basically the cinemas at that time were pretty well the same in terms of charges it varied very marginally. I believe in the early 50s when I moved to collect on say it was sixteen miles away I was in my teens rank were marginally more expensive than say a sold out. But the price at that time or time was I think it was sixpence and the circle on the balcony was nine.
SPEAKER: M10
So is that for kids or adults too that was for kids. If I remember rightly adults was about a shilling. In fact if we go to see the electric palace in Harry's you will see the original prices on the doors which were there when it was functioning as a cinema before it got resurrected with a died in the service you must have been a drain on the family finances then going to the movies. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M3
Oh my my my grandmother sort of took it all very stoically and I think deep down I think she enjoyed it but she didn't enjoy it with me because I think insisted on staying there and I was always embarrassing because I literally she would drag me out screaming and shouting with her choice in films I imagine was different on. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M12
I would say what I wanted to see and they were mostly of course the Disney films and that the accommodation whatever being she was she was fairly old then and I think that she'd been brought up in the 20s and what have you so she didn't really appreciate what I wanted to say but she took me and I think that she shot she saw that as part of her role because I was the oldest and keep me happy my brother and my sister at the time rarely went to the set like my brother started later on but I think my grandmother felt this is what I liked so to keep me happy. She'd take me.
SPEAKER: M5
It's very interesting I think the sense of vocation that children often had I had it too and it's a constant theme actually throughout the history project recordings that the cinema chose people people didn't choose the cinema it's hard to really define why isn't it that there was a magic or there still is a magic here.
SPEAKER: M3
The magic I found was and I still do find I'm not in love with today's it allows. More like rabbit hunches and it's all automated lottery. At the time I think it was the fact that you were in a darkened a darkened hall. And there was something about the decor. Something about the environment of a cinema in those days. Be it a flea pit or whatever and you had this. There's this music playing in the interval. You had these these lights these which of course you didn't have a home. It was a totally different ballgame because at home especially if you were doing living in a two up two down and you were all underage everyone else's feet. There was no room for you to play as a kid could you. If you've got your toys out such as they were you had to put them away again under the stairs because there's no room. So there was this. Feeling I felt a tremendous anticipation when I went into the cinema to sit down and you're there with at the time of course lots of other people and I felt that whe n the lights when the house lights dimmed and the census certificate came up on the on the on the curtains or on the screen depending on which way the projection is cheaper just want to play it presentation. And you were transported into another world. Which of course was so important with wartime and everything else going on. You're into another world and the world of Hollywood. There was a world of fantasy. It was a world of adventure. And many times when we saw the Errol Flynn Robin Hood film for ages afterwards my friends and myself. Would Run around especially the summertime being associated with our our towels on our backs and tired like cloaks because that's what we'd seen. We were very nervous. We were very influenced by what we saw on the screen. It was fantasy land and we and we tried to recreate in our own small lives what we'd seen.
SPEAKER: M5
I think kids were far more inventive than with their lives in the play. Do you think modern day children imitate.
SPEAKER: M3
Well films or television. I've not seen it but maybe I do. I don't think they imitate what they what they are though is influenced. They don't behave. Yeah yeah yeah. This is what I see with my own kids. They are influenced by what they see and what they hear which of course is the worry of parents today. My in my age group were brought up with a totally different attitude where you obviously societies changed where kids cannot go out on their own. Now as they as we used to my mother's to say to my brother was I right go off I come back for tea now five o'clock. She didn't ask where we're going. She didn't have to. But we would go miles.
SPEAKER: M6
We were trying we'd roam absolutely all over the place. We'd go to the river over the bridge. We didn't have we we didn't have watchers. We are asked a total Australian time in fact on one occasion I was in the summertime again we used to run around bare feet.
SPEAKER: M3
In the streets and on heavy and I tried on a drawing on my foot and a total stranger Glover's trailer couldn't walk on it. Total stranger came up a man. With my brother myself and asked what was wrong and I said I enjoyed it where do you live Sunny. And I told him when I was about a quarter of a mile away from the house. And he said well I got on my back and he took me home. Imagine that today. Oh questions. Also the question will be asked this is the this I think the tragedy for kids today that they are not allowed out. Where are you going. What time of day over big back by cell phone me to let me know you're there phone me when you're on the way there is what you have to do today. So kids are influenced by what they see and hear. But they certainly don't have the inventiveness. In my view they certainly don't have the simplicity of life that we had where we could go and we'd play cowboys and Indians. One of the things that we'd love for Christmas was to be born a cowboy out. Simple . But you put it on put the chaps on the belt and a gun belt. Now you've got people who are frightened or even by their kids guns toy guns. Understandably but when the thought never crossed our mind or our parents mind children were less covetous in those days too. Yeah. Well this isn't this the argument that burglary today. Is so right because there's more to steal. We could leave our house as we did the latchkey. We can leave our doors open. Nobody but we're going to pinch anything because basically it's nothing worth pinching. Now there's plenty worth pinching at a market for it. So again the thing that I find depressing these days is the security aspect of life. Everywhere you go you've got to lock up everything even if you're going radical and letting you lock up the door a double lock it put a chain on when you get out of your car. You got a lot. My father with his car. When we were older he used to leave it with the engine running. The ignition key and while he went into a sh op to get something it was there was a freedom which kids don't have today. That's certainly not as inventive. They certainly want more because they see more. And it all costs a lot of money.
SPEAKER: M7
Well they're training consumers in this horrendous society which we know was to live young. I mean that's there's some role in life to absolutely consume. I find it very depressing actually because they're missing out in my view on so much but everything is.
SPEAKER: M5
Is there at a price. Let's then retract a moment. You had a happy childhood by the sound of it.
SPEAKER: M3
I wouldn't say particularly happy. No the childhood was dictated by events and the events up to 1945 when the war ended was very much like many thousands of others dictated by air raids and broken sleep but they were not that the usual thing. They were very exciting times for a child. Well they were. Especially when you are gay and relating to what you saw on the screen. And then when you watched the world go round as a convoy coming down the road and you run up the top of the road because our road was just one off the main road. So we only had to run about 100 yards to the top of the road and we'd see these hundreds of vehicles. Plus of course we had huge prisoner of war camp about two miles from us with German prisoners of war. And we used to go up on our bikes and watch them being exercised in the main road. They come out hundreds of them and they just march up and down with about four soldiers guarding them. Nobody wanted to escape. There was yes there was always that excitement of something happening. German knew but surrendered at Harwich on a sandbank. When he got lost and came up under the nose of a century who arrested it straight away and the view boat was there as a tourist attraction. I remember quite clearly going on this year about my mother paying sixpence for the privilege of going round and banging my head very badly. I'm one of the hatches being carried off. But things like that happen in the. A flying bomb came down intact. On one occasion it came down intact didn't explode. It just came down some trees. And of course the word got out very quickly and there were hundreds of people running. It reminded me a when I saw John Bowman's film about his childhood Hope and Glory Hope and Glory. Very similar very not particularly because it was similar for him or me a similar for hundreds and thousands people all over the South Eastern. What have you but these things happened and the air raids would go on especially with the Blitz of London has been on the flight path. We as kids would be bundled under the stairs and I am to this day I can never remember actually ending up back in my bed simply because I went to sleep. You got used to it after a while upon when the flying bomb came with it clipped our rooftop and went to the next street and say kill 26 people to this explosion. There were things that we did as kids which were exciting like when we used to watch the dogfights above us and the stories you would hear that you see the planes actually fighting each other. The German and the British planes. And then of course we used as kids after the dogfight we got on the beach and we collect bits of cordite which to us was brown glass the cordite which came out of the guns which is jettisoned by the guns father cordite. A plane crash or whatever and we go and make our own our own bombs what it's called I put it all together in a bag and then. Put it in a dustbin put a fuse to it a bloody dustbin we were mad were absolutely mad but n o one thought anything of it no indeed.
SPEAKER: M5
I remember we used to. I was older 10 years old and we used to collect unexploded incendiary right. Yeah. Anyway good fun but totally dangerous dangerously rising. What. Tell me about school. Did you sign that school.
SPEAKER: M3
No. No not really. I went to what I remember is being taken to school first day at school and being very embarrassed because I had braces we had to wear short trousers. What five years on. I think it's four when we started in those days 4 years old. First day of school and I had braces and I went to go to the loo which is now outside loo. And for some reason because I never have. I'm technically senile. So I started very early age being technically senile because I couldn't work out having taken my my braces off the life and I couldn't work out to put it back on again. So I walked around the school tried to hold my trousers up and tried to hide the braces under my pullover which will wore at the time that most embarrassed and I suppose really I shone at the highest I got second in the class when I was a junior school and primary school and I began to show the English English language at that very early age. And that's course kept me all the way through with English but apart from tha t adequate I think average I would say. Did you enjoy it to a certain extent but in those days of course you had a much more tougher regime. At school. In terms of the teachers in terms of kids. There a lot of bullying went on by the masters who by and by we go through by both you and some of the teachers perhaps shifts absolutely absurd other kind of course was very much in vogue while still in veterans so I I have two minds about that. I certainly feel that there should be a greater deterrent because the fear of the case actually helped us. I never actually got the case at all. I was close to on many occasions threatened with it on many occasions and by the by the teachers. But I have I have seen the case used in class and that was enough for me. Obviously some kids took a long time to learn the lesson but I actually saw the cane used on two occasions when I was a kid in front of the class. The boy was out they got it on he got six on each hand. And that was enough for me but I ha d been threatened by it and I still think to this day that there should be greater deterrence.
SPEAKER: M7
Yes there's an old fashioned way of looking at things these days. I certainly believe deterrent should be the flogging kids is is really not an answer. I know that there's something equally wrong with the situation as the child I suspect but anyway yeah we're wondering away from film history well carrying along that tack.
SPEAKER: M3
I mean at school at primary school obviously having gone to the cinema and been wooed by cinema I could do much about it except to enjoy it.
SPEAKER: M9
And then after the war my father came back from Berlin. Home life is very fraught as I think with a lot of our life.
SPEAKER: M3
I felt very sorry for my my parents in retrospect because at the time I didn't realise what was happening. But of course as we all know hundreds if not thousands of blokes. Were sent abroad I volunteered or being called up and sent abroad to fight. And a lot of the blokes in front of my father had never been outside the home town let alone to Burma or to France or Africa or whatever they hadn't been. So they came back a different person. And of course the women who'd been left at home also hadn't been out of their home town. Really. I suppose my father said that we were all Essex people our family was Essex the relatives of all Essex and all lived around that area. So the bigger the longest journey we ever made was 26 miles from Dover to Ipswich disabilities. London was a once in a lifetime trip. So when my father came back in common with many others I suspect. He felt he found it difficult to readjust to a parochial existence which is what it was. And my mother I suspect in common w ith many other wives mothers found it difficult to adjust to his lack of adjustment because she hadn't been away. She had been bringing up kids. And of course there that it developed into a very serious roles and violence. But what happened and I had a perfect antidote for that because I learned very quickly that when my mother and my father started fighting in front of my grandmother I had the perfect antidote. I just burst into tears. And then of course what would happen is that my grandmother would turn to none of what you've done. You've upset the boy. So I realized very quickly this is a way and my mother would stop or she'd stomp out or whatever. And my father would go somewhere else and that has been shed at the bottom of garden or into the pub. But I had decided that they would stop it if I just burst out crying which I did every time. But it was it wasn't very happy. We moved from Dover court to collect on sea. And I think it's right at 47. And that's when my film making my film trip you say education really started to take off restarted takeoff because I was hooked and we had three cinemas in the town had an idea and we had an assault show and we had to assault us and it was again you had a flea pit types that had one and was asleep at times cinema Akhil Amar. Their claim to fame the kingdom of was that it actually managed to show the entire print of war and peace without any breaks without any problems because every time he went to see film The King Hamar which is the smallest cinema there'd be problems the carbons would disappear and the light would go and whatever.
SPEAKER: M7
Well one piece the King Vidor one. You know what's considerably later isn't it. You know the 50s I'm talking about the 50s and we moved to clarity.
SPEAKER: M3
I said that 47 48 but of course the thing I moved to straight away was the Saturday morning pictures. That was to me that was incredible experience. In fact I'm preparing at the moment a documentary on the Saturday morning pictures for next year's.
SPEAKER: M11
Centenary of UK cinema. I'm hoping to get that done because that was done that yet to my knowledge not complete programme on Saturday morning pictures. It was an absolute experience. Anyone who cared or didn't go.
SPEAKER: M6
I think missed out on a hell of a lot because it was a social thing but as we know is brought in by rank basically to help mothers who I would question that it was brought in by rank to try to she a brave right move you go and make a buck or two start yeah he used the talk about letting mothers do their shopping on a Saturday morning for a couple of hours without a problem.
SPEAKER: M3
Very smart plan which is a very small plan and we went Reagan and my brother myself and regularly gave the admission price then that was it. We started going I think about 44 49 1950 with sixpence per downstairs and life ends up in the circle of course all the snobs wind up in a circle. And it was a wonderful period because the social side was so good as well. They had it all worked out. The Monitor's a rather run on the school system prefects and monitors and got involved with the local community. OK. There were lots of lots of problems lots of yobbos and fireworks going off around about November 5th in the loos and the usual thing. But basically I then started going to the cinema. When I was at school at secondary school. I were just called in Colchester but I was then going. Three four five times a week.
SPEAKER: M11
Sometimes six times a week.
SPEAKER: M6
Two questions. Did you have a clear cut sense of direction at this point. Absolutely right. Well we've come back to that. The other is did you have encouragement from the family. No. No.
SPEAKER: M3
They were mystified or mystified and broke until my because my father had left then and had a stepfather. And he said right you want to go to the pictures always time you start earning some money. So he gave me part time jobs. He had a little engineering shop at the bottom of the garden. And he used to repair lawn mowers and things like that. And he gave me that Saturday job with him of stripping down lawn but I still stripped down a lawn mower and cleaning them off and what have you had to pay me about three shillings or something like that.
SPEAKER: M6
So that's my pocket money sweated labour sweated labour. Absolutely. I went back to the sense of direction then. Tell me Tell me how your sense of creativity. Well when I was going to the cinema all those times a week I still got the diaries with all the entries in.
SPEAKER: M3
Where I can get what I used to do. I got so hooked on cinema and on films that when I went the supplies to enter into my diary there was a film star diary at the time published the film the date I don't see the film the title the film the stars of the certificate and the supporting program. All this is in the little entry in the diary. So I've got diaries I've been running for about 3 4 years with every. Entry of every film I saw and I became because I used to read the credits but made a point of reading the credits films and I used to I became so expert at the 50s films that I really became a walking encyclopedia of 50s films because it was all ingrained in my brain and of course what I wanted to do was make films. That was the objective was at the end of the day to work in the film industry and make films. Obviously one immediate thought directing films but this is what 14 15 16 years on. There was no way that one could do that in a backwater like Clacton on Sea. There's nothing th ere. And of course I still hadn't. People didn't really travel to London a lot. Then we were still very parochial. My parents got very annoyed with me. My mother got very annoyed at me because she could see nothing coming of this which is understandable at the time I there is no indication that I could get anywhere. There was no exams to take. There was nothing you just had it or you didn't have it. She persuaded me in the end to go into the airforce instead of chasing after this rainbow was that national service.
SPEAKER: M7
No you volunteered. No I volunteered in 19 1956 I volunteered.
SPEAKER: M3
To go into the airforce for a career because my my mother's family was service orientated there were naval people and my father being in the army. So for some strange reason I volunteered took the exams and managed to get into the airforce as an apprentice at Hereford RAAF Hereford in 94 January 1956 and it was at an 18 month course and I got out after nine months. I just realised it wasn't for me at all. I had no complaints about the airforce but I just realised it wasn't for me. So I was getting more heavily involved with the local Astra cinema the Camp Cinema helping out projection and generally designing posters for the Camp Cinema.
SPEAKER: M11
The films are coming out that in the end I was asked categorically by the CEO whether I wanted to stay and I said no but he said you signed and there was a furore at the time in Parliament about boys going into the air force on 12 year contracts we signed for 12 years and the furore was because we were signing at 16 years old. Bearing in mind the age of adulthood was still 21 it wasn't 18 or 21. So we were signing our lives away virtually the best part of our lives away. Going in at 16 for twelve years which meant we came out at 28 or 30 29 nine and someone raised a question in Parliament about this about the way that boys were. I mean quite right when we signed anything into orbit didn't at 60. Signed the Official Secrets Act and all the rest of it you signed and there was a lot of trouble because of some of the boys. After about a year or so we're beginning to regret it but there's no way they can get out only by buying themselves out and as most of the boys went in to the service at the time came from shall we say more working class backgrounds. Their peers didn't have the money to buy themselves out so they were stuck and there was a furore about this. So I was then in a position where I wanted to get out of the airforce because I wanted to carry on pursuing this this rainbow. I couldn't get out. So there's only one thing to do. The CEO had me before him and offered me a photographic course. He said Obviously if you are interested in films etc. I realised this. He was very good. But he said we can't go on this way. I said no we can't. And he said I could best I can do in the airforce offer a photographic course. They said you can have that if you wish. And I said No it's not the same thing. I want film or movie. So we haven't got anything movie that's about that's all I want. And he tried to persuade me to stay in because of hardly. I was down after my nine months of this course. I was down for officer training but some reason best known to themselves. But I didn't know that at the time so I said No I'm sorry. The only way I could get out. I couldn't buy myself. I didn't want to be thrown out with ignominy. So the only way I could get up to flunk my exams which I did not hold up before a board. Like a court martial board. All these officers around this table asked me what why. Because my record up to that point I'd been good be very good in terms of the academic side and in terms of the trade training side etc. and they couldn't work out why all of a sudden my exam results plummeted. Fair enough. And one of them the chairman of the board said you want to get out don't you. I said yes. You should write your wish will be granted. Obviously we can't keep you. So let me let me out. And in my discharge papers which I still got it had free as indulgence which meant that as I understand it there was nothing. Come back on me. I wasn't thrown out. It was my decision and they accepted as free as indulgence. So I though I came out and I was left to my own devices. My mother was shocked horrified. Didn't speak to me for ages. I realized then I had to move out of the home. And so I made the decision. To try and get a job in London. I was then I was sixteen and a half 17 minute but of course I had the threat of national service hanging over my head rest of it. So no one would take you on for a job because knowing full well that in about a year's time you're going to be called up.
SPEAKER: M3
How long had you been. I'd been in nine months. So that didn't count. Only five months of it did count at the end to come off my national service. But I didn't realize to know that at the time there was only when my national service papers came through that I saw that they had deducted five months because I had been over a certain age. I think it was seventeen or something. There was a five month old that allowed me off so in fact I didn't do the two years I did but about 17 months or something like that but I didn't help because at the time I didn't know that they were going to allow me five months as far as I'm concerned I was down for two years. So when I couldn't get a job anywhere. In fact we had a guy in Clacton who specialized was window cleaner and a window cleaning firm. He specialized in taking on boys who were waiting to go for national service. So and so I joined him. I did winter cleaning for throughout the following winter and then I had my first break. We all had the b reaks especially when you're trying to get into a business from a backwater with no support. You have to have a break and the break came through my local youth club which I went with like table tennis at from time to time in Clacton. And I was talking to the warden about films and he was asking me what I wanted to do. My hobbies were and I said I just want to make some films idling equipment or anything it. And he said well you really want to talk. We have a teacher in Clacton who who who is starting a new system in his school of introducing film to his pupils to help them learn here and this is quite new at the time quite knew that film should actually be introduced as part of the lesson.
SPEAKER: M12
And this guy was a trailblazer in this respect that he lived locally. And I was given his name and his address by the warden to go see him tell him I said You should come to see him and I went to see this guy and he said that's interesting that you should want to work in the industry. He said I'm a teachers I never worked in industry but he said I am bringing you I love film. He said I make amateur films from time to time. And he said I've been toying with an idea of making a film through the youth club. He said We've just finished a version of War of the Worlds. I said Oh great. Which was shot locally sent and I'm just about to do the sound recording for it. You said Would you like to kind of sit in and see how it's done. That was my first major break because it gave me an option. He gave me an opportunity to actually watch something being done albeit at this stage it was just a a sound recording a tape the reel to reel reel to reel tape of a soundtrack for this film that just shot at the youth club. And it was a version of war the world very good version I'm unfortunately because I knew nothing. I knew nothing about equipment or anything. So he said we're going to do this recording up in this room in a youth club. It was the middle of the winter and he said because we want to make sure the project we're going to project the film about we need to put the sound of projector out the way because we're got to record that the artists although the actors who were kids. Doing their lines. So you said the only way I could do this put the projector outside on a flat roof. A project through the glass window. You said that we need someone to operate the projector on a flat roof. How do you feel about that. I didn't know one end of a project from another. It was a debrief. I know what objective was. It was a debris one of which I've got at home which I bought for 60 pounds of about a year ago the exact same cost machine I worked on. They said How do you feel about that. I said I have to go. Terribly excited terribly excited because and to see this machine which one of debris was a wonderful machine 16 real wonderful machine.
SPEAKER: M3
So we lock this machine onto the flat roof. He had the reel to reel recorder inside the room. The only problem was it was snowing so I'm up on this roof freezing to death with this machine got it going so I projected the film and of course the snow was coming. I was out of focus because we hadn't focused it up and he's trying to and he's recording a sound. I can already see the film and he's trying to indicate to me with sign language to focus it up I didn't know what the hell he was talking about.
SPEAKER: M12
So in the end he scrapped it and came rushing out clambered onto the roof and focused the damn thing and I felt terribly upset about that because I felt I had failed my first effort I failed because I didn't not focus a projector. Eventually we got that through and we had the premiere of the film the youth club and then he said What do you reckon about shooting another one make. We'll make one should I get a certain amount of money for the local council I said we'll make one.
SPEAKER: M3
So he said I said Well all right Peter what about science fiction. So this guy actually took me under his wing and he taught me a heck of a lot. He was cameraman. He was director. He was everything but he took me and a few others under his wing and we started making his other science fiction film. And unfortunately he died a few years ago of a brain tumor. But that man gave me a break and then he gave me gave me another break which I'll never forget. At the time it was around about nineteen fifty six 57. There was a lot of films being made by Norman MacLaren in the National Film Board of Canada of his. His animated his animated films and there was there was a system called Pixar elation.
SPEAKER: M11
I don't know if you remember Pixar nation. It was a system where it was stop stop stop motion. Where people would be shot and instead of them working somewhere they would. Yeah it was cool yeah. Pixar elation. And this was all the rage. And there was a lot of films being made by BFI people as well animated. So he said there's a course a weekend course in. In fact did in Essex a weekend course he said on animation nation where we can go along. He said if you want to come along with me. And he said we're actually going to learn about animation. Now this was all terribly exciting at the time because it was there was so much going on in these sort of experimental areas at the time. At the time you had what was called the Free Cinema Movement with Lindsay Anderson and Carl rice and Tony with all these pictures to be exciting at the time it's all very basic. Technologically it was so simple and people just making films all over the place on 16 mill. I mean Ken Russell started at 60. Well I made a film on his daughter called immediately eight Amelia and the angel which got the top awards at the time. With movie maker magazine and hammer to Sydney World Magazine and Ken Russell started off 16 mil. Tony Richardson. Carl rice Jack Clayton host also 16 now making these experimental. So we went on this weekend cause an announcement on the back of this guy's Villa set motorbike on opinion that I mean have been on motorbike and we went to this fax that we can cinema and we actually there was a Bob Godfrey also got involved with this at the time where people were drawing on film. They actually drew on film and what was supposed to happen. Was that they play a record. That's why you're doing this this weekend. They play a record. And in this particular case it was Chazz McDavid skiffle group Nancy whiskey and freight train freight train with the record. And what we had to do was get the beat worked out and then we'd actually draw. We had 16 male film blank film and we'd draw o n it or paint on it an image that we thought this to put in our minds and we're divided about six teams of two to three people each day and we plonk on there where the beat came worked it out with a number of frames.

End of Side 1

Side 2

SPEAKER: M2
All work it out. The number of frames then the idea was to splice all strips of film together for the six teams. Play it back on a projector and just see who's got it right. Who got it wrong. And it's quite amazing that everybody got this beat right and all the images were different but the beat was there although they played the record back as well and the beat was there. I was sure it was. And to see your own work on the screen which you've painted onto a blank piece of sixteen little film and joined with a lot of other peoples and all these ideas images that I looked at that was incredible actually amazing.
SPEAKER: M3
When we finished that course most about the films on whether we actually had that we were given the film. And this guy this teacher carried on helping me. He had no reason to hold me to know me except for an introduction. But then he gave then he that was so those two breaks you've given me. One was to actually get involved with doing something or be on a snow covered roof not knowing how to focus a projector. Secondly taking me on this weekend imagine someone taking a total stranger virtually taking new video today. What would the person but my mother. Good. Okay what was I early. No one gave it a thought. And then he gave me my really big break. So it gave me three. Which I've always been grateful to him for. And I was very sad when I heard he died of a brain tumor because without that guy I would never have started.
SPEAKER: M5
Never got out of that rat race. I've never been out to get out of that parochial. This guy gave me the break.
SPEAKER: M7
He was going to. He was going up to Colchester to a lecture by the late Dr. Roger Manville who was.
SPEAKER: M5
Chairman of the British Film Academy at the time.
SPEAKER: M6
And Lou said to me I can't go because I got a ticket. He said Would you like to go in my place. I said Yeah. Because I was then heavily into film books. I was heavily into reading my first book was Dr. Roger Marvel's film in the public which I still got a pelican paper I think is pelican. And I was very heavy into the theory of film at the time very heavy into the history of film at the time. So I said I'd love to go.
SPEAKER: M4
You said well could take my ticket. Yes I'll give you a tip. You should ask him. Ask him outright. Get him after the talk and ask me if he can help you with a job somewhere.
SPEAKER: M3
Can to introduce you to somebody somewhere. Well of course with me right next to me. Manville was a big big wig and I went to listen to the lecture. I did. I went up to it afterwards trembling at the knees. I told him I was and I said I've got this ticket from this teacher who actually Marvel near because Marvel actually was supporting his teacher in his work of bringing introducing film into school with two classes a man who is the British Film Academy was actually helping him which is why he knew him and Manville said to me I'll see what I can do. Richard I can't promise anything. I talk to a few people. He said What do you want to do I said anything. So eventually had a letter back from Manville asking me to go and be interviewed by John Huntley who was then head of film appreciation of the British Film Institute when they were in Tottenham Court Road. And he said I can't promise anything but I mentioned your name because I understand that Mr Huntley is looking for someone to work in that film library. What was then in Denmark Street Tin Pan Alley. You said go and see him. So I made the appointment of course to me this was a big thing to come up to London. My stepfather gave me a word of advice which I took which I've never forgotten. Probably the only thing he did give me. He said you're going up to London you could be offered the job. They said Take up your work clothes with your new jeans and carry it back. And you said they say when can you start. You say now. I said I'll come on local office. You don't know. So I did. I put a long jumper in and I put jeans and a carrier bag went up met John Huntley who I still meet today I still see him today got on very well my old boss my first boss interviewed think Oh I'd be fired I said to a secretary as a kid I leave my carrier bag here. Yes I went to see John. He interviewed me he said Well that is I think you'll do is it can only offer you five pounds a week. So that's what we're offering. So it didn't matter di dn't matter. They said When can you start. I said now. And it looked like a suit obviously. INTERVIEWER suit. He looked at me and he said to me now I so-called carry a bag outside won't carry a bag. I said I'll show you. So I brought it. He said Oh my God. Come on then come on. So he took me round it I'll show you we're gonna work. And he took me round from Great Russell Street where his office was to Tin Pan Alley introduce me to the man who ran that department who's still with the BFI I believe. And he said this lad starting with you now. So they all looked to me in my suit. And he said he's got his work cut in his carrier bag. Where can he change.
SPEAKER: M4
And they all round about if they never had this before. So I changed and I started work that morning with the BFI. In their former present department which of course was manna from heaven for me because here I was in the middle of all these films. Course we also service the National Film Theatre the original National Film Theatre the old telly Kinnaman Film Festival Britain. That was the original national film. So we service that with films. And of course then I had to find somewhere to stay. I couldn't I didn't know anyone to do anything in London so they could. So the BFI had a policy of trying to help where they could but I couldn't find anything at that moment. So I said to John. I said Do you mind if I sleep here for a few nights in the office under the cutting room bench on the mailbox. And he said you can't do that. He said you can't do that officially but he said I haven't heard what you said. So I did. So I slept the first week on the mail bags in the verifies cutting of und er the cutting room bench when an alarm clock. Because I had to get up before the cleaner came round.
SPEAKER: M9
What year was this during his 1957 sermon. Right. At some stage. You must tell us about the BFI in those days. Yes I'm sure it was all very new and fresh to. So I can remember quite clearly what would be if I like was in those days a damsel better than it is today.
SPEAKER: M6
Is now too bureaucratic too big. It's. The BFI has lost its way. As far as I'm concerned. The BFI was relatively new at the time. It was a fun place to work. It went really well. Pete the people in the BFI at the time.
SPEAKER: M1
It had its hierarchy its management hierarchy. I think Stanley Reed was ahead of it at the time. John Huntley was head of film appreciation. Department. And the National Film Theatre was run by Lesley Hardcastle who was recently retired I believe.
SPEAKER: M4
And the chief projectionist at the National Film Theatre. The original Ramblers Charlie Betto who is still at the National Film Theatre as a consultant still there. Charlie was the chief. And they had and they were all very closely integrated so we had the National Film Theatre. The film appreciation department volts which is where I was the film appreciation department offices which were in great Russell Street which John ran. My boss in the vaults of the library I should say was my uncle Frank Holland who is now at the BFI faults at Aston Clinton in Buckinghamshire just where they had the nitrate bombs. We had nitrate film. The National Film Theatre at the time was the only cinema allowed to show nitrate film because it was a club and it was the only cinema allowed show nitrate film. And the main administrative headquarters of the fire was in Charles Avenue when they had another little cinema private cinema which we serviced as well and often used to go round there and help in the box. And they showed previews of films they were thinking of purchasing or what have you. So I was very fortunate to be able to see these films also helping the box. I got to got to know about projection work and rewinding What have you and of course the difficulty of rewinding the time was whether you split spoils. And also I learn very quickly the art of it isn't art to rewind 35. No film is not. And of course repairing film as well. And the way the story is that at the time in those days you can always if you met a stranger at a party or club on one of the pub you can always tell a projectionist. A professional 35 no projectionist because you'd ask to look you say work in the business and you'd also look at their hand you say are you right handed or left handed right handed. It indeed I'm right handed. And you look at their finger and thumb and you see the scars of battle. Scars of battle were. Either hope to prevail which way they want to do it but I would do it with the right h and and use the left hand to check the film. So the film. And so he's got a broken sprocket hole. Or a. Broken splice in Splice take a chunk of a finger you know you'd found that you wiped blood up afterwards but that was the only way at the time that you would check film. So why did you. Because if you in a hurry you want it far surpassed postmaster and that these things were coming through like razors especially old films like The be if I had where they were literally falling apart. Some of those films that they had some the prints had. So you find out the hard way to go to look at an eye. My fingers were criss crossed my thumbs crisscrossed with scars from projection work most projections did at the time there's no other way of checking it. That's the only way to do it. So we had the head of privates in another.
SPEAKER: M5
There was a genuine desire of the time a genuine love of film by the BFI everyone of the BFI at the time not and they had a wonderful book library then which I borrowed books from and read up on biographies and techniques.
SPEAKER: M6
But I also had another advantage because I was working in the library. The film library. We had all the classic films on 16 the old classic tomes. So I used to spend every evening downstairs in the cellar showing myself these films. John you are doing it. So I sit down I'm just watching. I was in my element. I was watching all the classic films learning learning about technique and what have you. And I showed them on an old g b l 5 1 6 projector 60 mill projector. There was a lot of those around it on the X Admiralty projectors. And B if I had one downstairs they also had a bell and how 16 mil I think is a 6 0 1 0 6 0 2. Now over the years I made it a point that I wanted to have one of those projectors myself. I've now got them looking at book fairs what happened I've now got a debris 16 mill I've got a GPL 5 1 6 I picked up an option for about 20 quid and I've got a bet now 6 0 1 16 real projector. So I got the three projects I worked on as a kid and the bailiff I thought was the wo nderful days while days and then came the blow when John could I still had the National Service hanging over my head. John said I'm sorry but we have the opportunity to take a lead on who is not going to go for national service and he can be on a permanent basis and we'll have to let you go. I'm not very bright. The guy who took over from me is now quite a famous. Director.
SPEAKER: M3
Specialising in jazz films jazz music John Jeremy. John is very much around and he's fresh light in jazz films. John John took over for me. But John Huntley he said I'll try and find someone else for you to be a boy. So they actually got me into the National Film Theatre as a trainee projectionist. So I went down there. And that was a hoot down there because to be a trainee projectionist at the National Film Theatre at the time was a nightmare because of the films they showed different films and of course they also ran the amateur film competitions as well. And they way I did two top eight comment by the top 16 and top topic competitions and of course the film just to come in and.
SPEAKER: M6
With Tape accompaniments with bits and pieces and Kumar. So it was a nightmare trying to show these films. And at the time. Charlie Betto who was chief. Taught me. All I knew about projection. Machines I worked on were.
SPEAKER: M2
35 most real machines were Beatty supers PTA super carbon OK. We also had one of the first xenon Phillips 16 mil machine because we had to have a we had to have an arc lamp 60 mg because of the throat obviously couldn't use a debris as um because the throw was quite considerable.
SPEAKER: M6
That was great in order to get the throw yours and the definition as well. So it was um it wasn't a carbon machine it was a Xenon lamp machine which is very similar. We had that and eventually Charlie allowed me to. Do my first changeover which was quite something to a paying audience. It's quite something because I pardon expression shitting myself because I knew if I made it because the National Film theatres were pretty much on a par with at the time Western cinemas projectionist at the Western cinemas at the time. They made one mistake one mistake they were out because everybody expected for West innocent and us. To have absolute spot on perfect protection.
SPEAKER: M9
Unlike today unlike today when you have to go and say the film is out of Iraq.
SPEAKER: M10
Yeah exactly. Ah today when I brought the first cakes and I mean that was the end of the presentation was vital absolutely vital presentation.
SPEAKER: M6
And we had different chiefs had different ways of presenting films some would show this certificate honours on the Thames before they put them back others would pull the towers back but the certificate on lights would come down at different points some pretty cheeks would light the house lights down before this different came. Others know that there was the art of presentation in those days because I was shitting myself because Charlie said to me on one one day I said okay. I said type your first change over. This was like sort of going your first solo flight. Same principle. I was worried sick because you you had to. I don't know how one would explain it really for people who haven't done it.
SPEAKER: M2
They wouldn't know what was going through your stomach because you had to watch so you'd have the two machines you'd be between the two machines. And he took me to the lacing up everything so you laced up. The first machine had that going. Then you light up a second machine making sure that everything was at the gate the right. What was it number seven of a number rising on the leader within the gate. And then you check everything through. I know it might. My hands were shaking. I was doing this because I thought God if I don't know if I've missed out on something that goes wrong what's gonna happen it goes well. And laced up and then you had a Q Mark problem top right hand corner of the screen. The Q marks. Some of the films that I had down there were very old films. So they'd been around the world a lot and they had thousands of Q marks on top article.
SPEAKER: M7
So Charlie said to Mater right you watch the first Q Mark and those you start them after. So you're standing that you had your actual change of a button was in front of his eyes looking through the porthole watching the film change of a button and your number two machines ready to go. So so the first Kumar came up bang motor on second machine running and then you wait for the second came out to come up and hopefully hopefully everything stopped on that one and cut in on that one and no one could see the join. That was the idea. I when I had my first one I did my first change.
SPEAKER: M4
It went beautifully and I said that wasn't so bad was it. And it's just like doing your first solo flight. They just happen to call. And then he let me do other things and then they pulled a real flanker on me. The rest of the boys in the box was they would they would then just started to build the present national film theatre and the Waterloo Bridge. I just started to build that and someone of the BFI had the bright idea of making a film record of this being built. Fair enough. So they assigned 16 millimeter Bollocks bollocks 816 camera to Charlie. And they said right you make this film with your boys and your lunch breaks or whatever. When you're off but just go across a couple of dates on film a bit and we see it coming up. So Charlie said OK so Charlie with director and cameraman the second the second rejectionist. He was assistant director and I was general dog's body kinda lights. And generally humping stuff around. And on one one occasion Charlie said. We're going across to d o a bit more filming.
SPEAKER: M6
We'll be back in time to open the show. You stay and look after things. Now I don't know. I have seen Charlie since I saw him about a year ago that I should get a drink and he told me this that he'd done this on purpose because what they wanted to do was to blood me into opening the show myself then become a fully fledged projects and open in other words you've got to put the music down over the tabs while the house lights down. Get the machine going. Everything's got to be done. You do it yourself. So I didn't notice. So I waited there. I'm looking at my my watch the shows about this all laced up ready to go. No one no one appears. No one appears. So I'm still sitting there. Up came the message from the downstairs from the house manager. Are we ready to go.
SPEAKER: M3
So all I could say was yes good because Leslie Hall cos it was a tough taskmaster down there. Again he had to be because it was a prestige cinema. OK. Came to two o'clock I suppose to start. Still no sign of Charlie or anyone else. I'm there by myself.
SPEAKER: M2
So I took a deep breath wracked my brains with a sequence of events for that music down Fader house lights projector on check they focus check the sound level etc and did it.
SPEAKER: M4
I was the bill been on about five minutes in came Charlie and the others. They should I say we started the show then I said Yeah. I was really feeling faint because the responsibility for me at that time was quite tremendous.
SPEAKER: M3
And he said Oh good. Let's just check everything. Good focus good sound level good. Everything okay. Check it on now. And that was it. I had blood on my Charlie. If I'd been very good to me which would published my book. That the BFI is a different ballgame no different book. It's a political game now. In those days it was a fun game.
SPEAKER: M9
Well it's a self-serving bureaucracy now totally inward looking for me mad. Absolutely. I find it very sad. But I think everyone is very disenchanted with me.
SPEAKER: M10
I think that I think they are. I. I can't complain about. The way they.
SPEAKER: M5
Did the book. I'm not too happy about the way they've. Marketed the book. They're not into marketing.
SPEAKER: M9
They're extremely unprofessional. Hang about. Come.
SPEAKER: M14
Okay. Yes. I must say that I'm going back to what we were saying earlier about kids not having the freedom today. I mean the sort of things we did when I used to go to the cinema all those many times a week because we had the certificates which was the basis for the X the a the you.
SPEAKER: M11
Know the booking people used to put a U certificate film with a nice difficult film which meant that you had to go in with accompanied by an adult. And we used to queue up outside the Odeon interactive and we'd be about seven eight nine ten of us and we're used to accost adults who are going in and ask them if they take us in or take me in.
SPEAKER: M2
So you take it in turns you say. And it came to one one particular occasion I even thought anything of it. I mean it's quite normal to be done. The managers knew this that strictly speaking you are supposed to have your own kids when you went in.
SPEAKER: M10
But then they all went on their glorious outside and everyone used to do it.
SPEAKER: M12
And on one occasion was my turn and this lady came out by herself to go in so I went up to her and as excuse me miss but would you mind taking me in please. Which of the usual things you said. No of course not. Well she looked at that your friends over there as well. Yes they are actually. They're waiting to be too far she's come I'll take you all in.
SPEAKER: M10
She trooped with nine kids and the manager who thought Hang on. This is a bit but this is going a bit too far. You know I think you went over you went over to her she got the tickets we all got the tickets.
SPEAKER: M12
We came with the money for the tickets. And as we're trooping in to have the tickets it he said Excuse me madam forgive me for asking but these are all your children.
SPEAKER: M14
And she looked at him very cold which is it. I beg your pardon. Oh nothing about him so I. It's all right. So we went in and when we're in of course the usual thing was to disperse. Once you in the auditorium whoever you are with whoever taken you in New you say well thank you very much for bringing us in. Do you mind if we sort of go sit somewhere else. All of a sudden as nine kids dispersed. Look I know directions and the the other dodge that we heard which is quite a neat one actually all to do with ticket colours. We just got the cheap seats obviously which was at the time one and threepence. The cheap seat in Odeon. And there's a shilling in Isolde but one of London's Rodin I was thought that was a bit off. But the one in front row tickets were mauve. The next color up was for the middle storms which is one of nine points. They were green. And then you had the back storms which was two in France.
SPEAKER: M6
So your three price ranges and the circle was astronomical price of three shillings offline and sixpence. So what we what we used to do was we got our cheap ticket our mauve ticket our mauve one and from me ticket walking. And then you'd have your ticket torn by an usher it in front of two doors. Then you'd walk through those two doors about 12 feet to another set of doors where there's another Usher and I would check your ticket with a torch and then show you to your seat. So what we did we realized that people when they came out of the cinema threw their tickets away which most of us did. Presley on the floor. So what we did but no one was looking. We would pick up the stubs of the green tickets which are on the floor. And then what we would do is where we got our most ticket and our most ticket had been torn in half of the first set of doors.
SPEAKER: M12
We would swap it for the green stub we had when we got to the second set of doors so the estimate would see the Green ticket and put us in a little circle. And I had one stub of a green ticket which I used must have been about hundred and fifty times.
SPEAKER: M14
I kept the same stub so we would swap these tickets over. I would always end up the middle middles middle the stores. Having bought the cheap ticket but you could do those sort of things then. Were harmless stuff but you could do it.
SPEAKER: M6
And use it and fought with the continuous performances of course people would see to where they came in as I said before and then they'd get up and I want to go going up and down up and down like yo yos. But it was it was fun going to the set of all that. It really was fun. And especially your local cinema because you got to know the usher. Reg my first girlfriend was an usher and she used to kind of sit next to me when the main feature was on the last time she saw him and her father was the commissioner.
SPEAKER: M12
So when we go well I used to go round by myself all these times and be queuing outside those days of course you did queue regularly to go into the cinema. You're quite happy to queue in the rain to go see your film. He will come out the commissioner in his. Uniform his pick you shall do it one night till 1 2 2 3. And he'd see me standing. Way back in the queue. And he'd come along stand beside me. And I go up to the box office and the girl at the boxer. I also knew. So she knew what would happen and she just gave me a ticket and they'd find me a seat somewhere at the back on the side knowing full well that when the feature was on his daughter Aisha was going to come and sit beside me.
SPEAKER: M14
So I have his seat. And that added to the fun of the thing. Except that I wanted to see the film. Believe me oh believe me not Roy. I did really want to see the film. And nine times out of ten I didn't see that much to her annoyance but I thought I better keep her happy because it's a good system and indeed influence.
SPEAKER: M15
Well there you are the NFTE the the previous fifty million in one.
SPEAKER: M14
Well then when I left there went back so I could afford to starve and. Well then I got clobbered for national service.
SPEAKER: M12
Again. Bit of luck I suppose I was I put myself down for a 16 mm projector course poor exam because they had then at the time they had a special unit which was a promotions unit. This is what we are money. This is a r f f account. And I found that I could apply for this projectionists exam which if I was successful I could be put into this unit. So either way I'll try anything.
SPEAKER: M7
I resented going for national service. I think most people resented not because they not in my case not because I resented the forces it was the fact that people say ah well you only lost two years of your life you didn't. You lost five years basically because first of all when you came out of school I didn't stay on the school. I came out at 16 you couldn't get a decent job at the time because they knew you were going to go in two years time because in those days of course you did. If you've got a job there's not a work cell phone and very little unemployment you've got a job. There's lots of opportunities for jobs. And you stayed with the firm you stayed with where you had your job you stayed there for years and years in those days when we left school. I remember our headmaster saying to us what our ambitions should be should white lads why is a mixed school. That is right.
SPEAKER: M6
You're leaving here you said your ambition should be a thousand a year which was twenty pounds a week which was a lot of money. And that was what the civil servants are getting the local authority getting so that was our ambition twenty pounds a week. And that was what he told us. But you want to do that you had to work your way up to whichever job you went in. And also you had apprenticeship schemes then for kids where they were the only people who could get a deferment or national service. So when if you if you were lucky enough to be taken on as an apprentice at an engineering firm or whatever you had a five year apprenticeship you would stay there for five years then you do your national service for weeks like me and others who didn't have an apprenticeship. We had to get a job somewhere. But you couldn't get a decent job because they knew they're going to lose you after a year and a half or two years for national service. So you really bummed around for two you might get window cleaning and you had the bum around because you didn't want the embarrassment of signing on at what they called in the labour exchange. Now it's got fancy name etc. But in those days the language changed. I went on the labour exchange immediately on leaving school for about three months and there is an experience I didn't want to repeat because at that time bearing in mind that was 1956 sorry forty when I left school there was still the remnants.
SPEAKER: M7
Of the first World War guys are being gassed who are on the Navy Exchange. And when I went there I heard them coughing their guts up and I was the only youngster there and I felt very embarrassed by it. But you lost two years of national service. You lost maybe a year and a half two years leaving school and then you fell another year to get a job. When you came out from national service every natural fair you could lose four to five years not two years. So it's very tough. OK I went on a projectionist course which was at Africa housing Kings Way and went on a 60 mile projectors had passed. No problem. So then I was assigned to Air Ministry. Which had a promotions division information division which was based at our F.. And I found it was still very much RAAF base at the time. So I was as I was posted to our have handed after doing some more basic training but then I went very offended and that was great fun because I spent my whole national service literally traveling around the coun try with a team promoting the Air Force which I felt was rather. Invidious considering I was there for national service not promoting the Air Force as a full time career for people. And what we had our own portable cinema me and two other projections I will you around the country. I was on the schoolboys art exhibition when I had to go to adult court. I was on Idol Homes Exhibition went up to Yorkshire and over to Ireland promoting the Air Force Battle of Britain celebrations and what we did we showed films show training films promotional films and I was using 60 mil Bella now Project at the time. So I spent the whole of my national service on national service pay which is about one pound two shillings a week but we had subsistence allowances given to us for accommodation. And of course what we did got the cheapest possible accommodation and kept the money from that money. I bought myself my complete eight mill equipment camera projector. Etc cetera so my national service paid my eq uipment which I still got.
SPEAKER: M3
And that was why I spent national service. I mean there are lots of stories I could tell about national service and film but in. The very hairy stories but that was the way I spent my national service then coming out of there.
SPEAKER: M11
I obviously decided not to go home so I wanted to get digs in London and try to get into business. I must admit at the time I had been having several run ins with them AC DC AC DC was the. Ticket a union ticket who did not who did not with George Alvin.
SPEAKER: M2
And Co. So I couldn't get a ticket so I just carried on plugging away. One of the strangest things that happened to me when I did go home for a short time I must admit when I was trying to work out what I was going to do after the airforce After national service and while I was at home my stepfather had got talking to somebody in Clacton. And he this person gave me an introduction to the managing director of the Republic Pictures. Who were in Soho Square almost next door to where the city office was if they were on the corner of service American republic La Raza Republic Pictures Herbert J. Yates and Co. And his wife Vera Ralston who appeared in all his films that and the IRA rules. That's right. The only claim to fame I think Herbert J Yates had was that he did actually make John Wayne films the early films flooded John Wayne and into some of his great Westerns. But apart from that. They were terrible. But this guy gave me introduction. I came up to London again. Went into Republic' s office. The secretary went in to see the managing director.
SPEAKER: M12
Who I had the appointment with for an interview she came out she said be with you in a moment wait a few minutes. He came out he said Excuse me sir but do you mind waiting. I said. Of course not. I said I'm waiting for a phone call. From Mr. Yates. In America. They said that phone call will tell me whether I still have a job. Or in fact whether we still have a company. I thought.
SPEAKER: M10
Great. I've come all the way from Clacton to hear this. So I sat there. About half an hour later the phone rang. I could hear it ring his office. Oh. Maybe let's call.
SPEAKER: M13
It put the phone down. It came out.
SPEAKER: M10
Put his coat on. And as he got his way out is it. Well okay. Thanks for coming up. He said.
SPEAKER: M6
The company's just gone. He said I'm not looking for a job.
SPEAKER: M10
I said. Great. There's nothing else I could say. Nothing else I could do. So I went back home again. I must have wanted to had to get out. I said. I don't know. I'm not quite sure. What happened there. I said it didn't give me a job. I told you what happened is it of our God. That's one of the sort of weird experiences of my life. That was a coming of an interview and then having the company go on here the day you were actually there and your wife. And that was when Republic went down the drain. So they did work out too well but the only job that I've actually ever applied for.
SPEAKER: M2
Is the one I applied for with rank. Shortly after that because all the other jobs I've had in the industry have been through people being told to say the right place at the wrong place at the right time or whatever and can actually handle this one I saw advertised and I applied for it and it was with rank film distributors in Warner street. And it was just record clerk clerks job. So I applied for it.
SPEAKER: M11
I didn't have to go for an interview as such. I just sent off his CV such as he was and then came back and said we could start you at seven pounds a week. Reporter personnel was on Saturday. So I did and I start with rank. It was good time good time because right at the time it was 50 58.
SPEAKER: M2
58 right. Of course were going great guns at the time in terms of their film production and distribution. And of course they had the clout the films I had Genevieve and doctor the house but they were also distributing Universal Pictures universally internationally. They were so we we're looking after universal international as well for the U.K. distribution.
SPEAKER: M11
So I started to learn all about film distribution which itself was quite a fascinating game at the time especially when you were trying to locate where your prints are gone especially in the middle of Ireland. You never saw him again. So we also saw the same crappy prints over there. The worst prints we could find is in Ireland because we knew that the prints would never come back. So it disappears into a box somewhere. And the guy who ran the department the time was a guy called Albert Pizer a tyrant absolute tyrant.
SPEAKER: M12
Find a knife Allawi and everybody else got a big department that Fred Turner was still empty. Fred was. Fred wasn't anybody at the time but Fred was involved very much. At times I was tired tired of the time because. He was a cut out screen across the room because we had one guy who was over all of us on the tiniest screen for this guy. And then he come out and go through all these big log books where we had the records of where the prints were of all the films and he'd pull them out as well murder. But I got on well with him for some reason because I. Didn't actually show and I was scared of him. And I used to come back with repartee. Which is something you hadn't really had. And he loved it. He loved it come out and push me out the way. To get to a book and I'd say angry Bruce silly things like that but he looked at me and he smiled because I wasn't sure that I was afraid of him. I was petrified but I thought well bit. So he was it was okay but. So I stayed there for a couple of ye ars and then I thought I've got to get out I must get into production I want to get to production I want to get to a studio. And at the time there was a company formed called Allied filmmakers.
SPEAKER: M11
With Jack Hawkins Guy Green.
SPEAKER: M6
I think Brian Conover I think he was I think he was initially I think he was Brian Hall. Yes I think he was because Brian I think he was Guy Guy Green and Jack Hawkins definitely this is one of the first. I suppose it was very much on us on a par with.
SPEAKER: M3
The United Artists type setup where you had an actor and director and right off got together I think this are the early days of the independent production companies over here and allied film makers was formed. And I thought What the hell I will write to somebody and ask them. And I wrote I was going to write Jack Hawkins. I couldn't find his address.
SPEAKER: M11
I couldn't find out anything about it. So instead I wrote the letter to Guy Green and Guy Green wrote back to me and said I understand what you're trying to do.
SPEAKER: M6
And I started a table myself in the studios so I know what you're trying to do is it's very very difficult very difficult. But he said I will have a word. With someone. And he said Don I can't promise anything please after I get back to you next thing I hear is that there's a letter from Guy Green which said what I care to contact Andy worker who was managing director of Shepperton Studios which of course where allied film makers made guy Green made most of his films. Being an independent studio who would like to see you. There's nothing implied in this but he was willing to talk to you. So I thought Crikey. So I went down took a day off from rank went down to Shepparton and there I was for the first time in life actually inside a studio. Let's break

End of Side 2

Side 3

SPEAKER: M1
This is tape two of Derek Fred go right before we go on to your work at Shepperton. Let's backtrack a moment to your time at the BFI and you said you you know.
SPEAKER: M2
I'll start again. You knew a lot of the people working in the Free Cinema Movement at that time. Let's just talk about that.
SPEAKER: M16
Yeah. What have happened over the French Cinema Movement. You had.
SPEAKER: M12
Directors. I think it's a misnomer actually the title I don't think it was ever an official title what was just a generic title for something which had developed at the time but it is very exciting I found. Bearing in mind I was still feeling my way in the business but being at the National Film Theater the original National Film Theater I had the opportunity to meet several. Of the. Directors. At the time all the people involved with so-called Free Cinema. The ones I saw most of Lindsay Anderson and I met Walter latterly not to talk to as such because I was still the I was still the junior there the boy in the box but they were there and I found that Lindsay Anderson I got on very well with and he and I kept in touch for many years.
SPEAKER: M3
On and off afterwards. I was very sad to hear that he died. Lindsay I thought was he was on for terrible films at the time. He made some films for Ford documentaries for Ford trucks. And he was always in trouble. Lindsay always in trouble because he he made for example a film called I think was every day except Christmas which was about Covent Garden Market the old Covent Garden market. And he imposed his own style on this particular film so much so that Ford got very annoyed apparently because he only showed his supposed to be a promotional film for Ford trucks which were used a Covent Garden and he only showed if I remember rightly one shot of a Ford name on the front of a truck. The whole film he made a film called O dreamland which is about dreamland market. And that caused a furor because he showed everybody looking absolutely miserable. The film. They tried to ban it. Margaret is trying to ban it. Lindsay was that sort of character.
SPEAKER: M1
Are you sure about Ford. Because my recollection of. So-called institutional films of those days sponsors were very very lenient. All they really wanted the kudos of the film itself as much as what we would call product placement. Yes I think with Ford what Lindsay I believe used to do. He would submit. A script. And a budget. Get that accepted.
SPEAKER: M3
And then go and do his own thing. And of course the people who are backing him would expect to see the finished film. As per the script that they'd had and turned out to be something different. But what Lindsay was doing is imposing his own style on the film. I thought his films were very good because we showed them often at the national press. He is very tolerant good very talented filmmaker and he was always in trouble though he was always in trouble. But the other film which I remember clearly from so called Free cinema was a film made by I think it's a jointly made by Carl rice and Tony Richardson on 16 million and there's a film called.
SPEAKER: F3
Mama don't allow. And it was shot in Wood Green jazz center with Chris Barber's band. And it was a marvellous little film just about a jazz club and the kids enjoying themselves. But there was a style about it. You could see.
SPEAKER: M10
You could see these people breaking new ground. You could see people like Jack Clayton when he when he made. I don't think this is part of the Free cinema in the same thinking was going when he made the bespoke overcoat the short which John both sucked in before Jack went on to bigger things. But you could see what's sadly I could see the results of the Free Cinema Movement in the British so-called message films that came out later the features the trilogy of room at the top with Jack LEAHY Look Back In Anger to Tony.
SPEAKER: M5
Richardson. Yes. What was it.
SPEAKER: M10
And Saturday night Sunday morning just go right and I could certainly see feeding through those films. What was going on when they were making films of 60 mil that is trying to establish their style and they carried it through so the free so-called Free Cinema Movement to me was a very important development. A very underrated development people tend to dismiss it. I don't think they should.
SPEAKER: M2
I'm I'm not. No I agree with you I think it has its place in history. I think it's recognised. I think they were all quite recently on Channel 4 for example.
SPEAKER: M8
Well I hope so because I think it should be recognised. Channel 4 is a marvellous channel for archive material.
SPEAKER: M16
Very now I would hope it would be recognised and the death of Lindsay recently and Jack Layton Of course. I was only speaking to Jack on the telephone some months ago about being interviewed for the book on Shepperton and Jack was quite happy to do that.
SPEAKER: M13
I mean well beyond that later on.
SPEAKER: M16
I was very sad to hear that he he died because these I mean cow rises to around Tony Richardson of course is dead. So there's that on Fletcher's death. JOHN FLETCHER There are very few survivor songs very young actually in the 50s and yet so you know it's a period of British film.
SPEAKER: M10
History. I think in a way is on a par. With the grace period but documentary very similar type of background and people were trying to express themselves trying to get a new a new style.
SPEAKER: M5
And I I was brought up on that and I was very impressed by it or what I saw that influenced me greatly in terms of my own interpretation of picture making it. That style of picture make I mean room at the top to me is one of my all time favorite films. When I first saw it on release in gold as greenhouse in the Air Force at the time and my mate myself went to see it we came out shell shocked. Absolutely shell shock because it's broken complete new grilled at that time.
SPEAKER: M2
Well this is what was going on in this country. I missed all that because I was in the States but it was what was going on in the theatre and there was cross-fertilization.
SPEAKER: M16
Tony Richardson for example was at the Royal Court and also at Shepperton and on West go the royal court in the Royal Court was spawning so many of these characters. And I'm glad they did. Because you had to have a shakeup somewhere along the line.
SPEAKER: M2
But I do think you're underestimating the recognition.
SPEAKER: M19
It really was a matter of the angry young turks meet Pinewood was yeah.
SPEAKER: M2
He came near Pinewood with a vested interest of reaction and turgid rubbish in those days for the most part.
SPEAKER: M14
Well most most of the rank films at the time in the 50s and 60s.
SPEAKER: M16
Well what one calls safe they were safe commercial pictures with one or two except no delivery. Well yeah. They weren't very commercially is probably what they were supposed to be say in commercial pictures.
SPEAKER: M3
The one one or two broke McGrath I think victim was very very good for very courageous film to make.
SPEAKER: M1
Yes yes there were one or two minutes to spare but on the whole the policy of the company at that time was to say safe and it was a very unenlightened uninformed management under John Daley.
SPEAKER: M3
That's right. And also when you remove to Shepparton you look at the track record of Shepparton and you look at the films that came in that evil at that time even with the ACTU films that were made there I was there when they were made.
SPEAKER: M1
And well let's not anticipate. Why didn't we not go back to your first day at Shepparton let's take it from there.
SPEAKER: M3
Okay. Well the first Shepparton was a hoot. First of all as I said only. I went out to see him he couldn't find anything. He rang around the post room because obviously I was prepared to start from a script from the boss. There was nothing. So he said I'm sorry I can't offer you anything at the moment. Leave it with me and I'll see what comes up.
SPEAKER: M13
I thought back to rank. I thought no more about it. Until I had a letter from him but six months later.
SPEAKER: M16
Say would you care to come to us to see our Mr Rule. Here's the studio manager studio manager was Bill. Andy worker was the managing director general manager. He wasn't he was the managing director. He was managing director Bill rule was the studio manager. And of course it was in lighting this was 1960 beginning of 1960. Is this pre or post Bentley. This is pre bent treatment events. Right. So I went down. Bill role was a character. He ran that studio as manager.
SPEAKER: M3
Virtually with a rod of iron. Andy was because Andy was a production ex production manager. On on features. So Andy knew the production side Bill was not a production man. He wasn't an administrator. No problem there. Because the two work together. And Bill. Was a taskmaster a tyrant in his own way but very fair. I went down to see him and he said we have a vacancy.
SPEAKER: M4
Next door in the operating office I said I know would help any of us want. He said we had a young man in there. He said We have his left. He said We have a vacancy there. I said I'll bring in the boss there to see as I brought in what was to be my boss guy called Harold Taylor who was the Operating Office Manager. Harold had been there for some time for some years.
SPEAKER: M10
And I was introduced to him and Bill said What do you think Harold.
SPEAKER: M13
Oh yeah. Bill said. What about money. No. I had told my friends at rank because I was going that I had an increase I was up to eight pounds a week.
SPEAKER: M5
Which is a lot of money for me. At the time. I was living in London and looking after myself and paying Dixon what I mean. And I said to the boys that it was going down to Shepperton for this interview didn't tell the boss Pizer. I said I'm prepared to take a drop in money. Just to get it if necessary. If they offer me less I'll take it. I said okay. So I went out expecting to be paid less. Bill Rowe said we can offer you thirteen pounds a week. I never fell off my chair. So I tried to keep cool about the whole thing. They said When can you start. I said well I wasn't into that with a carrier bag there and I said well I had to give notice in order to rank. Probably about. Well I said can you leave it with me and I'll check what notice they want. Yes. All right. It's said one word of warning. It said that job in there that job there they said is tough. I was then 21. I just celebrated my 21st birthday by buying myself a projector a tough. I suggest you said the young man who was there before you said he will after six months. He's had a nervous breakdown. And. I'm telling you that now. Yeah I'll take it I'll take it. I've determined that I was actually going to take this. So is it OK. Go back. So what's it about with wreckage. Call me. Richard where are you living now. You're not in your gate. The Holland Park index. He said we will get a van up there to bring your stuff down. We'll find accommodation down. So I went back to rank went into Albert Pizer trembling and into his office and the first time a bit in his office. And I said I had an offer.
SPEAKER: M7
To work at Shepperton Studios. Oh is it. You want to leave us. I said No I don't. I said I'm happy here. I said Well I'm happy with you. But he said obviously you want to get on production. I said yes. Patient you want to take it. I said What sort of notice would you need. To look. This. Is an opportunity for you. Take it go. Well it's best for you. Don't worry about the notice but Oh thank you. But he said I'll tell you this. Is it. I will miss you here. You could have stayed with us and you'd have gone through the organization as I'm sure you were going to Pinewood. Well I'm sorry but this is an opportunity. I'd like to take it. And he was very good about.
SPEAKER: M14
I was expecting him to jump on and so eventually I ran back the studios and I can start whenever you want. We fixed a date. I started in April 1960 at the studio.
SPEAKER: M8
They sent a van up and picked up my gear up brought me down and their family digs just outside the studio because obviously in those days the studio had various mandate is they could place people with who are coming in to work.
SPEAKER: M5
And I had a nice old couple with a young lad just outside the studio and they gave me bed and breakfast a room to myself. So I literally about minutes walk in the studio gates which were at that time of course not where they are today. The original studio gates of scribes Bridge Road.
SPEAKER: M9
Now the entrances around the site because I built houses where there were no meaningful use to so changed the I guess since I was there.
SPEAKER: M8
Magically the original gates where you went through the gatehouse that's all gone. There's houses there the actual endless in the studio you go round right round the back of the studio almost to what each day it's a big stage in the entrance there main entrance there. So I was literally one minute. To minute walk.
SPEAKER: F3
Which was marvellous. Of course I was in my element actually even in a studio like a big studio too. So I then went into my first day. Met my boss. And the first day I was there there was a phone call and my boss said there's a strike on a stage. Strike a strike. I thought immediately that everyone to come out. I saw Primus on the first day here and there's a strike. Crikey I wasn't kidding when he said this is a tough job. So my boss I'm going down to a stage. He said You better come with me. Ha. Yeah. So I went down to East expecting to see industrial unrest because of the strike in the set. Now the reason he had to go because the job.
SPEAKER: M3
Was quite an incredible job no doubt about that at all. The operating office was the nerve centre of the studio. That's where everything came through. All requests for officers dressing rooms trouble. Bits and pieces transport anything involved with production requirements came through the office. And at the time they were working flat out in the studio. We had up to ten pages at once working there. A TV beginnings of TV staff TV series with them ATV as ITC and we had second features we had all sorts of things going on. It was pandemonium. And it was a very very tough job because the first job had to do in the morning every single morning come rain or shine was to go round the studio with a huge pad and my boss went round and I'd go with him. And then when he was on holiday later on I took over and did the whole thing myself because I had to take to him during holiday. Second year I was down and let me do it. You had to go into every nook and cranny in the studio. It took about two h ours.
SPEAKER: M10
Every stage and you had to put down his pad. Exactly what everybody was doing. What sets were being built. The reference numbers. So as soon as you get on the stage your first person you ask was the construction manager. He's a guy who knows what's going on. That's if they were building or striking. So the construction manager the first part of protocol and you'd look at the plans I've got. I learned how to look at the plans and. The building plans and identifying sets. I don't define where a set was and then look up and see where it was on the stage. Oh yeah it's over there. And it's very difficult to start off with because as you well know there are bits of sets. There are sections of sets there are composite sets and all this had to be identified on every stage with every production. Not only that having gone through what was then what the four big stages a b c d e f g the smaller stages H stage the big stage. And later on two years later would I stage came from Bolton studios whe n Morgan closed down and then two years later you had J K Stage. So when I started there you had four five six seven eight stages with something going on level empty stage. Then you had to go around the studio a lot the backlot because I've be building bits there as well. So the whole thing would take about two hours every morning. And then you'd submit that to admin. And they cost out and then build. The production at the same time we had. There was only my boss myself. And two secretaries. To run that long. So we had.
SPEAKER: M7
Six telephones on a desk.
SPEAKER: M3
As soon as a picture came in was all we would get notifications such and such. So as I was coming in Bray balls coming in with HMS fine whatever. We would assign it a job a job number and then probably a working title to start off with. Sometimes the working title would end up the release title which is what made it difficult for my book the filmography was a nightmare. So we give it a job number so everything to do with that picture would have that job number and the accounts could identify and then cost out accordingly. Now that included transportation because the transportation I would get shoes I'm in the morning I have a phone call from props I want a three ton Luton van and this is where it's gonna go and they give me a whole list of stuff to take to another telephone a place as this van to go to pick up props for particular picture so I could be laying on maybe four five six seven maybe ten trucks in the morning and then going all over London picking up props I can still remem ber some of the names out Berman's obviously for for costumes baptism for guns in Wickham street I still remember the names I'm doing them every day then you would have maybe what we used do is to borrow things from studios we had the tank of course so Pinewood rank would come and shoot various things about would they had a wonderful time we'd had a wonderful. Gangplank. Thing we were doing on huge Gangplank they had a white added but we had to borrow that. So we'd have to lay on a truck. To pick that up.
SPEAKER: M16
>From Pinewood I'd be a queen mary huge dry that we had all that I had all the firms or the transport firms in the area probably built for the Titanic problem. So I would be laying on vehicles and then I had to them part of my job is to check the bills when they came in. From the car of the truck firms and I had to okay the bills the bills would be for all sorts of things and I soon got to know that all the con cons that some of these people were pulling at the time I mean for example when they made Hell Drivers there Stanley Baker there was a firm in Staines called Huxley's.
SPEAKER: M3
And they supplied all the trucks all the tip of trucks for that film. So I actually made a nice little.
SPEAKER: F1
Mint out of that. No nothing wrong with that. But he found that when they started. The old man started trying to rip you off later on you just go back to him I go back to him and say Listen. Come off it.
SPEAKER: M3
You know what you made an appeal drivers come on. All right. Yes of course but there's all sorts they've got very very political.
SPEAKER: M2
Were you also servicing the independent productions that came in everything that came in every single picture that came in not just British Lion every year.
SPEAKER: M3
Well we are Colombia. Colombia came in guns in Abbey Road was the first picture in it does it come back off location. When I started. On four and of course they've been building the guns set the gun keeps set on the backlog. That was a big picture at the time very people and that gun came it was quite something. It was built outside not other stadiums outside.
SPEAKER: M8
They did interiors. It was staged but the actual gun case set at the end which is black. That was that was some scale that was like. I remember that that was outside. It was around for quite a while wasn't it. I've got two wives unfortunately.
SPEAKER: M3
What happened when I. When I came back off location. They got the cape set ready for shooting.
SPEAKER: M6
They had a thunderstorm. The night before they're due to start shooting and I'll lock them down. Pandemonium. The next morning I came in the usual way.
SPEAKER: M3
Carl form it is absolutely do Lally. The bloody set's fallen down because the rain soaked the plaster and fell down. Could you on it. So literally I was blooded like no nomads because then what we had to do. They had to rebuild the set rebuild the gun case said. But of course they couldn't do anything else so much every day lost is costing money. Carl Foreman is doing his crust way in the operating office. We I actually slept at the studio. For nearly a week didn't go. Because we were then lying on transport to bring in riggers electricians plasterers carpenters from all over London. To rebuild this set. And part of part of my job was to organize the transport and work out the routes based on the addresses that one had. There was a nightmare trying to work out and we were dragging mini buses coaches. But you had to work out your coach a 41 seater coach bike and pick up 41 people now which 41. So you breakdown the addresses in a geographical area and then you start working out where. And then you're going to take it back again. And we were doing it in Rota so that you're bringing one more. To work. Then they go back and another lot coming into a 24 hour operation. We don't have any a week. At the end of it. Didn't give us any time off. Let's carry on back to normal again but it had to be done. The beauty of that I found was that nothing virtually was impossible. You had to do it no matter what you had. I learned very quickly the art of diplomacy and I was only 21. I learned very quickly that I could have a producer come in because the producers would walk into our office that started walking towards the union people walk into her office. Because that's where they had to come. To sort out the problem. So you didn't know she to walk through that door. So on one hand. I would have to say the shop do it. Like you shop do. Gordon natural with an active stop shop do. The studio head walk complaining about something. And you would treat him in the same way he's treatin g you. I mean there'd be a bit of f ing and blinding going on because a lot of the things are staying in mine with all due respect the union and the union there was a very strong ACTU is very strong. He was very strong. ACTU is very strong. But I did see things down there which. Weren't on.
SPEAKER: M6
At all. But that was what it was like. So you had to combat that a battle with that a bit FNM blinded and then you'd have to. Do some walking. John breakwater walking excuse me I have a bit of a problem with my my my office. And then you change your tack to deal with him at his level. So you're doing that all the time and then you'd have the production manager all the production managers.
SPEAKER: M3
Would make themselves known to our office and we'd know who's coming in the name would be put aside right. The first thing we would say when we got notification of a new pitch coming in who's a production manager because he's the one we're going to be dealing with.
SPEAKER: M13
Or she's the one with quite a few female production managers rather than time. Very good.
SPEAKER: M3
Teresa Boland Pat Green very good because you knew that the problems on that production were going to go for the production office and then they come through to us.
SPEAKER: M14
That was the that was the route and we and some of the days without naming names some of the names that came up we got to know them. I sort of got to know them over a period of time and you say who's going to interrupt me and there's a sense I would say Oh. You know we've got to have problems. Others you knew there were others you'd say who's production manager and they say a name is. Ah. That's good. He knows what he's doing and he's excellent. No problems whatsoever because the good production manager would sort his problem more or less himself it was only the bad production managers who passed the buck to us and we knew that if certain production managers.
SPEAKER: M3
Came through to us with a problem we knew that they found it impossible to sell they would have done they were capable of doing but something had happened and they wanted our help. And you bend over backwards to help them and the problems you have with all sorts of laws all sorts of property even the star dressing because when a production came in you also had to allocate your star dress. You had this hierarchy stars supporting so you know the usual thing. So you say Who are the stars and the production manager would always come into us first of all to sit down with us. That's right. These are what I want. My boss myself often sit there and give us his shopping list. Just the production manager also knew the studio. They knew where the best dressing rooms were mostly in the old house. They knew where the best makeup and hair departments were and they'd say that's what they want. But unfortunately of course when you get a studio work you flatter everybody wants that and not everybody can have them. So there was a very very big diplomacy thing that attacked where you had to bounce one off against the other and then be very good and occasionally they would if they couldn't get what they wanted they would complain to Bill rule studio manager or any worker and then my boss would be summoned and when he wasn't there I'd be summoned. To explain. And you go into Bill Rove's office and you sit and there's the production manager. And Bill was very fair tough but fair. He'd say if I went in they'd say right Derek. Phil says you can't have them dressing rooms.
SPEAKER: F5
Did a little lie. And I had to have an answer and the answer would be I'm sorry but someone else has got them but can't we move them. No we can't move them.
SPEAKER: M6
Now what Bill would do which I found very encouraging if you made a decision and he thought it was fair he back you back you to the hilt.
SPEAKER: M3
He would turn round the production manager and say I'm sorry. You've heard what the reason is. Nothing more to be said. And the production manager would jump up and down. But I want no buts out. And he was very good that way. And he backed me on one occasion which was a horrendous occasion. Well I had to make decisions when my boss was away and I thought I was for the job.
SPEAKER: M11
Because it was a very big thing. I had to do very nasty things with guns a Nabarro of guys have never had big stars in it. David Nevin Affleck well. Girl could I really Pappas and Jesus gala and young American Jimmy Darin and Greg Peck. And there was one other. And there were six big stars. They all had their own cars their own chauffeur driven cars assigned to them and the cars would be actually the cars would be obtained by the production production manager who is normally nine times out on a rake off.
SPEAKER: M3
>From the oh a lot of backhanders did. So the studio used to allow them allow the production managers to get their own chauffeur driven cars for their stars.
SPEAKER: M15
Further production as a production car.
SPEAKER: M3
But if the star wanted to go somewhere else and we'd lay on the car that we had to permanent chauffeur driven cars there were drivers that were ours and they were based in the studio and we would use them where possible. But on this occasion they were shooting on a stage big storm sequence. For guns and all the stars were there so naturally all their got all their cars were there. We had. A series of accidents. On the sets and elsewhere but the studio nurse.
SPEAKER: M11
If she had a problem that she couldn't fix it she would phone ask for a car to take the injured party to the local hospital. And on this occasion this day. She phoned up and said Chris you have a car to take sides a and fallen off something wrong.
SPEAKER: M14
And it's one of those days where I could not get a car anywhere from any of our sources local and in London because I used to bring him down from London Carhartt vote in London as well. She could not I could not find a car anywhere. And she was getting frantic. So she said You've got to get me a car. So I said I'm sorry I can't find one Audrey. I said I'm trying I'm ringing round every I had everybody ringing up. Chris couldn't find. There wasn't just nothing. So eventually I got right. So I went down to a stage I got hold of the first show for I could find. And I said Who. Whose car are you. The first one happened to be David David like I said right. Come with me. Yes I'm sorry is I'm here for David David. I said You leave me now. I've got an emergency. Come on. So I took his car.
SPEAKER: M15
Took it around to Audrey. She got. She had no fewer than four accidents that afternoon. I had to find four cars. I took all four from guns stars cars. Naturally when it came to five o'clock wrapping up time it's no class still at hospital because I had them. The instructions were when I went to hospital to wait.
SPEAKER: M14
Until the bloke had been seen or what. Audrey would have phoned through obviously beforehand to warn hospital Glasgow hospital was used to this. There's always problems going on the studio. Naturally has no cars of the stars. I can tell you who the assistant director was at the time it was Roy Miller ship. Homeownership was assistant director. Roy stormed into our office. It's only me there and one of the secretaries he let fly at me with everything he had. And.
SPEAKER: M3
I just sat there and he said and I remember quietly to this day what he said. He said this is the biggest goddamn picture you've had in this bloody studio and you treat us like you wait and see. I'm not having this my stance on Oh well that's it then isn't it.
SPEAKER: F5
So he stormed out the next day I'm summoned next doors to build walls office. And as Roy sitting there and Bill looked at me and he said.
SPEAKER: M14
We got a problem haven't we. I said I don't think I've got a problem. They said. Roy told me what happened yesterday. He said I hope you've got a good excuse for that. I said I hope it's not an excuse. A reason. I told him exactly what had happened. Roy sitting there. And I sat back after I told him and Bill said to me I said Are you telling me absolutely positively you could not find a vehicle anywhere else. I said that's what I'm telling you is it none at all. No. I tried. Well they are right. You've heard it. Right and what you gonna do. I had the embarrassing situation on my staff Bill said to. Did any of your staffers complain that they hadn't got their car.
SPEAKER: F5
Wash. Well no it that's not the point but it is the point is that I'm satisfied that what Derek did was the best he could do under the circumstances. And I said Do you know as well as I do Roy the priority is we have a request from the student nurse. We had to take that as a priority. Yes I'm sorry. I did not get out. And Royce slunk out and Bill looked at me. I said. Yes I hope you're telling me the truth. I said I am. Yes I believe you. Okay Peter next time I did try to get hold of me first before I can make those decisions. And Roy I didn't was ever spoken to me since.
SPEAKER: M3
I was 1960 but those are sort of all sorts of things one had to do. You had to make decisions on the spot on the telephone. The biggest thing you had to do is when they called a quarter in the evening which they often did whether come 530 knocking off time suddenly the director is halfway through a shot.
SPEAKER: M6
And he wants to finish your shot.
SPEAKER: M15
So tell the first assistant director versus and try to get on the shot do it as I would like to finish a shot. Sir the is is okay we call the quarter giving giving him another quarter of an hour. Now. That meant I had to move like no one's business because I would get the telephone call in my office. At 530 or 525. They've called a quarter of a stage. Right. So then I had to make about five very fast phone calls. Very fast one to the powerhouse to make sure I didn't cut the power off at five thirty. And you hope that the line one engaged to you powers.
SPEAKER: M3
You find the main gate to hold the coach coaches there to take the guys down to Chevron station because the coaches go. And then you'd phone catering. To warn them in case someone wanted anything. So you had all this about five minutes because if you didn't they just chuck everything and go and there's a direct and always crew on this table the lights go out back.
SPEAKER: M2
It might be time to talk about the unions first of all was there a lot of graft at the studio.
SPEAKER: M8
In what respect. You mentioned kickbacks for the.
SPEAKER: M9
Abuses of the system materials disappearing.
SPEAKER: M16
There was no sort of stuff going on.
SPEAKER: M17
It really was I think it still is a third dishonest business and that resulted in very little respect for the workers that that is that while there was a lot of that happening.
SPEAKER: M3
You say I was paid. I started 13 pounds a week when I left there.
SPEAKER: F5
Five years later. I was getting a princely sum of eighteen pounds a week. Now. Prop men. And electricians riggers who went to one location. Were coming back from a location but I saw the payslips they were coming back with a hundred and twenty two pounds a week and it was me. Working in a sort of permanent nervous breakdown job.
SPEAKER: M3
Getting 80 pounds. No. Okay. The argument at the time was well yes you want a permanent job but then so was everybody else at the time. Nine times out of ten. Oh yes it was they flagged a bit in the wintertime because I was Sidney Gilbert when he was chairman he was chairman and I was their chairman of Shepherd studios and said in his report which I read of course for the book and talk to Sydney available available he was saying it could work out why there was this fall off in the wintertime when there's there was capability and space there. And then suddenly of turning people away in the summer because no space. But that was the waves as is the way it was. It was a cycle of production but these guys the all the overtime stuff that was going in and the expenses that were going in.
SPEAKER: M14
And then of course you had the production of the production manager some and they were what they were all on kickbacks as I said because they held the whip hand. They wanted cars. There was dozens of I was propositioned myself several times. I was propositioned by transport people. I was taken on because I'd only just got I got married in 62. So I was well into the studio then and I had I had a transport Governor call me up and they came into the studio and asked me to go for a walk around as they were more group that has been walking around he's saying hey you're getting married so sure we could do with a fridge usual sort of thing.
SPEAKER: M3
I'm sure we could do with this one. And I just wouldn't get involved in it wouldn't it. It was not and still is not in my nature to get a feel for that sort of thing. Well I did have a Christmas time. I wasn't expecting this at all the first Christmas and when I did have you used to have Christmas cards come through. With a fiver and things like that and plenty of drink come in and fags and things like that. But I felt that at the time.
SPEAKER: F5
At Christmas time that wasn't so bad. And that was all open. They came to the office. But my boss bless his cotton socks he's dead now.
SPEAKER: M3
My boss was really a very very large hypocrite which contributed to a great extent to me leaving in 65 because he began to I mean he was a hypocrite. He if if ever there was an increase in the charges for transport coming in on the bills he would make snide comments like. Well we all know where that 10 percent is going don't we. And then he would have stuff delivered to his home and he would be accusing everybody he'd be. In a weird character made it very difficult for me. He would be accusing everybody indirectly of taking back lenders and bribes. Nice feeling guilt I suppose. Yes but he was also an insomniac. He hardly ever slept. He was always coming in and he'd be up 3 o'clock in the morning making tea. That sort of thing. So he wasn't very helpful. But he also got very annoyed when he felt he found that I could actually run that job when he wasn't there. This is rule. You're talking about. No this is my boss Howard Taylor. Oh I will tell you the operating office manager Bill Wei r was fired and Bill was okay but Harold he was so suspicious of everybody that was just rather stupid because he was the nerve center of the studio. Everybody knew everybody in the studio knew what Howard was like and some people make comments about him to me privately. And I said well I know I'm working with the man for God's sake. You know don't tell me things like that. And I want to know. And at the end it got so bad when he was actually virtually accusing me to my face of taking backhanders and bribes which wasn't true at all. Eventually I went to Andy worker and said to him what was happening because Andy knew what Howard was like.
SPEAKER: M14
They all knew what Howard was like. And he said Well I'm sorry sir I'm very sorry to hear that. I said Look I'm sorry but I'm gonna have to leave. I really cannot take this these kind of innuendos anymore as it's gone on for about two years.
SPEAKER: F5
And Andy said well I should I hope you won't leave. I said Look I'm sorry. I just this is not fair.
SPEAKER: M5
So he said Well obviously it's just for you and Howard each and I have to support Harold. Do you realize that. Yes I do. So I eventually I I left which was a great show ready but that's the way it went.
SPEAKER: M18
Let's get some more tape on this.
SPEAKER: M2
Yes sir. I'm surprised that Sydney couldn't figure out why there was a fall off in the window.
SPEAKER: M17
I mean clearly there aren't that many pictures that don't have locations and you know you're fairly daft to him to shoot exteriors in this country during the winter.
SPEAKER: M3
I think what he was trying to do.
SPEAKER: M14
He was trying to get a TV series in there and he wanted to get the interiors. There's a lot of TV stuff we did there. We did some episodes of Danger Man and we did sentimental agent. We did it.
SPEAKER: M8
I mean they all had a lot of exterior location were I think what he was trying to do he was say look we've got this space here now surely someone can come up with a with a film like The ACTU TV on the kitchen that was made there when I was there for thirty thousand pounds.
SPEAKER: M3
And that was all on one of composites that was out of the Royal Court was all done by competent senators.
SPEAKER: M18
The man upstairs would take it back. I was like. That. We run a couple of months ago two months ago. It's a good film Bob. Do you remember Bob Dunbar. Yeah yeah.
SPEAKER: M17
Bob was 80 this year. We we had a ready for it. We had a screening about it holds up pictures very good.
SPEAKER: M11
I think it does because I've always felt that some day here in Basra. I mean he and I we have run ins from time to time through the column. He is he was a much better actor. I think he was that he is a director and I think Wayne's when he started getting directing and getting big the roles he used to play were very good. I mean the angry silence was another one just like Raines. If I wrote to going green in America about two years ago I kept meaning to write to him to thank him for introducing me to Shepherd and he sent me a very nice letter that cause he didn't remember it at all but he felt it is rather nice that I should actually write so and say thank you very much for all this.
SPEAKER: M3
That happened years and years and years ago and I said oh if he comes across I'll be only too happy to buy him a drink because while I appreciate people who put themselves up there are very few people these days in the business I find I will actually put themselves out for.

End of Side 3

Threadgall 2,3,4

Side 4

SPEAKER: M1
Let's talk about the unions. Yeah I'm the studio.
SPEAKER: M6
As you said the unions were had enormous clout in those days. Well let's start out with demarcation dispute. Were you having a lot of those.
SPEAKER: M7
A lot of those. A lot of those. You did it really. If you went on the set. At one occasion when I was doing my rounds in the morning I went on the set at a chair in the ways I move the chair the way I thought there's World War Three prop men with that cheerful because it's in my bloody way. That's why. I am. I do that. Oh sorry. There was a lot of that going on but there was also I mean for example there was a little picture came in and I still remember the title. I still remember who the production manager was. That was about 61 62 I suppose. There was a picture Kelly being called information received. I was a little three weeks. I remember we had quite a few of those in three weeks. The production managers Ronnie bear. I'm not sure whether Ronnie is still alive or not. Ron it was a real character as a Production Manager base very very smart very bold bullhead but he was very very. With it. The where he's now clothes which is totally out of keeping at the time but really was a good production manager. And there was something to do. I remember the details it was something to do with an extra. An assistant art director. I think it was in the art department. That Ronnie said he didn't need I think two or three because he didn't need them. There wasn't a work for a small picture. Mostly interiors but it was all done. And the union at the time said he's got to have the three. Or two whatever it was the minimum minimum and Ronnie said no. Show I've got a very tight budget you know. So the picture was stopped. By the unit for three days. And Ronnie then had to have his extra guy on and pay him the money. I don't remember that quite clearly because I thought at the time that was very very unfair. I knew Ronnie we all knew Ronnie and he was doing his best. And if Bob didn't have a picture and no picture at all.
SPEAKER: M8
That was on my way because I was a number of pictures that didn't get made because of the Excise doing required absolutely a record natural.
SPEAKER: M4
The Chiefs do it for that. He virtually blackmailed me into joining that. I wasn't a member of Lackey and I'd been there about six months I think when Gordon came in as chief steward came in and said to me are you were doing anything lunchtime. I said yes I will have something to eat. I said Do you mind if we have a chat. To. Know what is going to talk about. OK. So he said we'll go into the boardroom. Okay. And he said. You're not a member of Mackey are you. No I don't think I'm supposed to be a man. I said I'm on admin here. I said I'm not production regular. So you should be. I hope he has reasons. I was very anti-union because I'd been bashing my head against the ACTU brick wall for union ticket. God knows Emily yes I wasn't very enamoured. And I got very annoyed and I said I don't want to join the union. I said I'm quite happy the way I am. Thank you very much. So he said Well.
SPEAKER: M7
Said let's put it this way. I thought Oh here we go. He said it would be in your interest to join like. I said right. Gordon you are blackmailing me aren't you.
SPEAKER: M4
He said that's an ugly word I said but it's the right word isn't it. I said no. He said I'm not blackmailing you tweeted your decision. But he said I'm afraid that if you are not an active member then that's a lackey job you're in. I said Oh really. I said Well in that case yes I'll leave it with you. I said No you won't. I said we're going to thrash this out a bit more. So I kept him there happened in an hour. You didn't like it because you want to get to lunch. He thought is just going to be an open and shut case. But I didn't like that attitude at all. And it literally is. But it was either you join or you're out of a job. That was it in a nutshell. So eventually of course I joined with that very bad grace. But there were things going on there like for example when I left the studio I. Wanted to get on production. I'd been refused by union ticket. So many times I've lost count. Even with the endorsement of the chief steward. ACTU steward at the studio who had endorsed my applicati on and with. The top. Assistant direct versus directors of the day had endorsed it no problem because they all knew what I could do and I've been there five years and help them more. They all knew that it was a it was a fair application. So I decided that the only way I can do it is the old story wasn't it. Get it. You can't get a ticket a job got a job without a ticket. Your usual story sort of like get a job. I heard through the grapevine that Stanley Baker was coming back from a location in South Africa on a film called The Sands of the Kalahari which is as I understand it was one of two or three films he had agreed to make. In South Africa. So he could get permission to shoot Zulu. The. Zulu was. Later on and he was coming back from. That was I think Zulu had been made and I think the deal was that. He would then make two or three films in South Africa after Zulu for getting permission to shoot it was one way or the other I'm not quite sure which way but anyway he was coming bac k off location and he's coming into Shepparton to do interiors for south of the Kalahari which had magic horses and a York Stuart Whitman. And the director was Seinfeld. And the crew the production manager was a guy called Jeffrey Hellman who I got on very well with Jeff is still around. As a producer and I believe. And I thought I know what I'll do. I'll go out to the airport. Heathrow and I'll meet the crew of the first assistant with Jack Causey. And I'll meet the crew and ask them if they want me. To set up. The interiors and make sure everything's happy because I know the studio inside out knew every nook and cranny of the studio. And I met the met jack off the plane. And because he knew me. And I said Jack you want me to come in as a third assistant director and I'll set up the studio for you. They said it's only one of the books of the Union books. Obviously Jack had the country's back. And I lied. And I said. Now. It's all I want to get down there. So I went and went back to the studio having left it as a third assistant director on site of the Kalahari make sure everything's ready for it. They came and started shooting. I'd been shooting about a week. And Jeffrey asked me to go to his office. And he said I've got bad news. He said the unions found out. You said they're sending someone down. To take over a third assistant. And I said I'm afraid we have to let you go. I said right. So I went to Stanley Baker who was co producer so told him what had happened and I said look I'd like to stay on the film runner anything. And he said. Well you said we don't have a budget for a runner. He said. I said well I'll stay on for nothing. Just let me stay with it. With the production to get experience. And he said okay. But he said I'll do more than that. If I'll pay you. From my own pocket.
SPEAKER: F7
I'll pay fifteen pounds a week. How about that.
SPEAKER: M4
Yeah. Great. So I stayed with the picture. Stanley Baker paid me the money. How well I was on point I don't know. But the fact that he offered. And I stayed with the picture. And then when it finished. I applied for union ticket again. Had it rejected again. But then Stanley Baker. Sent me through an invitation. For my wife and myself. To attend the premiere of the film at the plaza in Piccadilly Circus which I thought was marvellous. I mean. I wouldn't expect that I was and nothing. And I will wager one standard Baker died. I loved writing a letter to screen international or just mentioning that. That he had. Been good enough. To do that. So it meant a lot. To me. As I say there's very few people around these days who would think he would actually put themselves out like that. Maybe a few but not many many need. But there was a lot of union problems there. Those with say the Kalahari when I was actually working as third assistant I was also take a sound crew down to Chesterton zoo. To do some sound recording. Of. Apes because the picture of dealing with apes. And. The Negro. Sound like a tape recorder had just. Come in. Portable. Which of course dispensed with. The levers rich. Fan. Etc.. So the macro stick it on your lap. And. Virtually just come I mean. Look as a union we still had minimum crewing for sound which was I think 3 4 the rightly. At the time at least 3 minimum 3.
SPEAKER: M3
Yeah it was always my bugbear was that for. Could have been for quite a bit because it was based on the old optical leave as Richard was for the van. Yeah. Yeah. But on camera the mics were the boom. And.
SPEAKER: M4
Was there a loader. There was. Well for what we were going to do we didn't have camera because all we going to do was record sound. So we had three. That's right. We had three weeks we didn't have camera we I got the studio that morning we had a car. And three guys to.
SPEAKER: M5
This one got a recorder and two others. So I said well. Where do I want to go. That's all you needed. One of the recorder one of the Mike like. That's all we needed. So the usual thing. Minimum crew governance.
SPEAKER: F2
I don't care about that. I said fact the matter is we only need to know there's a recorder microphone. I said to the third guy what are you going to do. VOICE I'm coming at all. But what are you going to do. He said Well I can't do anything. After I said precisely so that point you come it is the minimum crewed up. On it. Okay. So we all drive that Jesse engine. Started work. Recording these apes.
SPEAKER: M2
The third guy was sitting there so having his bag in the corner eating his day later Ariel you're telling me I said Excuse me. I said you can go get the tape.
SPEAKER: F2
Huh. What. I'm a sound I should be doing nothing. So I said you can't get the tape with thirsty as we're working. You're not gonna get a.. Hey it was defeat. And when he came back he complained bitterly about it. And I think as Jeff Hillman the production supervisor said to intermission what you do that for. So I call.
SPEAKER: F3
It has finally had a riot on our hands. That's what you're doing nothing. He said that's not the point. At that point he said these minimum crew.
SPEAKER: M17
I said Well plus I can't help it.
SPEAKER: M6
There's still the great windows. Yeah it's it's an inferiority complex essentially.
SPEAKER: M2
I have to you. Oh some of the blokes find it when they did Sunday working there. When did you know we came in on a Sunday to build a set. What have you. We had this little rigmarole of. There was what the studio admin called a concession where guys were coming in from different parts of London. Or elsewhere because it was Sunday. Public transport of course in those days differed considerably with their timetables so that where the guy would get into the studio seven thirty in the morning reasonably easily using trains and buses because a lot of not many of their cars on those days very real but trains and buses they could get in because the public transport system was designed for getting workers in early it is not like never designed but on a Sunday. Public transport system said nobody should be working on a Sunday so the timetables were cut back. So some guys had difficulty getting in for they were allowed to come in at eight o'clock eight o'clock on a Sunday. Had difficulty gettin g in for eight o'clock. Now they were put in a concession form which would stipulate where they lived what their usual transportation system was and their bus numbers and their train times etc. and then they'd sign and say I can't get in for eight o'clock or pass up after I can't get it up all night. Therefore I claim a concession. In other words they wanted another hour in bed. Fair enough but they were being paid. So the studio Bill Royal said to me I want you to go through these. I said and you've got the timetables you've got the track you've got the bus numbers and routes that you try and get them in.
SPEAKER: M8
I reckon quite expert had it actually quite expert. I was finding routes where the routes didn't exist.
SPEAKER: M17
And eventually the steward a shop steward came in. You can't ask my guys to change buses three times get here for our pass as I can. I said My job's to get them in from our state. I can't know.
SPEAKER: M2
They're gonna change buses three times. I'm not having this. So he complained. So eventually bill came out with a compromise to. Get him to change twice. He said if you call it gonna be in my judging. Twice he said. Oh I've got to chase. We'll. Give em a concession. So there was a compromise. So I managed to get most of them in there like they were furious. Because they still wouldn't pay them. They were furious. And someone wouldn't talk to me for ages because every time I walked right up to them they mutter behind my back about that he hit the roof.
SPEAKER: M6
Well it's very different for the No. Yes. Yeah.
SPEAKER: M2
But it was. You also had to look after the stars. I mean none of wisdom came in on one occasion he was making it. No. And. He used to do his own cooking in his own dressing room for some weird notion.
SPEAKER: M9
And he came in and Perry said the commissary wasn't that bad. Well no it wasn't.
SPEAKER: M10
I mean normally is wonderful idea about cooking in his own dressing room and he f and g block and probably date back to his vaudeville. Yeah. Probably touring. Oh yeah. He came in and cause a riot and occasionally banged on my filing cabinet and demanded to know who pitched his primus stove. So.
SPEAKER: M11
You had you had fun you had fun.
SPEAKER: M12
Who was some of the production people you had dealings with when you were on the payroll there.
SPEAKER: M6
You mentioned Carl Foreman. Did you have anything to do with him. Oh yeah. Well a lot. I know memories of him. Yes. Called the forgotten man.
SPEAKER: M2
I don't think it is very sad that he is he's forgotten because don't you think you know compared to what he had in the 60s how he.
SPEAKER: M13
I interviewed him for a magazine. I interviewed him for a magazine film magazine in 70 to 73. I think it was I went to his office in German street that I got into if I was. That was the first writing I was doing for magazines there was a magical filmmaking. And he was working with the publishers at the time Haymarket Publishing. And the editor of film making knew my background and he was trying to get the image of the magazine up. So he said how would you like do some heavyweight interviews. Okay so Carl Forman I was using all my connections are Carl Foreman. That was the one I went to first to do. I got through diversion. He remembered me from the guns and also did the victors. There is other picture. So he agreed to interview me but at the time this was seventh in the early 70s when the violence and sex was coming into films like no one's business with Straw Dogs. With the devil's with Soldier Blue. And there's all sorts of things going on which I personally.
SPEAKER: M14
Didn't like.
SPEAKER: F2
And Carl Foreman didn't like. So. It was a logical question I thought. Was what were his views.
SPEAKER: M2
How did he feel about the element that was creeping into film making of the excesses. And he blew a gasket. Blow a gasket. He said if you're going to ask those sort of questions you said the interview will finish now. Oh crikey isn't my first interview my first major interview although I'm not a flying start here.
SPEAKER: M13
Great. But then he calmed down and he kind of had a good interview with him and we had pictures taken as well. But he really was upset about the violence because he was making films the guns and everyone really didn't have. It didn't have any excessive violence in it. It bangs and guns and bodies. But it was a usual. But when you had straw dogs and you had Soldier Blue. Devils where you have excessive violence. LUDDEN Go all over the place which is only just coming in then at that level. And the audiences I saw Straw Dogs in the plaza with a girlfriend of mine at the time. And when the audience reaction was quite something in those days because when in Straw Dogs I think Susan George we all knew what was going to happen to her. She was going to be raped if she opened the front door to I could only read if she opened the door.
SPEAKER: M17
And when all is banging on the door and she was not going to die and she decided to open the door there was a woman behind me screamed out in applause screamed out You bloody silly cow.
SPEAKER: F2
And I thought getting out of here. But for them was very very uptight about that.
SPEAKER: M6
That's interesting because I suppose it's a matter of of his background and training in the so-called golden days the golden period of Hollywood. But this was a man who had been subject to so much intolerance yes that it's unseemly that he returns it to other people because excessive is a relative term. I mean what then astounded people and cause the gutter press to go into such hysteria is now run of the mill Absolutely. I think it was to me the film industry. The feature film industry in this country of films generally finished.
SPEAKER: M2
Being films as we knew them in the early 70s. I mean the first time I heard the f word which was a throwaway line which was in. The Gene Hackman voice which I had a picture of the detectives thing French French Connections convention. I saw that at a preview run at foxes studio foxes cinema. And. That was the first time I'd heard it and it was a throwaway line is hangman just threw it away. It was always chasing someone if I remember I was chasing someone. And he lost him and it was just off. And I was in. But now it just so just so common and to me that is not what it's all about.
SPEAKER: M1
Well I find it distasteful. I was watching Goodfellas the other night which is a marvellous picture superbly made but it does get a little wearisome to Joe Pesci saying Fuck fuck fuck popcorn. But on the other hand I'm totally a libertarian it's not for anyone to tell me what I may listen to or read or what giant clearly I don't do that of other people. Know it's like television and all these characters the knee jerk characters in pop up and say this is going to be banned.
SPEAKER: M6
Well you know they've got a simple choice which is the off button.
SPEAKER: M2
I think the problem there and I with my kids I mean my kids growing up with all this mess around us yes there is an off on on off button. My argument is probably not a logical one because my argument. Is that I really don't care a damn what goes on the screen. If it's in a cinema because you have to pay you have to you have to physically get up and go out and see it. You got to pay money to go see it. What I objected to. Is this kind of stuff coming on the TV screen in my own home. So I find that. Yes you can turn it off and turn it on.
SPEAKER: M13
But when you've got your kids credit physically if you're living by yourself or you've just got you and your wife or husband you're adult enough to know what you will turn on what you want to turn off but so many people these days don't use the on off button parents that they keep the television running as a background noise. We know that. The kids are might chip in on something and catch something. I just don't think that I think there should be limits on what is beamed into one's home. If it is a video. You have the choice again of actually getting it. You've got to physically go out and buy or rent. You got to physically make that decision. I want to go out and get that video now if you're watching television a lot of people I've found including myself have started to watch a programme on television. Did you want to watch it. How did you find it degenerates into all sorts of problems in the language and then violence how do you think. Hang on a minute. I really don't want to see t his but you're actually started to watch the programme on the assumption you're going to be going to be entertained but are you going to be interested. And while there's got to be a certain amount of reality about plays and about series I think what is going on now is is excessive and is geared to getting ratings. And that's where the BBC are falling down and they're actually entering the ratings war and they don't need to. They shouldn't have to but I just I don't like saying that the nine o'clock watershed is a joke. Because how many homes got video recorders. Some other 60 percent have got video or access to a video recorder. And kids I know I've stopped my kids don't and my kids. Would. My my my boy 11 years old would say to me Oh can I record the film tonight. The late film tonight. Say what they film. They say what's on it. Ten thirty it's Schwarzenegger. When I do whatever it is I don't know. Sorry.
SPEAKER: M6
Well then your exercising parental discretion. Yeah. But there's so many adult and they're well they're being fed all this but I really don't understand why Martin Scorsese is filmmaking should be conditioned by irresponsible parents. But anyway we were wondering because I don't think we're going to agree on that one.
SPEAKER: M2
Well probably not. I mean that's what it's all about isn't it. I mean you form your own opinion and then. Yeah but I as you. I do agree with you when you say I don't think that anyone should judge rammed their opinions down your throat you know watch at the right level especially in this country which is the most repressive most highly censored control.
SPEAKER: M6
I totally agree with that in all and totally agree with that so-called doesn't work.
SPEAKER: M2
People have different opinions and interpretations. There's one thing I would say about the opportunities that I had at the studio I saw at the time I saw probably the top stars directors producers of the time. Because they were all there most often because.
SPEAKER: M13
They had the the American invasion. Then in the 60s producer Hal Wallace was there and Foreman of course and Joe knows he was making his films there. And the international stars were there. I mean Stanley Dunham was there.
SPEAKER: M2
And you had people like Mitchum and peck and Crosby and hope. It was endless really. Yes all the top 100. So one of the most.
SPEAKER: M6
It was only with England it was days it really was. And I consider myself fortunate very fortunate to be there when I was because having fought. For years to get into a studio it was my I suppose I was lucky to be to actually get into the studio at the time I did because that five years was the first so the first three.
SPEAKER: M2
Were the best I've ever had in my life. And it was unfortunate that my boss. His attitude led to the last two years being rather Purgatory which was between him and I. And the secretaries didn't affect my work. I still did the work and I still I found that towards the end. The trouble was beginning to burst. And we were getting more and more three weeks in when we had Jack Parsons in there from Fox making his second features. Jack was Jack Parsons is now dead he hanged himself. There's quite a few of those happening as well of the time pressure was quite intense. Jack was on the small pictures. And Jack would come in at the end of the picture. And he he used to get it was it has been Hollywood stars. And he was making his second. He was he was the 20th Century Fox second feature unit and they had a Bob Lippert was the American in charge and Jack was looking after the British as they made these pictures of Shepperton three weeks four weeks five. If you were lucky but generally three w eeks and he'd get people like Dan Duryea Dan a.. Came in Dan Duryea who I always had a lot of time for as an actor when he's with Universal International. He was always a heavy but he's also in little foxes that Willy Wyler pictured and do. He was a good actor good old actor he was but he was over the hill when he came in there. He's on the drink. I was over the hill and dangerous. Died shortly after his film for Jack. Jack used to come in to my office and he'd go through it and always all his invoices there for the transport and he'd go through the whole lot with me for about an hour and a half. And if he saved fifty P. He'd be happy. And at the end he'd go out and I said I'll see you next time Jack. Yeah thanks. And he came out and someone who's still around probably doesn't want to be reminded of it. Donovan winter. Donovan was in there. With a three week I think it was. A picture called the trunk that's all he ever made was oversized and Donovan came in with his picture on the t runk and he had an American star on it. Phil Phil Carey Phil Carey was because Phil came as a big actor in his day as well. Calamity Jane and Doris Day and others and. Donovan had a had a unique car fulfil Kerry. And he came in the bills that came in for this car were astronomical and Donovan came storming into the office on one occasion. And that ls all this.
SPEAKER: F2
All these bills were car So was Phil Kerry's car. Was it do you you did it you asked for it you got it. He said it's spent a fortune Oh Phil Kerry and then he had a car no one a told Phil Kerry or the driver that he was only to bring Phil down to the oval just to the back again.
SPEAKER: M10
Phil Kerry thought it his usual Hollywood fashion he had got himself in Canberra and he went all over the place. So the mileage the mileage went up like a yo yo up and then I could go on for I dunno and then you had a third of the budget the film on his car it was an interesting period because of the people that were run I was going back and forth between here in the States and I had a flight now but court which is near Munich just by the Albert Hall and on Sundays I would wander over into the park just by the barracks. And everyone was playing softball you know it was like going into Chasen's or Romanoff stars and directors Frank Shaffner Marty red you will Brennan they were all out there.
SPEAKER: M15
Then you had the blacklist people yeah they they were here because the production was here because in those days the United States tax law if you were abroad for more than 18 months and didn't go back you didn't pay us taxes so that you know it was a marvellous thing and they didn't pay tax here. Because they weren't resident and domiciled so they they made a lot of money then you had the blacklist people then you had the deadbeats like it's right like Phil Gerry Hadden everybody couldn't work anyway there were lots. The one person the one experience I had the other two experiences I had there which will stick in my mind as being the very best of film making feature film making one was well because we had the scoring stage there which is now l stage the scoring stage where obviously we used to do all the music recording.
SPEAKER: M14
And there Dimitri. Dimitri Tonkin was in there. Recording a music for risin No not Lawrence of Arabia. Dimitri John Key was in there for the rise and fall of the Roman Empire and the Lawrence of Arabia. The recording music I think is the Italian guy who was conducting Gogol resort Alani I believe he was conducting. But when you have a 110 piece. Orchestra there.
SPEAKER: F2
And you have that going full belt I was in there on stage watching this half of this is incredible just especially Lawrence music absolutely incredible. I thought we could charge admission for people to come and just watch this and see how marvellous.
SPEAKER: M6
Absolutely gorgeous. And the other occasion was with Judy Garland. When she made a picture called I could go on singing it's our last pick for news on run and really name Ronnie name and Bogart and. Jody was of course at the end of the end of the road. We had terrible trouble with her. Terrible chuckling. And I think it was I heard a production manager was now he used to call the other guys to do is to chair the production the afternoon production meetings where my boss wasn't there but when he was nice to be with him. Two o'clock every afternoon or two thirty sorry every afternoon. All the production managers of all the pictures there were come to this meeting. With.
SPEAKER: M17
All the studio heads of department would be there turns out the chief executive are the chief electrician of property prop master and you'd have and they'd have a call sheet and they would tell us what they wanted for the next day based on what they were going to be shooting whether they wanted special without fire or you'd have the security guy the fire service guy there and they wanted five to say is that all right with the fire and you're gonna have the necessary. Yep. And that used to be a bunfight to be a bunfight because some of my SO especially heads of department there were three their construction boss electrician chief electrician.
SPEAKER: F4
And the property got these three were like three stooges. They said no to everything. Virtually noted everything you asked them to buy. And the poor all production managers who were there probably of eight nine ten of them.
SPEAKER: M16
Around that table. So you'd pay about 20 Peter on a table. And when my boss wasn't there I would share it. But Bill role was to come and sit behind me. To give me moral support and if anyone starts getting really out of hand Bill would step in and say Shut up. Let the latter phenomenon.
SPEAKER: M5
And the production manager who was Dennis Holt for the journey to this picture he would sit there and we'd come round to him and I would say to him right that is what we want for tomorrow. He said oh should I know.
SPEAKER: F2
What you mean you should do as well as it turns out doesn't it. If she turns up we will want that and that he should as she hasn't turned up for the last two days. My schedule is what the show is. I've no idea. So. All right. Okay onto the next one that give us a shout. Dennis went in and she was as she was terrible but what people don't know. About it I haven't read anywhere. I saw this for myself. I had a call from. The woman who looked after the old house where Judy had a dressing room. One afternoon and she said I like to come come come over. I wanted to see something. Okay.
SPEAKER: M16
I went across. She's dead now unfortunately. She could tell some stories. The housekeeper. Unfortunately I never got around to talking to her.
SPEAKER: M5
But there it is and she took me into Judy's dressing room and Jenny wasn't there and she said look at those. And there were bottles of wine. Sixteen. Sixteen I counted them sixteen bottles of wine up there. As well. So. She said they'd all be empty by tonight I said what. So who said Judy will go through those.
SPEAKER: F2
Today. And there'll be empty by tonight. I said Oh but she said she'll go through those every day. She's here. I said. Fall. Well she said Can I throw the empties out every night. I just thought you should say that. 16 bottles of wine every day. When she was shooting on picture Ronnie Neave of course knew he had a few problems there.
SPEAKER: M17
And on one occasion they called they called the quarter. And so when they called the quarter when I'd done my phone calls I used to go on the stage and just watch. To see what was going on. And I went on to the stage where they were shooting us and this was quite an incredible Ronnie Lee. Well obviously back it up we better because I saw it probably forgotten about it. He had the big transatlantic Crane the biggest crane in the studio at the time massive crane used for these huge tracking shots that he did from one interstate. And they had a mock up of the London Palladium stage complete with curtains. The idea was that Judy was on the front of stage and sing it to the audience singing the title No I could go on singing. And what Ronnie had done. He worked that shot out so that for the duration of the song. The transatlantic Crane would start way back. And he'd bring it he's gonna bring it in. For the duration song and bring it in front of him. If I if you see the film you see the sh ot brought it right round two side profile and finish that shot as she finished the song. So the timing was absolutely it had to be perfect. And when I got older the reason they called the quarter is because they just couldn't get it. Something's going on when I go on that. There are things take five or take six. And Ronnie was trying to get you want to get this shy other way. Couldn't come back to it. So later. And then the crane would come in too quickly again. And Ronnie would sit and sitting on the train for Christ's sake and get this right.
SPEAKER: F4
Second the next time she stopped herself she wasn't happy. Fair enough. Then they came into it. And finally they've got it on tape 10. I remember writing. She was not a playback. She was just belting out this song herself. She was doubting it.
SPEAKER: M17
And you could hear a pin drop as she belt is on this crane came in for the umpteenth time and everyone was holding their breath and it came round and she's still belting this song out and it came round it finished right there just as she finished singing the song. And Ronnie name sitting on the train he's looking at her. And she just held herself there. I was about 12 feet away from it and you can see her face. She just lowered her eyes and she just stood there waiting for Ronnie to say cut it wouldn't he just held that everyone is just breathless and she used her hands started. Clenching. And then. He said. Cut. Pretty.
SPEAKER: F2
And she just collapsed. Tears pouring down her face. She collapsed and ran off. And every one on that set applauded. It was quite incredible. I mean I was. I was standing there. I was just mesmerized. Because to see how you thought this girl what a performance that was. Absolutely crazy. It was. It was electrifying. And that was on a stage set then on my watch. On that note.
SPEAKER: M6
Well they were great professionals. Absolutely and train. Yeah. That time. By the by major Hollywood studio.
SPEAKER: F2
Well that's why I've always complain about people these kids who write books about their famous parents. My view is who the hell. Unless it's really bad. But who the hell really cares what these people do in their private lives. In my book it's what's on the screen.
SPEAKER: M3
It was ripped. Yeah can say I think it was very sad. It's really sad. They were exploited and they were discarded when absolutely they were no longer wanted but that was quite an experience.
SPEAKER: M5
I must admit to see her it was electric.
SPEAKER: M6
Absolutely electric were coming to the end of this tape. I got two to three more minutes. But probably that's enough for today. Yeah. Yeah. We haven't talked to them. Frank Warner and Sidney Gilliam all the voting is being part of shall we say that for next time you say you have a lot to say.
SPEAKER: F5
Oh no. Only that. Yes they were there and of course it's in trillions. And trillions films are being made there at the time.
SPEAKER: M18
And of course Sydney was doing only to comply with it with sellers. And I felt the same were quite a laugh at it because all these girls and jumpsuits running around the studio and gently causing mayhem off the set as well as on the set. So it's quite funny.
SPEAKER: M9
We all like this and treat this film like a munchkins on the Wizard of Oz right.
SPEAKER: M18
They're all running around and bolting brothers of course with their films. Heavens above.
SPEAKER: M6
I was thinking of them as individuals rather than what they were the films they made.
SPEAKER: M18
I found I felt Sydney was a little bit over. I found it rather overpowering at the time because he was very.
SPEAKER: F1
Grumpy.
SPEAKER: M17
I can understand I now understand why because he was chairman as well and he had a lot on his plate but he used be overpowering Arthur Leslie good it was fine. Leslie still is a nice man very nice man. The. Bolting. I've personally found no problems with him at all. There are a few stories. Well we'll get those down.
SPEAKER: M11
Funny stories. Yeah. Where shall we bury her. Yeah. Okay.
SPEAKER: M6
We'll make a note then we'll resume with Shepherd and personalities and I'm not. What year are we talking adopting now that we know I left I left us to have a. Sixty five. So um. All right. Well I mean what what year shall we pick up with. Um what if we in essence 65 races but also Shepperton.
SPEAKER: M17
Yeah we we we we go on to Sean and Roy sitting in frank I by one or two others there as well.
SPEAKER: M11
Do you remember we'll break. 

End of Side 4

Biographical

Derek Threadgall was born in 1938 the eldest of three children in Harwich, Essex.

Fate decreed that the largest and grandest cinema of the three cinemas in that area, the Regal, should be a two minute walk from his two-up, two-down terraced home. The 940 seats Regal cinema (now demolished) also introduced him to the cinema going   experience. In 1947, the family moved farther along the coast to a seaside resort which also had three cinemas each of which would play a major part in his formative years. His interest in films was boosted by his weekly visits to the popular Saturday Morning Pictures in his local Odeon (also a two minute walk from his new home in the town centre. During his teenage years he visited his local cinemas six and even seven times a week. This was possible because cinemas’ weekly programming was changed in mid- week in order to run a fresh presentation for the remainder of the week.  Soon these early film life experiences began to form his ambition to work in the film industry.

He was introduced to practical amateur film making in the mid-1950s by a local school teacher, Lew Broom, who had broken new educational ground by successfully introducing ‘film’ as an educational tool.  Mr Broom also ran the local youth club film group which Derek joined. Mr Broom helped him gain his first employment in the film industry with the British Film Institute Film Appreciation Department in London. His appointment followed a meeting arranged by Mr Broom with Dr Roger Manvell, Director of the British Film Academy in London.

He later moved to the BFI’s National Film Theatre (NFT) in London’s south bank arts complex as a trainee projectionist (the NFT was the original Telekinema from the 1951 Festival of Britain. It was  transferred to BFI management after the Festival had closed).

Derek worked with Air Ministry in London during his National Service with The Royal Air Force. He travelled throughout England and abroad with the RAF promotions and recruitment team and a mobile 16mm cinema. The team attended events such as The Royal Tournament and Ideal Homes exhibitions to promote The Royal Air Force. his team was also responsible for maintaining the RAF film library located in RAF Hendon. In return, the RAF paid for him to take a London University course on the History and Art of Film sponsored by the British Film Institute. After completing his National Service, he joined Rank Film Distributors in London from where he plotted his final push to work in a British film studio.

In 1960, he succeeded in joining the management team at Shepperton Studios working in the Operating Office (the nerve centre of the studio). In 1965, he left the studio to freelance as a writer and documentary producer for which he formed his own film company.

In 1968, he joined the London advertising agency, Ogilvy Benson and Mather, to manage   their television commercials library. He later joined Haymarket Publishing as annuals production editor and writer for their ‘Film Making’ magazine. He continued writing for several media and consumer magazines including ‘Atlantic’ for the American Chamber of Commerce in London.

In 1972 Shepperton Studios was under threat of closure. He ran the 16 months public campaign to prevent the studio from being demolished for a housing development. Following the campaign’s

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success in 1973 he formed his own public relations business specialising in financial PR and fund raising for registered charities. His first book, ‘Shepperton Studios – An Independent View’ (a corporate history of the studio) was published in 1994 by the British Film Institute. It was  followed in 2019 by a companion book ‘Shepperton Studios – A Personal View’.                                                                                   

Over the past ten years he has enjoyed sometime lecturing on cruise ships highlighting ‘The Golden Age of Hollywood’ (1920s to 1960s).  On dry land he has presented over 100 talks covering cinema going in the 1940s 50s and 60s.

In 1996 to commemorate 100 years of British film making  he ran the team which ‘borrowed’ the Odeon, Leicester Square, in London, for ‘The Super Saturday Show’ a recreation of a 1950s Saturday Morning Pictures show. It aided the Children’s Film and Television Foundation, the Prince’s Trust and the Variety Club of Great Britain.

Now, long retired as a film and cinema historian and an industry veteran, he is a volunteer for The British Entertainment History Project based in London for which he interviews entertainers and employees from Film, Television, Radio and Theatre  His interviewees have worked in front of or behind the camera or microphone, but importantly they have a story to tell.

Derek is married to Liz and has two children, Clare and Roy, and three daughters from a previous marriage.

 

Derek Threadgall     

March 2019