Harry Manley (HM)
Laboratories (Colour Film Services)
Interviewers: John Legard (JL) & Dave Robson (DR)
00:00:00 – 00:18:08 Background and early life in Birkenhead; started at Birkenhead School in 1945 and left at sixteen; wanted a career as a customs officer; he became a clerical officer in the civil service at the Air Ministry, moving to London in 1951; 1952 – National Service in the RAF as a clerk; at 21 he went back to the Air Ministry for eight months before looking for a new career; as a youngster he would not be allowed to go to Rialto Cinema in New Ferry; as a teen he visited the Ritz cinema in Birkenhead; he had no thoughts of a career in cinema; still great queues outside the cinema in the early-1950s; HM remembers watching the Queen’s coronation at a neighbour’s house; his family got their first TV in 1954; HM remembers watching the first night of colour TV; Stoll Theatre, The Strand; HM enjoyed theatre, opera and ballet.
00:18:08 – 00:25:35 HM began researching a new profession without a degree – he enrolled for a three year chartered secretary course; 1956-59 HM became a clerk at a finance and confirming house for three years; moved into a flat in Hampstead; spent most of his weekends sightseeing; met his wife at 24 on a holiday in France; after qualifying as a chartered secretary he looked for a better job; had an interview at Burrow’s accounting as a salesman.
00:25:35 – 00:33:59 Applied to be company secretary for Colour Film Services; the building at Portman Close was very run-down; interview with Roland Chase; CFS started in 1948 at Shelton Street; 30-40 employees in 1959 when HM joined; Dubray and Bell and Howell printers at this point; all process went to Kodak as it was reversal at this time; a van went up to Kodak every night and took a week for the films to return; he retired 30 years later as group MD; they had just bought ‘a pair of sheds at Perivale’ behind the Hoover factory for developing B&W; something was on the horizon which Kodak were not going to develop themselves; the next ten year were critical for CFS – they developed from re-invested profits, every penny went back into the company; the factory at Perivale got busier until the late-60s when they built a proper brick building where the printing was moved into, developing and positive print film moved in also; they worked in entirely in 16mm; CFS made its name in the masked printing days – early industrial films; although negative came in by the mid-60s, reversal for prints carried on until the late-70s early 80s.
00:33:59 – 00:34:32
JL: Of course, the point of the masked print, am I right in saying ‘cos Kodachrome was sort of rather contrasty wasn’t it?
HM : That’s right.
JL: And this is a method of reducing the contrast.
HM: It reduced the contrast.
JL: I don’t know whether you … I can’t remember…
JL & HM: [unintelligible]
HM: And I think it cost an extra penny a foot, old penny a foot to have a masked print done.
JL: And so you have this lovely quality this lovely sort of pastel quality very often.
DR: Is that mosk?
HM: ‘Mask, M A S K E D’
JL: The mask being…
HM: And you had what was called standard printing and a mask, and the mask was leader.
00:34:32 – 00:48:47 CFS continued to expand; Roland Chase had an engineering bent; Calder equipment was put in to their own specifications; CFS were unique until Universal came a long much later; they handled a lot of 16mm neg made from a 35mm original; Denham went into 16mm but Technicolor didn’t for many years; CFS processed all of Technicolor’s 16mm material until the early-80s; when Technicolor wanted to enter the 16mm market, they thought they could buy CFS when Bill Ingram was managing director of Technicolor – it didn’t lead to anything; in the 1960s CFS installed a sound recording facility in the basement of a new property adjacent to theirs which proved to be very successful – mainly industrial films with Richard Baker, Michael Aspall and Judith Chalmers providing voiceovers; HM discusses buying the new building in 1962 which included the CFS preview theatre; Beating the Romans by John Lang was one of the first films shown in the theatre; around this time CFS moved into video – tape to film transfer; TVR had been doing black and white tape to film but were unwilling to go into colour.
00:00:00 – 00:11:10 Tape to film transfers; any TV show companies wanted to sell abroad had to either go on a 625 line tape or on film; CFS did hundreds of episodes of Coronation Street for Canada; 470 episodes of Rainbow went all over the world; Saturday afternoon wrestling; drama was still shot on film so it was only videotaped programmes; as standards conversion for TV came in the business dropped off; industrial films shot in tape were also transferred; they put in a duplicating bank with a telecine machine; they remained in the specialist area rather than investing millions; film processing was still a big part of the business; in 1965 HM became finance director and later managing director; Roland Chase looked after the technical side and HM took care of the money; Roland Chase looked to developed a printer which prints A & B rolls and soundtrack in one pass – they could never achieve this but these developments were important to the company; Bernard Happe was a consultant for CFS; on the video side Bill Wood consulted with CFS; they had 80 people at the laboratory on a three-shift system 24 hours a day; tape to film had a staff of 10; CFS Equipment Ltd had a staff of 3; a lot of Perivale staff came from Technicolor.
00:11:10 – 00:25:12 HM relationship with ACT – John Jeffrey and Roland Chase were mostly involved; eventually CFS came to an agreement with ACT; HM became involved as managing director at CFS; staff relationships were always good except during pay review; HM discusses the merger with Humphries; John Jeffrey was put in as managing director of Humphries and half the staff were removed; Humphries were now in a stronger financial position and it wasn’t in their interest to merge with CFS; John Jeffrey remained with Humphries until Rank took it over; HM took over negotiation with the union during time when laboratory work was dropping as video came in; a strike happened in the early-80s but Technicolor remained open – from then on the individual labs did their own negotiations; only 35 staff working at Perivale at time of interview; HM took retirement in 1989 then went to BAFTA as finance director.
00:25:12 – 00:34:26 Universal labs came in as a rival to CFS; 16mm wasn’t considered ‘professional’; they had very few personal customers but a lot of film units set up for companies who believed they could produce their own industrial films; British Transport Films started on 16mm Kodak reversal in 1953/4 for their travelogue films which were then blown up to Technicolor; the BBC never used CFS for printing but did for sound recording; HTV, RTE were the biggest customers in television; a lot of work from overbroad – Sweden and Norway; television took over from industrial films; Alan Barratt and Jack Potter started Universal Lab after leaving CFS which was very successful and later sold to Carlton – many staff at Universal came from CFS; Major Steadman’s Dragon Productions made medical films and had a large share of the market for a time; Buck Film Laboratories set up by David Buck from Humphries – still going at time of interview.
00:34:26 – 00:48:20 Roland Chase was heavily in involved with BKSTS and setting up the first big exhibition ‘Film ‘69’ which would then take place every two years; HM started to meet more people from the industry; HM became treasurer of the BKSTS and built up the society; the following exhibitions were enormously successful; HM believes that the success of ‘Film ’71 and ‘73’ was due to politics as the Iron Curtain countries desperately needed equipment – there they could meet the Americans to agree on sales; ‘Film ‘77’ was important as the Chinese bought the three-strip system from Technicolor, London because they couldn’t buy it from the US; HM then became president of BKSTS; Dennis Kimberly and John Corbet became his vice presidents; HM discusses Unitech, BAFTA, BKSTS, BISFA; when he was president of BKSTS he applied to be a member of BAFTA – two years later he was asked to be on the board of BAFTA.
00:00:00 – 00:19:43 HM becomes treasurer of BISFA and later chairman; HM initiated discussions for BISFA and IVCA to merge; HM recently visited CFS for the first time since 1989; BAFTA in Wales; his time as CFS has put him in good stead for his current duties; HM discusses his role on the board of the BBFC – he has no role in the classification of films; HM is a director of the Children’s Film Unit – a workshop for children led by Colin Finbow in Putney; once a year the CFU are commissioned by Channel 4 to make a 75minute film; the 16-plus CFU make commissioned films from elsewhere
00:19:43 – 00:32:25 HM started at BAFTA in 1979/1980; in 1989 he was offered a 3 year contract as finance director at BAFTA before retirement; HM came to BAFTA at a time when they were close to receivership; BAFTA grew very quickly, overstretching itself financially; membership of BAFTA remained steady; BAFTA borrowed £2 million to redevelop the first floor of their building in Piccadilly just before the recession started leading to their financial problems.
00:32:25 – 00:48:11 HM has no regrets about his career; the David Martin affair at CFS – policeman shot at the CFS building and subsequent manhunt and shooting of Stephen Waldorf.