Ray Elton

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Interview Date(s): 
16 Nov 1988
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Interview extract, on his start:-

I had an uncle in Nottingham who owned quite a few small fleapits so I asked him if there was any prospect of getting into the film business and he said he knew one or two people. I wrote to various studios and the manager’s secretary used to make appointments for me to come and see them but inevitably whenever I got there the manager was busy or out and I had to come back another time, which was difficult because I lived in Cardiff. My family were just about broke but my father’s bank manager was very nice and saw that I would have to come to London so he allowed an overdraft of £50 to see me through a few weeks looking for work. 

    Eventually, I was given an appointment to see Julius Hagen at Twickenham Film Studios, which I found with some difficulty, not being a Londoner. And to my amazement I was asked immediately to go up and see Mr. Hagen. So I knocked at his door and walked into the traditional film mogul’s office - he was sitting about half a mile down the carpet smoking an enormous cigar  - and he eventually looked up and said, “Who are you?” and I said, “I am Ray Elton, I have an appointment with you, sir.” Whereupon he said, “You’re not the Elton I’m expecting to see, but now you’re here what do you want?” I said, “I want terribly to work in your lovely studio” or words to that effect. It was quite obvious I didn’t know anything - I was only a boy - so he said, “All right, start Monday, thirty shillings a week. Goodbye.”

    That was it. I was in. They started me in the negative cutting room carrying tins. I was there for about a week and the women got thoroughly fed up with me because when I labelled tins, nobody could read what I’d written, so they said they thought they could do very well without me and I was very pleased - I found it very boring and I wanted to be “on the floor”. In those days, it wasn’t difficult. They pitched me into the floor staff. I did the clapper board now and again and I unwound the cables. I became a sort of dogsbody to any department that needed a hand, to carry a camera or push it around or move the boom or anything else.