Ronald Craigen

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Interview Date(s): 
30 Aug 1988
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Interview notes

BEHP 0049S Ron Craigen


SIDE 1. Born 1914 Leeds, father Army Officer in RAOC after 1st World War went with father and family to Germany then return to UK went to Farnham Grammar School failed Matric, in 1930 went to Regents Street Poly on 2 year course on Photography, where he was a part time Instructor under Lawrence Hibberd, also on the course was Gordon Craig(later to become head Kodak 35mm)

SIDE 1 & 2 continues:

First paid job was with ERCOL furniture makers as part time photographer - then joined Studio Briggs commercial photographers stayed there until 1939 war when he joined RAOC as a grade 2 clerk at Victoria Barracks Portsmouth, promoted to L/cp then Corporal then sent to OCTU at Leicester where he come out as a 2nd Lt. posted to Clothing Depot - 1941 went to India on troopship Windsor Castle to Bombay then to Dulali where he joined an.Army Ordenance Field Park, from there to GHQ Delhi from there to Indian Army P.R Film Unit in Bombay in Caltex House where they had one single lens Eyemo camera - from there to Calcutta where he met Bryan Langley- then on to Cairo, Ceylon and Assam where he witnessed the beginning of the 14th Army push to regain Burma talks of Oscar Bovill (a newsreel cameraman from Universal ?) He suffered from pleurisy and then invalided back to the UK via Paléstine then to a British General Hospital in the Canal Zone where he got sandfly fever, after recovery repat to UK on troopship Britannic landing at Liverpool from there sent to join AKS at Wembley to make training films - remembers Tubby Englander, Ray Pitt,Geoff Foot, OC Col Fingelstone. Demobbed in 1946 - joined Realist worked with John Taylor, Basil Wright in 1947. Talks of working with Maggie Thompson, Dennis Parsons. One film still shown made by Basil Wright with Bernard Miles which he shot was "Gun Dogs". Talks of working with Lewis Gilbert on a film for UNO called “Under One Roof". When Realist folded Edgar Anstey asked him to join the newly formed Transport Film Unit. He talks about working in Prague about the time of the troubles and meeting Jiri Weiss. Joined BT Films in 1949 talks about the early days when they took over the March of Time premises in Saville Row. Talks of the happy years from 1950 - 1964/5 he became the Chief Cameraman, but because being a "chief" would mean he would have to receive a rather larger salary then they were prepared to pay he was called Senior Cameraman. He talks

of Basil Sangster, Reg Johnson, David Watkins, Billy Williams and Jimmy Ritchie. Some talk about Ken Fairbairn, The Unit was busy in 1965-70 there would be as many as 6 units out working. Talks about cameras. About location filming. He then talks about training cameramen who went through his hands.

SIDE 3:  He talks about the photographing of "Between the Tides" a natural history film and the problems that he faced. Talks of meters then about a Stag Fight which was shot in Scotland. People who made a deep impression on him -Lewis Gilbert, Ralph Keen, Jack Holmes and Stewart MacAllister who had strange working hours. Was Shop Steward at Realist, joined ACT in 1945 number 8055 member of the Shorts and Documentary Committee. Talks about the various Studios in which he worked, Walton, Marylebone, St Johns Wood. Talks about lighting and having a good gaffer, training on the job.


Talks about lighting generally and how TV has degraded photography - more talk about Transport Film Unit in the early days , he would not wish: to change course if he was to start over again - then more talk about the Poly training.

approx  half this side used.