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FILM GAUGES

8mm filmstock was devised by cutting earlier 16mm celluloid in half to make filming more accessible for the masse.
The problem with the 8mm filmstock devised from 16mm, was that the sprockets holes took up a sizeable area of each frame. Kodak experimented by making sprockets vertical instead of horizontal so allowing more light to reach the lens. This they called Super 8 as opposed to the earlier Standard 8.
I wanted to make genuine films that could be shown to the public which is why I invested in this Super 8 camera. Like most new developments it had its problems. The film cassette was in a square box where the film had to make a figure of 8 twisted circuit before it reached the lens. I lost many an opportunity through jamming. I’m not prone to using bad language but I thought it! There had to be something more reliable,
Fuji came up with the answer, – Single 8 gauge. They used a much thinner acetate filmstock which could be loaded into a flat box. It had the added advantage in that it wouldn’t break in the projector. If sprockets became distorted a plastic spatula usually did the trick of squashing them flat again.
I bought their simple point and shoot camera and unlike the dense Kodachrome, the thinner Fujichrome gave considerably brighter pictures. The publicity said that, “if it was good enough for 35mm major epics it was good enough for amateurs.” I was on my way to making my own real films.
This inspired me to buy a sophisticated Fuji Single 8 camera with which I won many awards.




EXTRACTS FROM A FILM MAKERS DIARY

Now we were home from India we purchased our first television – black and white, but enough to inspire me to make serious documentaries. Channel 2 was open for a few hours a day showing short sponsored films on various crafts and industries. I studied their techniques and tried to emulate them with my own editing.
My obsession meant that we had an incentive as a family to go places which might provide a theme as a subject for filming. I wasn’t interested in home movies with family members clowning or staring at the camera. I sometimes used them to give human interest or action in a scene. Family and the boys growing up were kept strictly on a separate reel for home consumption.
In India I only had a simple point and shoot camera. Now I was ready for something where I had complete control over focussing and zooming. The camera I bought, sadly didn’t have the same quality lens as my cheap Bell & Howell. This disappointment made me consider Kodak’s new Super 8 gauge which didn’t entail opening the camera half way through to reverse the reel of film.

HOME AT LAST

We were back in England after two exotic years in India. September 1961, a late summer heatwave and I was in Portsmouth Royal Hospital with windows wide open and everyone complaining about the heat. My blood was thin from the living in the tropics and I kept asking for more blankets.
We returned to our home in Crawley in the November. It took a while to settle back, especially for the boys who had no memories of England.
At the first opportunity I looked at my dozens of 50ft reels of film. I bought an editor and everything needed for splicing (joining) Standard 8 film. I worked it out that I had a possible five distinct aspects of India. Delhi and it’s surrounds, rural scenes, tourist attractions, festivals and Himalayan holidays.
Initially I removed the rubbish, mainly footage damaged by light when having to open the camera to turn the reels half way. I’d had no training and cement splicing shots together was time consuming so I put the editing to one side, but not the camera. We were out and about all winter and I filmed every opportunity.

SAILING HOME

September 1961 and we were on our way home from India. The 24 hour train journey to Bombay was no problem this time. Plenty of interest to film.
In Bombay docks where our ship, SS Himalaya, waited for us to board.
It was unbelievable. A huge white modern ship, and what luxury compared with the journey out to India. That ship was ready for the scrapheap. It was old, primitive and with 12 days of serious storms, seasickness and food poisoning. Life was sheer hell !!
Now we were on a world cruise vessel travelling first class and scheduled to stop at major ports in daylight. The weather was glorious.
Our first port of call was Aden where I bought a portable Olivetti typewriter – ready for me to learn to type my first novel. On the way out Peter had bought me a cine projector at midnight – A bleak town where trees only grew in tubs with a backdrop of high mountains..
We sailed up the Suez Canal in daylight and where I used the ship’s swimming pool for what was to be the last time I ever went swimming – England was far too cold by comparison. At the top end of the canal, Port Said. Here we were ferried on shore and a guide took us sightseeing.
The Med was a hot calm journey to Naples. With two toddlers we opted for the chairlift to the smoking Vesuvius crater rather than a tour of Pompeii.
Our next stop was Gibraltar harbour but we were not allowed to leave the ship. The Spanish were in a truculent mood. So far we had enjoyed everything the ship offered – good food, fun games and a swimming pool. We had no problems travelling up the Atlantic coast and even the Bay of Biscay was calm.
Our first sight of England was the cliffs at Stark Point in Devon. It was fascinating to see the English coast from the sea. We had left home from Southampton but now we were to dock in Tilbury. We had walked across the Seven Sisters cliffs many time and now we enjoyed a panoramic view of the whole range from the ship. It was here the pilot joined us.
My father met us at Tilbury and took our mountain of luggage while we travelled to Portsmouth by train. I had to go into hospital for a major operation and our house was still let until December.

FLASHES OF MEMORY

The mischievous striped chipmunks almost tame when offered food
Lizards blowing up their red frilled necks for defence.
Geckos clinging to room walls catching insects that carry disease.
A small swarm of locusts passing through Delhi.
A sandstorm seeping through every nook and crevice into our flat.
An earthquake late one evening that violently shook everything in the flat but caused little damage. Our two children slept through it.
Exquisite architecture throughout India.
Beautiful handicrafts.
Colour everywhere.

Chickens no larger than pigeons.
Grey sugar flecked with foreign bits.
Boiled curdled buffalo milk.
Cheese – ugh!
Grey bread that had to be tolerated. One mother pleaded with a new office arrival coming by plane to bring her a newly baked loaf. He thought it was just a joke until he faced the truth and her disappointment.

In the 1960s labour saving goods were scarce so anything British brought in from the UK sold at a premium when anyone was returning home.
In exchange, we packed six handmade dining chairs, souvenirs, beautiful hand embroidered linen and masses of research material for when I could write my first novel.
We were ready return to England and our own home in Crawley.

LASTING MEMORIES

As our two years in India drew to a close. I had accumulate hundreds of feet of film and also been inspired to write a novel. With this in mind, I had collected a load of useful facts in the form of souvenirs. guide books, magazines, newspaper cuttings, model dolls, statistics and history.
We left at the end of September, at the end of the monsoon season. In the previous months the temperature dropped from 112º with a dry atmosphere to a less overpowering 90º but with maximum humidity – sheer hell !!
Before global warning had become generally accepted, the rains regularly broke on St Swithen’s Day 15th July. And did it rain !! Out beyond the UK Compound the deep road-side drainage nullahs had filled and the roads were waist deep in water. Men pushed their bicycles and children laughed and shouted with glee having the time of their lives swimming and diving in this their annual swimming pool.
Inside our flooded compound, furniture floated in the sunken tennis courts. The pond outside the office block had disappeared and an unsuspecting visitor drove right into it.
By late September when we were booked to sail home, the rains had come several times. Our lasting memory is of the spectacular sunsets, a kaleidoscope of ever changing patterns in the sky.

BEATING RETREAT

Beating Retreat is a spectacular display of military bands with a greater variety of colourful Indian regiments than we could possibly see in Britain. This event takes place one evening during the week of Republic Day celebrations and like the folk festival, photographers are invited to the morning dress rehearsals.
The setting is superb. The bands, like all major parades, march from the domed President’s Palace, over the vista, dropping down to the vast Parliament Square between the twin architectural secretariat buildings. The entrance to Rajpath is cordoned off and the audience view from three sides of the square.
Towards the end of the display, every drummer of each contingent parades in front of the conductor to beat the retreat. A bugler, high up in the secretariat dome completes the ceremony by playing the last post, so timed that the final notes fill the square as the sun sets and the lights are switched on, outlining every dome and tower in the vicinity.
Back home in England I was able to make a colourful record of all three Republic Day festivals worthy of showing to the public.

REPUBLIC DAY CELEBRATIONS

India was once ruled by Britain, well known for its spectacular pageantry.which the modern India has inherited. Republic Day is celebrated throughout India for a week of splendid displays, especially in Delhi.
On 26th January the celebrations start with a glorious parade. The procession starts at the President’s Palace, climbs over the vista between the twin secretariat buildings and across Parliament Square. It continues down the mile long Rajpath and through the impressive India Gate. From there it turns off on the road to Old Delhi for a five mile long route of continuous gaiety.
All three services, army, navy and airforce, including the camel corp and skiing brigrade in colourful regalia, lead the parade. These are followed by national services such as nurses and boy scouts, then many school children dancing and performing continuously along the route. Finally we have the fun brigade with decorated elephants and floats. Forty five minutes of pleasure for all.
Peter was a member of the UK High Commission camera club which issued press tickets for the parade. We had positions high up on scaffolding with a wonderful view of everything. With my fixed lens cine camera, telephoto screw on lens and needing to change reels every 25 feet, I missed some of the parade.
The following year I was able to fill in the gaps from different positions and angles by following the parade on foot. After home editing I had a cohesive record of the Republic Day parade. fir for a public audience.

NAINI TAL

Naini Tal at 6000 feet above sea level, was one of a chain of 14 lakes. The far side of this long lake was a sheer mountain slope of trees with a few luxurious houses dotting the hillside like Christmas berries. The town of Naini Tal with the main shopping area at the lake head, covered the lower flat shore.
The lake had a yachting club with their boats sailing majestically up and down the length. The peaceful setting was often broken by the raucous honking of large flocks of geese.
Our hotel ooked down on the lake from the head. At night we sat on the verandah looking up at the sky twinkling with millions of stars which seemed so bright and almost within touch. We enjoyed a fascinating display of shooting stars.
On top of the hill behind the town a white flag would be flown only when the Himalayan snow-capped mountains were visible through the clouds of mist. Early morning was the best time to see the mountains clearly.
We hired horses to take us up to the viewing platform. Our two boys loved it but at the top I sent my steed back. I was never going to be a horse rider. As we climbed upwards through the trees the silver haired langur monkeys with black faces and long tails, looked down on us with disdain.
From Snow View we had the most spectacular 150 mile wide panoramic view of the mighty Himalayan range of snow-capped peaks barely 60 miles away as the crow flies, rising over a blanket of tree tops. Only one day a year was it possible to see Everest but not on that day.
By now I had acquired a tele-photo lens to screw on to my cine camera. I was so mesmerised by the breath-taking scene I couldn’t stop filming. Sad to say that when it came to editing back home in Crawley I had to discard all but the best of these shots.

ANOTHER HIMALAYAN HOLIDAY

During our second year in Delhi (1961) we chose Naini Tal for our annual holiday in the cooler Himalayas. Whereas our journey last year to Mussoorie was hair raising, this year it proved quite hilarious with plenty of opportunities for filming.
To travel from Delhi to Naini Tal you first have to cross the mighty River Ganges with several miles of swamps on either side. This 13 mile journey took three hours by train.
You drive your car onto the open trucks then the steam engine pulls the whole train out of the siding and backs it into the station just to pick up a brakes van. By this time more cars have arrived, so you are shunted back again into the siding and the whole procedure is repeated again and again. With only three trains a day, no doubt the latecomers appreciate this consideration. After all, it’s not their fault they were late. It is nothing unusual usual to wait half an hour at a level crossing or negotiate road works which often take up the full width of the road at once with no alternative route. At the end of your journey the engine is shunted to the end of the train so you are pulled out of the station and shunted into a siding before you can continue on your way.
After the train, you are back on the road with another long delay caused this time when one single lane bridge across a river serves both two-way trains and road traffic. They don’t open the gates if another train is due later. You just wait up to an hour even if the temperature is 118º in the full sun at midday. The stench is appalling too with wild pigs and other animals roaming around.
To reach Naini Tal from the plains you climb 22 miles of corkscrew road. Like all hill stations, there is no motor traffic allowed through the town. Our car was stopped at the boundary and we and our luggage were taken to our hotel by cycle rickshaws along the flat road round the lake.