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Richard Massingham


Difficulties finding work
Walter Lassally Film-maker
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After the job at Riverside collapsed, I became, willy-nilly, a freelance which we all had to do, and I looked for work as... mainly on documentaries. And for the next two years, more or less, I worked, off and on, as camera assistant on documentaries and focus puller on second units of features, and, in between there were also times when I couldn't even find work in those capacities. It wasn't easy. I had a spell... a whole summer, as developer and printer of pictures they used to take at the seaside. In those days you had little men going round the seaside with their Leicas, taking, or even pretending to take, a snapshot and saying: look I've taken your picture and you can have it for so much, 5/- and it'll be ready tomorrow. And we used to develop these things and we had... there was a lot of it. We had... we had 45 Leica rolls per day, which were all developed in little tanks. And on Mondays we had 90 because of the whole of the weekend. And then they were developed and they were printed there, and sent out to the various people who sent them in. So I did that for a whole summer. And I was also a film repairer in a 16mm film library and also a projectionist for a while, in two different cinemas. Because, even getting... even getting... temporary, you know, getting work as focus puller or as clapper boy - no, clapper boy I didn't do. Focus puller or camera assistant on documentaries, even getting that kind of work was... it was patchy, distinctly patchy.

Born in Germany, cinematographer Walter Lassally (1926-2017) was best known for his Oscar-winning work on 'Zorba the Greek'. He was greatly respected in the film industry for his ability to take the best of his work in one area and apply it to another, from mainstream to international art films to documentary. He was associated with the Free Cinema movement in the 1950s, and the British New Wave in the early 1960s. In 1987 he published his autobiography called 'Itinerant Cameraman'.

Listeners: Peter Bowen

Peter Bowen is a Canadian who came to Europe to study and never got round to heading back home. He did his undergraduate work at Carleton University (in Biology) in Ottawa, and then did graduate work at the University of Western Ontario (in Zoology). After completing his doctorate at Oxford (in the Department of Zoology), followed with a year of postdoc at the University of London, he moved to the University's newly-established Audio-Visual Centre (under the direction of Michael Clarke) where he spent four years in production (of primarily science programs) and began to teach film. In 1974 Bowden became Director of the new Audio-Visual Centre at the University of Warwick, which was then in the process of introducing film studies into the curriculum and where his interest in the academic study of film was promoted and encouraged by scholars such as Victor Perkins, Robin Wood, and Richard Dyer. In 1983, his partner and he moved to Greece, and the following year he began to teach for the University of Maryland (European Division), for which he has taught (and continues to teach) biology and film courses in Crete, Bosnia, and the Middle East.

Tags: freelance, film, sea-side, photographs, focus puller, projectionist, film repairer

Duration: 1 minute, 46 seconds

Date story recorded: June 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008