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My first feature film: No Resting Place


Forming a filmmakers' co-operative
Wolfgang Suschitzky Film-maker
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The work during the war was interesting for me, and I hope useful too in some ways. Paul Rotha... his company, split up in the ‘40s and we formed the first cooperative film unit in Britain. We joined the cooperative production societies, which was... was quite a surprising number of organisations who organised themselves on a cooperative basis. They even lent us some money to... to start off, and we had a manager whose main job was to get us work, and we had one or two producers, and I think four directors, and two cameramen, myself and a chap called Peter Hennessey. And... we all...w each had a share and we each had a vote on any meetings we had and it worked well and lasted for about 12 years. I was able to get unpaid leave... leave if somebody else wanted me, and it did happen that large organisations like Shell or BP wanted a cameraman and I could go off for a month or two and make films for them, and later on in the ‘50s I got quite a lot of work from the NBC New York — the National Broadcasting Company — the first thing was a... an interview with Nehru in Delhi, and then we made a documentary film about India and the political situation, and later on a programme about South East Asia, which included Burma and Thailand and Malaya. So, very interesting jobs I had, but was still part of the cooperative, which was called DATA.

What sort of equipment were you using?

In filming in England, we only had one camera, which was a clockwork camera which had 200’ magazines and was rather clumsy. The Arriflex was invented by the Germans as a combat camera and was the first one with a mirrored shutter so you could see what you were filming. But we... of course if we had to record sound, we had to have a camera and blimp which made it soundproof and was an enormous box, too heavy for one person to handle, and rather clumsy and difficult to operate. We had of course, professional operators from the studios which we could engage for those jobs which needed sound. The sound was an optical sound in those days. The op... camera had to be set up very carefully, completely level. It had to be... I don’t really know the ins and outs, but there was a camera... a sound cameraman and his assistant, and maybe a third person to play out the cables for micro... the microphones.

Born in Austria, Wolfgang Suschitzky (1912-2016) trained as a photographer and became one of the first in his field to take portraits of animals. After coming to England he worked with Paul Rotha as the cameraman on various documentaries and films such as “No Resting Place”, “Ulysses” and “Get Carter”.

Listeners: Misha Donat

Misha Donat is the son of Wolfgang Suschitzky. He has composed music for the theatre and the cinema (including films directed by Lindsay Anderson, and by Albert Finney). For more than 25 years he was a senior music producer for BBC Radio 3, where he planned and produced the prestigious lunchtime concerts at St John’s, Smith Square, at which many of the world’s leading artists appeared on a regular basis, and also instigated a Young Artists’ Forum as a showcase for musicians of the coming generation. As a broadcaster himself, he has given many radio talks. Misha Donat has contributed a large number of programme notes to the Wigmore Hall, Carnegie Hall, South Bank, Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh Festival, Brighton Festival and other venues, and he has written CD booklets for such labels as Decca, DG, RCA, Philips and Hyperion. He has been a regular contributor to BBC Music Magazine since its inception more than 10 years ago, and has written articles for The London Review of Books, The Guardian, The Musical Times, The Listener, Opera, and other publications. He has taught at the University of California in Los Angeles, and has given lectures and seminars at Vassar College and Bard College in New York State, Johns Hopkins University (Baltimore), and in the UK at Durham University, the Barbican Centre, the Royal Festival Hall, and the Norwich Music festival. He is currently working as a producer for the Philharmonia Orchestra.

Tags: Great Britain, Shell, BP, National Broadcasting Company, New York, Nehru, Delhi, India, South East Asia, Burma, Thailand, Malaya, England, Arriflex, Paul Rotha, Peter Hennessey

Duration: 4 minutes, 48 seconds

Date story recorded: March 2008

Date story went live: 06 August 2009