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Colleagues: Norman Fisher – Movietone

Norman Fisher joined Movietone in 1936, he remained with the company until 1978 when he retired, but still covered a story in 1979, the year that Movietone ceased operations.

Norman Thomas McLeod Fisher was born in 1917, he was a Scot with a fine Edinburgh accent.

He also had a mild impediment of speech, almost a stutter.  Incredibly, when we crossed the border back into Scotland, there was no longer a trace of his impediment.  Weird !

He was the cameraman who filmed Neville Chamberlain‘s famous address at Heston Airport.  Movietone sent two cameramen, Paul Wyand was close to Chamberlain as he made his speech, but his camera jammed.  Norman Fisher was on the control tower, in order to take a wider shot. Norman used a long focus lens to capture what is now a famous piece of film.

In 1939, along with soundman Martin Gray, he was attached to the British Expeditionary Force in France.

They filmed the retreat of the BEF through Belgium and France.  Their Talbot 95 camera car broke down in Boulogne and had to be abandoned.  He and Martin Gray, grabbed as much equipment as they could and left France for England on May 31st 1940.

Norman was sent to the Far East and filmed the Malayan campaign and stayed until the fall of Singapore.

During the War, he also worked in Java, The Middle East, Tunisia and Australia.

BUFVC: Norman Fisher Collection

He filmed the liberation of Greece.  He did not see much of home.

Norman Fisher was a top class cinematographer who would later be chosen as director of photography on a number of short films and documentaries made by Movietone.  These included, Lace On The Glass for Ind Coope Breweries and  “Sudden Summer” for B.O.A.C. which was a travelogue featuring four countries that B.O.A.C served.

Other documentaries included a tourism film for the States of Jersey Tourist Board called Island of the Long Summer and the film Ski On Water covering European Water-ski championships held at Lochearnhead, for the National Benzole Company.

For the newsreel, Norman was preferred cameraman to cover cricket matches.  He excelled in the coverage of cricket, though cameraman Ronnie Noble said of Norman, “Norman Fisher is a newsreel cameraman who detests cricket. There’s only one thing he detests more – filming cricket“.

In the Sixties, when I was Assignments Manager at Movietone, he would come to me with his “dates”, that is the dates of performances of Shakespeare that he and his wife had booked up for at the Royal Shakespeare Theatre at Stratford.  I was always able to move crews around to enable him to take his seats.  He was not alone, all the other cameramen had reasons to be excused duties from time to time.

In 1970, I embarked on a series of analytical films, while at UPITN, concerning Arsenal Football Club.  This required a specialist approach to filming a football match, quite unlike what is required for broadcasting a match.  Norman was excellent in being able to keep to the system and producing brilliant scenes suitable for analysis, this is a subject for a future article.

Norman Fisher was Movietone’s Chief Cameraman for twenty-five years.

Additional links:

British Film Institute – listing of Norman Fisher’s documentaries for Movietone.

ACTT History Project – PDF transcript of the 1989 interview with Norman Fisher for the ACTT’s History Project.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2011.  Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Terence Gallacher and with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For more articles in the Colleagues series click here.

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