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Cameraman tales: Paul Wyand

In 1928, Paul Wyand was working as a cameraman for Fox Movietone of New York. He was based in London.  He was cabled with some outrageous demands to obtain pictures that were virtually unobtainable.  He gives one example “Vital we have pix of Prince of Wales wearing kilt with close-up of knees”.

However, he did receive one demand that he thought he might be able to obtain.

Essential you secure pix Royal baby”.  Princess Elizabeth was then about a year old and had never been filmed by a newsreel.

"Princess Lilibet". Derivative image...Paul recalls:  “I could hardly knock at the Duke of York’s front door and demand to take pictures of his daughter. Then, as I considered the problem, I thought;  But what about the back door ?” and hastened to 145 Piccadilly…….

The following morning Paul entered Hyde Park, soon after it had opened.  He found the hedge which surround the Duke’s garden where, if he could see through it, he would be able to film the Princess in her pram on the lawn.

He took with his a pair of secateurs in order to cut for himself a hole big enough to poke the lens of his camera through.

Apparently, while he was doing this and later peering through the hole in the hedge,  members of the public and even the patrolling policemen passed by, paying no attention to him.

The first morning he waited, but the Princess did not appear.  That afternoon it rained.  The following day, the pram was wheeled out but the hood was up and it was facing away from Paul’s camera.   Then, on the following day, the pram was left outside the narrow angle he had in which to shoot.

It took him two weeks of patient waiting before he obtained the first newsreel shots of Princess Elizabeth who was to become Queen Elizabeth II.

The Fox Movietone

Image via Wikipedia

He was congratulated by his bosses in New York who said “Nothing yet to beat Paul Wyand’s pictures of the Royal baby”.  At the time, Fox were offering £12.50 reward for the best pictures obtained by a Fox cameraman anywhere in the world.  Paul thought he was sure to win it, but he was beaten by an American cameraman who filmed newly- bathed puppies who were placed in socks and hung out to dry on a clothes line.

Paul recalls that he could never remember the bonus going to a cameraman outside America.

© Terence Gallacher and terencegallacher.com, 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 terencegallacher.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

For more articles in the Cameraman tales series click here.

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