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Cameraman tales: Harry Lehrer and his camera

12 June 1961, Harry Lehrer, a staff cameraman at ABV2 wrote me a letter which, in part said:

“… John, I believe, has already told you that I am no longer at the mercy of the A.B.C. for I had an unfortunate mishap when doing a film on yachting, I fell into the water, and being a Saturday evening when I returned to the studios I did not advise anyone of the accident.  Consequent to this, the powers that be deemed me to have been negligent and, as a result, and after a short period of suspension, I was given the bullet.  As we are auxiliary staff there was just nothing one could do to stop the injustice, so I am now freelancing”.

(All the camera staff , the editing staff and the library staff were graded as “Auxiliary”.  Their salaries and working conditions were outlined under what was known as “Decision 20”.  This referred to the Act of Parliament that was voted on decision by decision to set the wage scale and conditions of each. The category covered those people that were deemed to be “artistic” and that they might become “dated” and become unsuitable for work with the A.B.C.  They had to be in a group that could be dismissed without a cause being offered)

What Harry neglected to say in his letter was the fact that when he fell into the water, his Arriflex camera went with him.  Cameramen are, usually, advised that, should a camera become immersed in salt water, then it should be immersed in fresh water as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, Harry was never told this and, by the time he took the camera into the workshop, it was already a write-off.

Harry had been the first active television film cameraman in Victoria and it was a sad way to go, he shot footage of a plane crash at Mount Macedon that featured in the very first news bulletin at ABV2 in Melbourne.  However, he picked himself up and started all over again to become a successful freelance cameraman, running his own production company before moving into real estate.

© Terence Gallacher and, 2012.  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 Cameraman tales series click here.

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