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Thoughts about moving on – 1955

I had worked at Movietonews since 1945 and, by 1955, I was well schooled in the technique of motion pictures.  I had sat through miles of “rushes” and seen them edited. I had seen the rushes of almost four thousand news stories.  As time went on, I became more and more critical of the Movietonews “cutters”.

I had a close liaison with the laboratories so that I knew all the various processes connected with film and duplicating.  I felt that I was capable of something better and I felt drawn toward the technical side of the industry.  I had been rejected as a cameraman, so the only thing left was to concentrate on editing.  However, this would not be possible at Movietone.  It was not even desirable at Movietone, I thought that I could do better.  The problem with editing at Movietone was that it was so repetitive with no room for experiment.


British Movietone News (Photo credit: Leo Reynolds)

In the meantime, I got talking to Victor Gover, one of the many visitors we had at Movietone. Vic Gover had his office round the corner in Soho Street.  Victor was a director of a large number of feature  films and, from time to time, he would make a documentary film.

I told him that I was interested in film editing.  He knew that I already had a good deal of knowledge of what you might call the “Art” of editing. However, in spite of experiencing the whole editing process over a long period, I was not familiar with the “hands on” bit, literally cutting and joining the film.  I also needed to learn more about the technical requirements concerning film, that is, what you can and cannot do with film.  I had already gained considerable knowledge of what can be done in the laboratory with film, but I wanted to know it all.  I was already an editor, I was the Foreign Editor at Movietonews.

He invited me to come round to his cutting room after work and “mess about” with film.  I went round there several times a week and soon got the hang of it.

I also went into the depths of the laboratory and learned as much as possible about processing, printing and titling.  I paid several visits to Kay’s Laboratory at Finsbury Park which specialised in 16mm.  I needed to learn all about 16mm because I already saw the future in Television which was using 16mm as its main source of film.

After a few months, I was ready for anything.

For the moment, I was occupied with the progress of newsfilm through the Movietone and UPI system. At the end of each day, I was responsible for the despatch of  packages to the BBC at Alexandra Palace.  On July 5th, the BBC started their first nightly visual news programme.

Terence Gallacher

Terence Gallacher

Now, on a daily basis, we could see the fruits of our labour as the B.B.C. screened the stories supplied by us.  We could see how they handled the re-editing and presentation.  It was all valuable information.

The association between UPI and Movietone was to last for almost ten years, but it was always a difficult partnership and sometimes fractious.  UPI had teamed up with Movietone all round the world.  UPI was an American company and almost everything they did was different from the rather staid management of Movietone.

The truth was that UPI’s requirement to satisfy the BBC (their only client at the time) often conflicted with the requirements of Movietonews.  The BBC could actually commission news stories that Movietone did not want.  However Movietone were obliged to provide a crew to shoot the chosen story.  Although the majority of UPI staff, in London, were British, they had taken on the American way of business.

The head of the UPI television operation in London was Richard S. Clark and he operated out of Bouverie Street where the main UPI Bureau was based.

On his staff, at that time, was one Ian Fawcett, a New Zealander, and an Englishman named Kenneth Warr, later joined by Martin Bishop, Kenneth Coyte and George Carey.  I used to speak with them on a daily basis, but I was not to meet them for almost six years.

I liaised with the UPI team for months perfecting the system of newsgathering. Soon, the European broadcasters were becoming clients, the German stations, like NDR and ZDF, the French ORTF, the Italian RAI, NOS in Holland and BRT/RTB in Belgium.

The daily packages sent to these stations were snapped up and broadcast with enthusiasm.  The whole period was experimental.  No one group or persons knew what was ideal material for broadcasting.  This would come by trial and error.

So, here was I, doing an interesting job, but thinking at the same time that there was no way forward, no progress to be made.

I was obliged to prepare, thoroughly, for the future.

© 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 other articles about Movietone click here.

One Comment Post a comment
  1. John H. Schaeffer #

    Hi Terry

    I have arrived back in Sydney and continue to really appreciate all your stories and learning about your Movietone experiences. You bring the library back to life.

    With warm regards and best wishes

    John Schaeffer

    October 2, 2012

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