Robert Allen Sound Technician at The National Film Unit
Begins by discussing how he became interested in and involved in the film industry. Talks about doing his own film screenings in a shed at home. Mentions hearing about the film When the Gangsters come to Christchurch, and wanting to get to know the boys who made it. Recalls going with his school to One Hundred Crowded Years and Rewi’s Last Stand.
Mentions meeting Roger Mirams and Maurice Otley. Mentions studying civil engineering and going to Miramar studios, meeting Ron Fenton. Discusses ‘call ups’ for the army and how this related to his working at the Miramar films. Talks about meeting Oxely Hughan, Ron Cameron, Stan Hall and having his first tour of the National Film Unit (NFU), recalls his first impressions. Talks about working as a sound assistant with Geoff Scott.
Discusses the event of the Polish refugee children arriving, and the number of people filming it for a Weekly Review. Robert Steele, Burt Bridgeman etc. mentioned. Discusses how the Weekly Reviews were put together, mentions director/commentary writers Sid Brooks, Oxely Hughan, Russel Reed. Discusses his sound production job with Geoff Scott in depth. Discusses the length of film and number of takes they would usually do for one Weekly Review.
Describes in depth the system of processing/developing the picture negatives and the sound reels. Discusses deadlines for the Weekly Reviews and travelling around New Zealand to film them. Mentions some of the equipment used at this time.
Talks about other government film he worked on including Journey for Three, The Railway Worker, The Coaster. Talks about Margaret Thomson’s First Two years at School and sound techniques used. Mentions working with Brian Brake, Randall Bettie, Peter Alcock and Betty McKinnon in the making of Journey for Three in the South Island. Discusses their time at the Hermitage and filming on Mt Cook.
Discusses the time just after the war and having an impounded Leni Riefenstahl film of the Olympic Games. Talks about the sports filming that he was involved in, gives reference to the German sports films of the time.
Pivac asks about the politics of the Film Unit and the Cecil Holmes incident. Allen answers in depth, mentions Housing in New Zealand made by Michael Forlong and the Labour Government. Discusses wages and the Public Services Association. The Unit proposal of a stop work meeting is discussed. Explains the Cecil Holmes incident. Mentions Captain Thunderbolt and Three in One directed by Holmes.
Discusses leaving the Unit and working in Australia with Rudall Hayward and Cecil Holmes. Mentions Warner Brothers and working on a Burt Lancaster film in Fiji. Talks about arriving in Britain after Fiji and trying to get employment. Talks about his job for 2 years at the BBC Film Unit (1952-54) as an assistant sound recordist. Goes on to discuss his jobs at Pinewood Studios, Pathe Studios and Movietone News. Recalls his work in the Theatre and his time in Portugal making a film, ‘a real load of rubbish’. The Valiant Years series he worked on is mentioned. Discusses the feature film he worked on Girl on Approval with Rachel Roberts.
Pivac inquires about the seven NZ features Allen has worked on. Mentions working with Sam Neil on a documentary, Tony Williams on Solo, Ngati and Leon Narbey’s Illustrious Energy, discusses. Mentions working on The Footstep Man, mentions Crush. Discusses working on Bad Blood.
Continues talking about Bad Blood, talks about Andrew Brown the Producer. Discusses working with Edward Fox on The Jackal and a television series. Discusses the difference between making films in New Zealand and further a field. Talks about Sam Neil’s Cinema of Unease, and the type of films New Zealanders make in general. Mentions Ruby and Rata.