Interview with Brian Cross, National Film Unit (NFU) cameraman (1954 –1989). Recorded 13/09/1999.
Tape 1. Side 1.
Discusses beginning at the NFU and the shift from trainee to senior cameraman. Talks about the task of both filming and directing and the process they used to create their films. Talks in depth about KB Country, mentions David Sims and Val Federoff in relation to the latter.
Mentions hard taskmaster Bob Laprell and the notion of being a ‘gang of enthusiasts’. Talks about the issue of ‘hierarchy’ and mentions the new ‘corporate culture’ that appeared in the 80’s. Discusses the Miramar staff social occasions, mentions Mrs Doris Clarke ‘the mother of the Film Unit’.
Talks in depth about his time working on A Ship Sails Home. Explains his love of filming and ‘melding images’, talks about his own style of filming. Tells story about being ‘hijacked’ at the Denniston Pub during the filming of KB Country.
Tape 1. Side 2.
Talks in depth about the recent remake of After 90 Years made by David Sims and Hugh McDonald. Discusses how his passion for trains, mentions Cyril Morton and Geoff Scott. Explains how ideas for films came about and the issue of expenditure for film stock. Mentions the film Score by Arthur Everard. Discusses the advent of sync sound, discusses standard Hollywood issue cameras with Blimp. Talks about the ARI 2C cameras. Discusses 16mm and 35mm emulsions and different gauge films. Discusses the creativity of the NFU, mentions 2 ‘crazy’ films that starred film makers from the NFU. Talks briefly about censorship and propaganda. Talks about film works on Maori and Polynesian peoples, mentions John O’Shea and the Weekly Review material. Talks about film making as being ‘an adventure’. Talks in depth about filming a railway film with David Sims. Mentions Kingston Flyer.
Tape 2. Side 1.
Discusses the helicopter mount hired for the 1974 Commonwealth Games. Talks about the ‘boys in the workshop’, [Nevan Tolder] and Stuart Moreson making NFU’s own helicopter mount. Mentions Melvyn Scott and camera maintenance.
Talks about the response to This is New Zealand (1970), mentions Kell Fowler and the ‘Beachcraft’ which did the aerial mapping shots. Discusses the notion of film creating a sense of national pride. Talks about distributions of Pictorial Parades. Mentions Ron Bowie and animator, Bob Stenhouse in relation to the two Oscar nominations. Discusses the various awards won by NFU film makers. Mentions cameramen Mike Fuller and Mark Olson. Talks about NFU employees who left NZ to work, mentions Bob Allen and Robert Steele. Discusses advent of television and effect on the NFU. Mentions Ken White who became head cameraman at the television studios. Talks about the advent of colour film stock. Talks briefly about lighting and emulsions. Talks about Earthquake film. Lists different disciplines involved in making films.
Tape 2. Side 2.
Praises the advent of the [Nagra] tape recorder which achieved sync sound. Describes a ‘blimp’. Talks about David Sims’ films made with sound recorded by Kit [Rollins]. Talks about the ‘light-hearted’ nature of the staff. Discusses segregation of men and women in the NFU staff room. Talks briefly about pay inequality, goes on to talk about Kath O’Brien. Tells story about filming Correspondence School with O’Brien. Discusses Margaret Thompson and other women film makers.