Movietech at Pinewood Studios, Buckinghamshire

I knew David for just over thirty years; I first met him in 1977 on a commercial that we were supplying equipment on.

About a year later we were to supply equipment on the film Chariots of Fire which David was to light. David had a couple of scenes that needed high-speed photography and we had at the time a high-speed Vinten camera, which ran up to 260 FPS. David requested that we bought the camera down to Brighton for him to shoot some tests, which we agreed to do. So myself and Mike Conners, the focus puller, went down to David’s place. When we got there it was pouring with rain – really heavy. So David got in the car with a lad who was going to be running past camera.

When we got to the sea front we got the camera set up and luckily we found a place to plug the camera into a mains socket from one of the rides there. We were now set to shoot, with the rain still pouring down. David turned to me and said “Do not switch the camera on till I tell you to”. David then walked quite a distance away from the camera, then shouted “Turn over”, which I did, while the young lad ran across camera. We did this about four or five times, then David said “That’s it – lets go back to my place for some tea”.

So we packed the gear up and went back to David’s place. While sitting down to tea, I asked him why he had stood so far back from the camera – was it to see the angle of the boy running through shot or something else, as this had been puzzling me. David turned to me with a slight smile on his face, and said “No my dear boy, I just didn’t see the point of us both getting electrocuted by the mains plugged into the camera”. I couldn’t stop laughing, it just hadn’t dawned on me. From that day on we got on well. Over the years he would often ring me to ask me about a problem or something he wanted to do on a film or commercial. David was a very special person, you always knew where you stood with him and he had a very wicked sense of humour. I miss him very much, he was probably one of the last great characters of the film industry.

John Venebles, Movietech

Photographs of David in the long, renowned, Pinewood corridor. Plus, photographs of a large mechanical ‘thing’ that John and David seemed particularly interested in?!

Rachael’s son Frank spent a day with John at Movietech for his School Work Experience. Meanwhile David, Rachael and Scott, explored the grounds (whilst Movietech shifted aforementioned heavy equipment), before being treated to a wonderful lunch in the wood-panelled Oscar’s restaurant!

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