Island Life Magazine Ltd October/November 2011 - Page 43

INTERVIEW when I bought an ancient toy 35mm film projector, with a torch battery for a lighting source and a handle to turn to motivate the images on the screen.” He soon acquired a 9-5mm machine, opening up a greater choice of material, and enabling him to build a collection of old black and white films. After continuing his passion for movies during and after the war, his big break came in 1959 when he joined The John Lewis Partnership in Oxford Street, London. He became secretary of The Partnership Film Society. He said: “Various film courses were made available for me and a 16mm camera was provided so I could cover events as they came up. I was made a full member of The British Film Institute which opened up many doors for me.” It was at this time that Bob began to work with BFI’s chief programme officer John Huntley, a relationship that was to continue right up to John’s passing away in 2003. Bob and his wife June moved to the Island to run a holiday caravan park. He continued: “I decided to purchase a state of the art 16mm cine camera and get on with some positive film making. My other great interest was railways. The IW Steam Railway was in its early stages and presented me with a wonderful opportunity to record some of its development. My early productions were ‘Terrier to Wootton’, ‘Piccadilly Line to Shanklin’ and ‘02 at Havenstreet’. “In 1987 The Isle of Wight Film Archive was formed and with John Bartlett we became its trustees, with the object to make sure that what remained of the Island's history on film was preserved within the archive.” The demand to watch archive film was high, resulting in screenings in many of the Island's village halls for local film shows. Bob said: “Our position in the Island's cinema scene continued to grow, and the pinnacle of success came with our association with the Minghella family. In 1993 we were engaged to stage our first Gala Charity Film Premiere, with Anthony Minghella's first Hollywood film ‘Mr. Wonderful’. We proved we could do it, and it was hailed as a great success. “This followed on with further premieres, and ‘The English Patient’ ran to full houses for five weeks, and was running during the Oscar night itself. News in 2000 that a Multiplex Cinema would be opening in Newport looked as though it would spell the end of the venture. But within days of the Medina Movie Theatre closing there was uproar from audiences who wanted to still attend, and as a result it soon re-opened. Bob still carries out selecting and bookings films for the Medina, but has handed over the projection operation to two theatre technicians. He added: “These days I am fully engaged in my first love – film production for DVD distribution. My earlier production, ‘Return to Smallbrook’ has now been restored from its original master It was a privilege to meet Anthony Minghella and is currently enjoying a new lease of life. Other titles have drawn heavily from The Isle of Wight Film Archive including ‘Holiday Time in The 60s’ and ‘Yesterday's Movies’ A new series of films are continuing to record events taking place on the Island's Railways at present, ‘Isle of Wight Railway Runaround’ will in time contribute to the archive of the future.” Other film commissions included a very ambitious production ‘Growing Up In Shanklin’ portraying life on the Island over the last 100 years. “I am lucky to say that I am able to pursue my love of moving pictures and have managed to embrace all that modern computer technology can offer. There have never been more exciting opportunities than there are now. It is possible to create films to the most exacting and creative standards, at unbelievably low costs. I am looking forward to many hours in the future creating further films, drawing from the very considerable amount of material that awaits inclusion in productions yet to be completed,” he said. Bob has no hesitation in naming his favourite actor and his favourite all-time film. He said: “It was a privilege to meet Anthony Minghella and his untimely death was a massive loss to the film industry. As for my favourite film, it has to be the 1937 classic ‘Oh, Mr. Porter’ starring Will Hay.” www.visitislandlife.com 43