BW 2/218 - 'Films: General Principles of Production - 1939-40'

Relevant Films: [Too numerous to list]

This is a transcript of some content from the file listed above, held at The National Archives.
TIME/IMAGE has only copied selected text deemed to be of interest from this individual piece. The following digital record is neither the complete contents of the piece, nor has it passed through any form of quality control since originally written. All page names are prefixed with 'TNA' for ease of identification.

NB. 'Files closed November 13th 1941' on back of Fire-watching duty rota. [File henceforth dealt with in reverse.]

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- June 1939, A.P.
'”Voice of Europe”. - This is a British version of “March of Time” and is made in Dufaycolour. So far two films have been made:
Czechoslavakia [sic] (2 reels)
The producers of the films are: F.A. Richardson [&] Eric Barrow
The film is distributed by: General Film Distributors”

- [British Council paper] P1030711.JPG
“Extract from the draft minutes of the 26th meeting of the Joint Committee on Films held on 14th June 1939 at 7:30pm.
[Stuck on] 2. Production of New Films.
The Chairman said that at the Finance committee meeting of the British Council on June 13th, the £10,000 for the production of new films which had been cut from the Joint Committee's budget had been restored.”

- 27/06/39 Draft to Primrose [still with TIDA] (not sent)
Suggestions for new film ideas, including 'The Border Country', 'Port of London', and 'Horse-Breeding, racing, etc.' [photos]. Also says “I have passed on your suggestions for new productions to Johnstone and Jennings [BC].”

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- 27/06/39 Mr Branch to Jennings & Johnstone.
“Please see suggestions for new films handed to me by Primrose 26/6/39. I do not think they make a very brilliant schedule for a film department which employes a technical staff of five at about £1,400 p.a. Primrose intends to put these suggestions up to the Joint Committee on Wednesday, June 28th.”
Various suggestions for films, including “Shipbuilding”, “Scientific Research”, “Living in London”, “Shakespeare's Country”, “The British Museum”, “The Navy”, “John Jones, Citizen”, “Parliament”, “Life at a University”, “Newcastle to London”, and “Football”.
Includes comment re: “Living in London” - “Mr Guedalla's symbolic “Maltese Tobacconist” will remain unenlightened.”


-28/6/39 Jenning's response.

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-Treatments for “Living in London” and “Shipbuilding”.

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- 30/06/39 Branch to Johnstone & Jennings
Notes on other production and distribution companies, with a special mention of Bruce Woolfe at GBI. [photos]

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-07/07/39 Branch>? [photos]
Budget for productions from latest Joint Committee meeting.
“Navy Film: £1500
R.A.F.: £1000
Shipbuilding: £1000
Parliament: £3000
Calendar of Events: £1000
Horse-Breeding and Racing: £500
[Total: £8000]
Further productions to be started if satisfactory scripts are forthcoming:-
London River: £1000...
Education: £1000...
Life in London: £1500
“Gateways”: £2500...
[Total:] £14000

The total programme under consideration is therefore £4,000 in excess of the £10,000 allocated. But certainly no more than the £10,000 will be spent in the current financial year.”


- More suggestions. [photos].

- 10/07/39 – K.R. Johnstone asks Rowland Kenney (FO), to ask Treasury for permission to use GPO for a couple of films. [photo]

- 24/07/39 - Suggested treatments of films want made by Newsreel Association, directed to Neville Kearney, Secretary.

- 26/07/39 – More suggestions for films! Implies that a grant from Treasury might be forthcoming.

- 28/07/39 – Jennings/Johnstone to Branch footnote about delays in production. [photo]
“...they has as yet no instrument to work with and no technical department to prepare and execute the work for them. The lack of a properly staffed Film Department is the real cause of the delays.”

- 02/08/39 – E.Hale [Treasury] to R.A. Leeper [FO]
Comments of problems with using GPO Film Unit for Joint Committee films, and background to issue. [photos].

- 02/08/39 – Kearney to Johnstone
Reply about Newsreel Assoc making films, and who of the associated companies has offered to make different titles.
Royal Air Force: British Movietonews
Calendar of Events: Gaumont-British News
Horse-Breeding and Racing: Pathé Pictures

Followup letter from Kearney says he thinks there may be difficulties in the attitudes of the above companies.

- Minutes from JC meeting 09/08/39 [photos]
Includes list of appealing producers (many familiar), and progress reports.

- 16/08/39 – Progress on new productions. [photos]

- Minutes from subJC meeting 18/08/39 [photo]
Discusses Shipbuilding, London River, Living in London, and the possibility of getting a Len Lye film made. “It was agreed that Mr Primrose should have a preliminary talk with Mr Len Lye.”

- Minutes from subJC meeting 23/08/39 about production of London River. Oliver Bell [BFI] suggests it being handed from Strand to British Films, and Andrew Buchanan.

- Minutes from JC meeting 08/09/39 [photos]
Chairman now on staff of MOI. “While the Ministry of Information was most anxious to have suitable films produced, at the present moment it had no funds available. The chairman, however, suggested that the Joint Committee should proceed with its programme of films and that part of the money spent might subsequently be recovered from the Ministry.”
List of commitments entered into [photos], including Navy film (now titled S.S. Ionian) and Len Lye film.
Living in London cancelled due to 'war conditions'.
“The chairman said that Mr Hugh Gray of the GPO film unit had submitted an outline of a film called “London at War” showing how London changed from peace to war conditions. My Johnstone said he had looked at the outline treatment and thought it might be an excellent film, but he thought it was a Ministry of Information film and not a Joint Committee film. The same applied to “King as a father of his People”, which he understood was asked for by the Colonial Office. After some discussion it was agreed that these films should be proceeded with and the cost might subsequently be recovered from the Ministry of Information.”
All very interesting, pertaining to continuation of small companies such as Strand, Realist, and British Films.
Also, “Mr Primrose said that though the film 'Living in London' was half promised to the Realist Film Unit, he understood from Mr Cavalcanti that the GPO Film Unit hoped to make this film and that a certain amount of this material had already been shot by the Unit. He suggested that the Realist Film Unit should ask Mr Paul Rotha to submit a suggestion for another film to be made by the Realist Film Unit. It was agreed that the GPO Film Unit should be asked to make the film 'London at War' and that Mr Primrose should ascertain from Mr Cavalcanti the probable cost.”

- 14/12/39 Film Dept to Accounts Dept
Payment request for the “final payment on film “Swinging the Lambeth Walk” in favour of Mr Len Lye, for the sum of £150.

- Minutes from “film committee” meeting 14/12/39. British Council headed cut-n-stick.
Request for additional funds from BC Executive committee to fund Film Department until 31/03/40.
'Balance in hand' listed as £3,189. Is this the funds from the JC? Now amalgamated?

- Minutes from “film committee” meeting 14/12/39.
Future policy of the Film Department [photos]

- 10/01/40 Film Dept to Accounts Dept
Payment request for the “Production of 'These children are safe' final payment”, to The Strand Film Co. Ltd., for £850.

- 29/01/40 Bell to Lt. Col. Charles Bridge.
Stages of making a film. [photos]

-19/01/40 Primrose to Bell
Issues with Her Last Voyage/S.S.Ionian (namely the sinking of the ship involved), the former being a revised version of the latter. Film “produced by the British Council”. Discussion of making another revised version for foreign distribution. [photos] [The S.S.Ionian was a Royal Mail steamer ship, hence the involvement of GPO, sunk by a mine in 11/39.[1] ]

Procedure for involvement of Joint Film Committee. [photos]

- 08/03/40 – External proposal for Local Government film. [photos.]

“The Film Committee has approved the following subjects for new films:
Production March, 1940
Scientific Research
Sea Fishing
Design in Industry

For Production 1940-41
Local Government
Education and Universities (series)
Educational Films (series)
British Commercial Art
British architecture
British music
People of Britain (series)”

- 29/03/40 Primrose> Seymour
“Films: New Productions
I recommend the following payments be made before 31st March:
'Scientific Research' – Gas Light & Coke Co.,
£250 on account – total commitment £500
'Empire Around the Atlantic' – Gaumont British Instructional
£250 on account - total commitment £500
'Fishermen of Britain' – Spectator Short Films
£350 first payment - - total commitment £1000
'Lifeboats' – Elridge and Curtis
£230 second payment - total commitment £700.”

- 06/05/40
Reference to grant fo documentary on documentaries for National Film Library!

- 'New Production Programme – Films to be produced over a Long Period' [photos]
Includes Shipbuilders, Design In Industry [Queen Cotton?], Lloyds, Fishing Industry, Colliers [The New Mine?], Voluntary Hospital System [Student Nurse?], Welfare Centre [Second Freedom?], Police [Man on the Beat/Routine Job], Navy, Football [The Great Game?].
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