BW 2/33 - 'Joint Committee on Films: Agenda, Minutes & Correspondence, 1939-1943'

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 'NA' for ease of identification.

  • 15th Feb 1939 - Royal Empire Society writes to Primrose for help financing the finishing of the first in an intended series of 5 films about the Empire.
  • New production progress report.
  • 1940-41 budget vastly expanded to included newsreels, increased number of copies for distribution & purchasing & adapting already-made films.
  • Proposal to establish a mobile film unit, consisting of a van, projector & lecturer to travel to areas where films wouldn't otherwise be seen ie Balkans, Egypt, Latin America etc
  • Also to aid in increasing distribution of British feature films overseas
  • Thurs 14th dec minutes mentions Films of Britain booklets - Primrose asks that budget be increased from £40 to £55 due "to extra pages". Stills from films to be included to increase the "propaganda value of the booklet".
  • Film on Scotland's War Effort to be put into speed-production - could be Western Isles??
  • More scenic films of British Countryside requested, as well as shipbuilding etc. Most likely seed of Little Ships etc

  • 29th Feb 1940 meeting on 15 feb Lord Lloyd had suggested entirety of BCs film responsibilities be transferred to the MOI.
  • Letter dated 24 April 1940 to Guedalla from Geoffrey Shakespeare states "we cannot pretend we are not at war" and "America may not appreciate the magnitude of our efforts or understand the issues of the conflict, but we must, by direct propaganda, show America what we are doing and how the whole nation is engaged in this life and death struggle.
  • Suggestion that World Garden might have been filmed in b&w due to time of year meaning most trees & flowers were "past their zenith" and that an 'Autumn in Britain' film was preferable.
  • Lots of minutes of films going into production
  • Morning Paper had "too much war in it and not enough newspaper".
  • 6th May 1941 a "woollens film" suggested - could be Western Isles/Border Weave perhaps?
  • 26th May letter suggesting a film on Blood Transfusion be made - Rotha apparently had already written a very good script.
  • 12 May 1941 more geography & human settlement based films requested. Market Town already requested and suggestion this could be the first in a series. "Highland or Upland Settlement" (Derbyshire Village), "Seaside Settlement" (Coastal Village?) and "The Village in the Fertile Valley" (Lowland Village?) proposed.
  • Lifecycle films discussed. Maize film to be made to especially distribution in S America. Mould because it is everywhere...
  • 6th May 1941 woollens film approved & to be called "Close Knit" shot in Technicolor.
  • 26th May confirms "Western Isle" but no mention if it's linked to Close Knit.
  • 9th June 1941 A1 at Lloyds "considered disappointing". Also receiving voluntarily submitted treatments for films, hopping to be made with BC money.
  • 8 July 1941 film dept praised for high standard of Films of Britain 1941 booklet.
  • Films such as Rabbit, Lowland/Upland Settlement were pout on hold pending success of other films in series.
  • 22 July 1941 Green Girdle to to have new English commentary. Power to Order & Colour In Clay approved.
  • 20th Aug 1941 Border Weave approved (made in co-op with Scottish Woollen Export Council)
  • As films were being made in multiple languages, it was decided to dispense with "the end" title card and simply show the BC crest.
  • 28 October 1941 "English Inns", "Song of the Clyde", "Western Isles", "World Garden" accepted. "The People's Land" (film on National Trust) needed new commentary by 'more verily commentator'.
  • 19 Nov 1941 Mr Horace Shepard writes to Council claiming his company's treatment's continual rejection by the BC is commercial prejudice. Council say films too war-based & sent over to MOI. After they reject him, he simply resubmits to Council. It is decided his films are simple not good enough quality for the council.
  • Western Isles & Song of the Clyde required further funding due to severe bad rather that hindered filming. Approved for Western Isles but not for Song of the Clyde.
  • 17th Feb 1942 suggested a producer be employed to oversea productions on behalf of BC ensure films don't deviate/change too much during production as too often films seen at rough cut stage are unsatisfactory.
  • 6th March 1942 "Good Value" "Trinity House" "Teeth of Steel" approved.
  • Colour Council crest to be altered in design.
  • 7th April "Merchant Navy" in production.
  • Education films ie Newt etc for overseas were considered for educational purposes within Britain.
  • 18th May 1942 education films becoming more and more valued. Suggested that teaching pamphlets be produced alongside them.
  • 14 October 1942 Films in production/shot/editing:
Town Planning
Mechanisation of Agriculture (colour)
Piccadilly Roundabout
London in 1942
London Terminus
St Paul's Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral
Holyrood House and Edinburgh Castle
Men of Science (colour)
Boat Building
The Onion
The Rabbit
Indian Ocean (colour)
Seaside Settlement
Lowland Settlement
Invention of the Steam Engine
Development of the Steam Engine
The Steam Turbine
History of the English Language
George and Margaret (part 1)

Completed but not distributed:
Teeth of Steel (colour)
Power to Order
English Inns
Pacific (colour)

  • 8th Jan 1943 "British News" new titles & end title for BC films viewed & approved.
Boatbuilding, St Paul's, London Terminus, London 1942 & Pin Mould all approved.
St Paul's only approved subject to "Kitchener" poster being deleted -??

  • 9th June 1943 Miss Munro of MOI Middle East Section says the MOI & BC should work in close co-op- expulsion of the Axis from Africa has left apathy & should now show advantages peace can bring rather than war effort. High levels of wanting to learn English, for which the Council would be suitable.
  • 7th September difficulty with producer of Canterbury film - refused to do what film dept asked of him. They decide to let him do what he wants and then when all material handed over, reedit the film to meet BC needs. [See Message from Canterbury].
  • 16th Sept MOI asked Council to make series of medical films for liberated countries to teach sanitation & hygiene. Council reluctant as their duty was to make films to raise prestige of Britain overseas "and not merely to produce films that might be useful for some specific purpose". MOI would, however, fund the films, but still Council couldn't see why MOI couldn't just make the films. Council was in unique position though as it had access to distinguished medical advisors. In the end, emergency films for liberated countries was rejected, but films related to things such as infection were to be added to 1944-45 rostra.