It has occurred to me that this year I have been with the club for forty years.(And it don't seem a day too much.) I had for some years, every so often, saw references to The Hemel Hempstead Cine Society as we were then known, in The Hemel Hempstead Gazette.
I had, as a child been fascinated by films and would regularly frequent the cinemas in Holloway Road. Possibly before I even went to school. Cinema visits continued when I moved to Hemel Hempstead.
My first projector was a toy. It showed still films. It was called Cineflash. I even at a later date tried animation. This was done on sheets of paper. I also tried making still films and with a pin, scratched drawings on see through material that in turn could be viewed either by my now broken down souped up cineflash or with a battery torch. I shall not bore you with every little detail of my attempted film activities. Although some friends of mine who were twins had a toy still projector. The film was a continuous loop. The projector had something to do with the schoolboy's comic strip paper, The Eagle. Films specially for this projector were, if I recall, either of Jeff Arnold, a popular western hero and of course the inevitable Dan Dare, Pilot Of The Future. I can recall we rigged up a crude screen in a stable/barn where I lived, and watched Dan Dare in glorious black and white. Another boy watched as well.
I was in my teens when I acquired my first cine camera, a Kodak Brownie standard eight. This was in 1961. Over a period of years I could be regularly seen with my cine camera somewhere in the area. As the 1960's progressed I found myself involved in live music and started also to develop a social life. I still remained the most dullest boring person you could wish to meet. However, things did subside and I eventually found myself becoming even more, the most dullest boring person you could wish to meet. I badly needed something to get me out of a rut. And so I joined the Hemel Hempstead Cine Society, who at the time was getting good publicity in the local press.
At the time the club was based at its longest venue, Gadebridge Hall. The night I joined, the meeting was to be about lighting by D.W. Percy if my memory serves me correct. But for some strange reason, it turned out to be something else. A lady named Eve Bysouth was a teacher as well as being a member of this club. She was presenting at her school a play about Hansel & Gretel. Someone had made a tiny house out of thin card or thick paper. It was the house of the witch. An image of it was to be projected during the play's performance. Then it would blow away in a puff of smoke. To achieve this effect, the house was attached to a thread which was dexterously moved so that the abode would appear to blow and spin away as mentioned and planned. This obviously had to be filmed in close up.
There was even smoking permitted to add to the effect. I gather when the play was performed, the effect worked.
At the time the club was standard eight orientated. However there was at least one member, Terry Simmonds, who was using super eight. The controversy and rivalry of super and standard eight grew for a few years. David Harrington even made an advert called Standard Eight Is Super. There was one evening when an academic debate took place. David Harrington presented the argument for Standard eight and Trevor Wiseman, the argument for super eight. However, on the night Trevor switched his argument as to whether amateur cine films should have instead progressed more with nine point five. This had some merit. As time passed even further, super eight became more predominant. It was realised it was here to stay when David Harrington changed over.
Oddly speculation and arguments over formats have continued. In fact it is this that prompted Brian Harris to propose that the name of the club should be changed to The Hemel Hempstead Movie Makers. This meant that the now video scene which was taking over super eight could be accepted. As well as anything else that might replace it. And of course it did not matter if the traditional film was made or shown.
Today, we are now more hi tech orientated. DVD is even some ways going back to John Logie Baird. The images may not have been digital, but he did successfully record images on discs. More details are available on the internet as well as some images.
It seems to me, that in some ways we are still the same. It is the details that are different.
© Alan French.