British Universities Film & Video Council

moving image and sound, knowledge and access

David Samuelson (1924-2015)

david samuelsonDavid Samuelson, one of the few surviving British newsreel cameramen, passed away on 28th October at the age of 91. He joined British Movietone News as a projectionist in 1941 progressing through the cutting room to rejoin Movietone as a cameraman, after service with the RAF in 1947. One of his first assignments was as part of the camera crew filming the Royal Wedding in November 1947, shooting alongside one of his mentors, Paul Wyand. In July 1949 Samuelson was one of the Movietone cameramen sent to cover the dock strike, and his footage appeared in British Movietone News No.1049A as ‘Dock Strike – Serious Developments.’ According to the shot list this story begins with shots of ‘newspaper boys shouting out Royal Proclamation – Emergency proclamation, etc. various shots.’ However, the magazine Impact (P. Sheridan ‘British Movietone Choose,’ Impact, Summer 1949, p.15) denounced this as a ‘highly dangerous distortion of news,’ revealing that when Movietone discovered that the newsboys were not shouting about the crisis, ‘cameraman Samuelson manned the breach, grabbed a stack of papers and yelled full into the conveniently placed Movietone camera, ‘Proclamation signed…read all about it!” Samuelson’s expenses form shows that this fake cost 2s 6d in ‘Tip to news boy for loan of papers and pitch.’

David remained with Movietone until 1960 during which time he developed a specialisation in filming sporting fixtures, knowledge he shared in a series of articles for Amateur Cine World on the Derby and the Cup Final. He referred to these sporting events as the ‘hardy annuals’ and the experience honed over these years stood him in good stead when he left the company in 1960 to join his brother Sydney at Samuelson Film Service Ltd, established in 1955. This eventually became the largest film equipment servicing company in the world. Credited with television work for World in Action and Seven Up, it was the BAFTA award-winning documentary, Goal! The World Cup, that displays his superlative camerawork to full effect. He continued to work for the company whilst doing occasional freelance work for Movietone, mainly on Royal events until 1981.

David donated his Movietone assignment sheets (1947-1960) together with his dope sheets and expense claim forms to the BUFVC, along with articles and production manuals, forming part of our special collections.

His colleague, Ron Collins, has written the following tribute to his life and work.

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