H.A.V. Bulleid amateur film maker

Henry Anthony Vaughn Bullied was born in 1912 and raised on the railways, in the shadow of his father, O.V.S. Bulleid, who later served as the Chief Mechanical Engineer of Southern Railway between 1937 and 1948.

It was during Bulleid's education at Ampleforth in North Yorkshire, that he developed a passion for cinema. Selected to assist monks in the operation of a 35mm projector in the school theatre, he also attended the local cinema twice a week and began to make short films aping everything from knockabout comedy to melodramatic tragedy, roping in friends, family and even local clergymen.

Despite his father's desire that he should follow him into railway engineering, Bulleid's passion for film led to a visit to an Elstree Studios producer to investigate career prospects. Informed that his son would have to start at the bottom like everyone else, Oliver Bulleid insisted that he study engineering allowing him to 'do whatever he likes as a hobby'.
Having gained an engineering degree from Pembroke College Cambridge, H.A.V. Bulleid took an apprenticeship at the Derby Works, following his father into a distinguished career on the railways. A cine camera was never far from Bulleid's side, however, and he continued to make films wherever he went, whether at home, working away or on holiday, visiting family or staying with friends.

In 1936, Bulleid began writing a column for Amateur Cine World, initially sharing film-making tips with readers until wartime celluloid shortages forced a switch to writing articles about library films, providing in depth analysis of some of the silent era classics on which he had fed his veracious teenage appetite.

Leading a busy work and social life, Bulleid's filmography contains amateur dramatic shorts filmed in North Yorkshire, Derby, Cambridge, Surrey, Wales, and even a semi-fictionalised travelogue of a car journey to Paris. A connoisseur of home-movie presentations, Bulleid was also a film collector whose donation of 35mm prints to the British Film Institute included a number of unique items.

As well as Bulleid's silent fiction films, EAFA holds a number of test films shot for his column in Amateur Cine World, and the EAFA library holds a full run of Amateur Cine World, as well as copies of his film books, 'Trick Effects with the Cine Camera' (1941) and 'Special Effects in Cinematography' (1954). A prolific author, Bulleid also wrote books about his father and other railway engineers, music boxes and business management. Indeed, as a writer, railway engineer, film historian and amateur filmmaker of exceptional quality, H.A.V. Bulleid holds a unique place in the East Anglian Film Archive collection.

Cat no. 2551

The Step-Father

Running time6:09 Black & White Silent 1930 Ampleforth, North Yorkshire

Made in North Yorkshire, where Bulleid attended Ampleforth College, this early dramatic short relates the tale of a recent widow, her son and two rival suitors, and features appearances from schoolmates (including young Lord Oxford, grandson of former Prime Minister Herbert Henry Asquith) and members of the College clergy, including the recently ordained Reverend Oswald Vanheems.

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Cat no. 9506

Cold Shoulder

Running time11:53 Black & White Silent 1931 Finchley, Greater London

Shot in the Finchley area of north London, this romantic comedy traces the unrequited love of a hapless fool and hopeless romantic, played by Elmer Quane (Bulleid's on-screen pseudonym).

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Cat no. 9518


Running time12:34 Silent 1931 Barnet, Greater London

A talking dog throws the proverbial cat amongst pigeons in a witty satire of high society and low manners, adapted from a short story by 'Saki' (aka Hector Hugo Munro).

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Cat no. 216907

Behind That Smile

Running time1:37:15 Black & White Silent 1932 Cambridgeshire

Typically shot on the 9.5mm small gauge film format and only in his spare time, many of Bulleid’s films average ten to fifteen minutes. This is his only attempt at a feature-length project, and pits cunning British secret servicemen against dastardly Russian agents in a tale of love, lust, lies and intrigue.

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Cat no. 9523

Strictly Confidential

Running time7:05 Black & White Silent 1932

An experimental film in which Bulleid displays a variety of camera effects and trick photography techniques. He would later expand on these and other experiments in a series of articles for Amateur Cine World, followed by two books on the subject.

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Cat no. 226309

Rhythm of Life

Running time2:55 Colour Silent 1932 Derby, East Midlands

Bulleid pays tribute to his dual loves of cinema and rail in an experimental short film which was created using 'metric editing' - the first of Russian director Sergei Eisenstein's 'methods of montage' - in which cuts are dictated by the number and sequence of frames, not what occurs on screen.

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Cat no. 2422


Running time19:27 Silent 1934 Harlech, Gwynedd

A farmhand gets between a girl and her dog in this rural tragedy set in the Welsh countryside, for which Bulleid combines rapid montage and stark landscapes to create a dramatic sense of foreboding.

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Cat no. 9516

Horatio Spink, Detective

Running time8:26 Black & White Silent 1934 Derby, Derbyshire

A short comedy caper, once again featuring Bulleid leading the cast as a hapless - and hopeless - comic foil for whom even the simplest of tasks are fraught with mistakes and misunderstandings.

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Cat no. 9520

Clouds Obscure the Sky

Running time13:25 Silent 1936 Derby, Derbyshire

A tale of blossoming city love, cruelly interrupted by a tragedy in rural Derbyshire.

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Cat no. 2477

Sleeping Draught

Running time14:15 Silent 1936 Derby, Derbyshire

Bulleid uses colour tinting and complex montage in a tale of love and loss set amidst the dreamscape of a young woman.

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Cat no. 9521


Running time14:33 Silent 1938 Dorking, Surrey

An inventive boy creates a 'disappearing device', vapourizing everything in his path in this science fiction comedy.

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Cat no. 212597

Blind Corner

Running time19:24 Colour Silent 1938 Brighton, East Sussex

Perhaps Bullied's best work, this short, told largely in flashback, features a man grieving his late wife and recalling their final, ill-fated holiday, which we experience entirely from his perspective.

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Cat no. 9499


Running time10:33 Colour Silent 1939 Dorking, Surrey

A visual interpretation of the 'free verse' method employed by American poet Amy Lowell, Bulleid brings the splendour and surreality of an English summer to life with beautiful colour cinematography.

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Cat no. 212602

Flicker School

Running time14:17 Black & White Silent 1942 Didsbury, Greater Manchester

Bulleid skips over all the difficult bits in this less than helpful, tongue-in-cheek guide to hosting a film show. As well as displaying Bulleid’s keen sense of modern humour, the film is notable for the appearance of the filmmaker’s own, extensive collection of 35mm nitrate feature films, which were later donated to the BFI National Film & Television Archive and included the sole surviving print of 'The Girl in the Taxi' and the only surviving original-release colour tinted print of D.W. Griffith's 'True Heart Susie'.

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Cat no. 2420

Jacob's Ladder

Running time20:09 Silent 1944 Didsbury, Greater Manchester

Bulleid once again draws together dramatic aplomb and experimental tendencies in this drama of dreams, desires and unrequited love.

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Cat no. 3652


Running time14:46 Black & White Silent 1949 Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Adjudged to be one of Amateur Cine World's 'Ten Best Films of 1949', this short portrays the ruinous effects of alcohol on a young romance.

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Cat no. 9498


Running time14:40 Black & White Silent 1950 Abergavenny, Monmouthshire

Featuring the same central duo as Nemesis, and drawing upon distinctly similar themes, Bulleid moves away from tragedy towards farce, placing a new spin on the classic 'chase' scene in the process.

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