Cat no. 226510

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Cyril Pennington-Richards (cameraman)

c.1988

Cyril Pennington-Richards (17 December 1917 - ?)
Interviewed by Alan Lawson

Cyril Pennington-Richards entered the film industry in 1932, working on short advertising films before moving into documentary production. By the end of the decade he had become a lighting cameraman and in 1940 he joined the Crown Film Unit, where he photographed 'Fires Were Started' (1943) among others. After WWII he moved into feature film production, providing cinematography for directors Jack Lee and Pat Jackson, who also had roots in documentary production. In 1953 he made his directorial debit with 'The Oracle'. This was followed by two B-feature crime films in 1957 and episodes of several popular television serials, including 'Ivanhoe' (1958) and 'The Invisible Man' (1958). He directed several film comedies during the 1960s and also made films for the Children’s Film Foundation.

In this interesting and detailed interview with Alan Lawson, Pennington-Richards discusses his first experiences in the film industry as a titler working on advertising shorts. He reveals that his break came with a film shot inside Caterbury Cathedral in 1934, which led him to set up a unit with the Religious Film Society. He also discusses his work with the Crown Film Unit, particularly 'Fires Were Started', giving an account of Humphrey Jennings' visual perfectionism and improvisation techniques. An interesting account of his work on 'White Corridors' is also provided, and he claims the film was shot so rapidly at Pinewood that Arthur Rank was moved to investigate in person. Pennington-Richards also offers a great deal of technical information, particularly regarding the matching of studio and location footage.