Cat no. 226521

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Alf Tunwell (newsreel cameraman)


Alf Tunwell
Interviewed by Ralph Bond.

Alf Tunwell entered the film industry as an office boy at the Warwick Trading Company before moving into their camera department. His first experience as a cameraman came in 1912 when he had the opportunity to film the Grand National at Aintree. In 1913 Tunwell took a job at the Pathe Freres laboratory, before joining GB Samuelson at Worton Hall Studios. He returned to newsreel photography in 1929 at the newly formed British Movietone News, and during WWII he joined the Canadian Army where he trained cameramen. Tunwell took a job as chief cameraman at Metro News after the war.

In this short and fascinating interview with Ralph Bond, Tunwell offers a fascinating insight into the life of a newsreel cameraman. Specialising particularly in sports filming, he explains how good cameraman must be able to sense when to start the film rolling in anticipation of a goal or a wicket as it was impossible to shoot the play from start to finish. He also offers interesting details about equipment and working culture, and remains optimistic about the future of newsreel in cinema programs, stating his belief that it would always exist.