Cat no. 226532

British Cinema History Research Project Oral Histories: Manny Yospa (cameraman/focus puller)


Manny Yospa (20 April 1918 - 21 January 2002)
Interviewed by Charles Drazin

Manny Yospa entered the film industry as a teenager through his connection with the Young Communists League and the Worker’s Film Association run by ‘Alderman’ Joe Reeves from Wardour Street in around 1938. He joined the ACT as a cameraman, having filmed footage of various Co-Operative film society fetes and similar events. During the war he worked at Welwyn Studios on MOI shorts and trailers, including the ‘Food Flashes’. The first feature film he worked on was 'Thursday’s Child' (1943). Yospa also worked at Welwyn on 'Halfway House' (1944) and 'Man from Morocco' (1945). He moved to the Gainsborough studios at Islington under Betty Box, working on films such as the Huggetts series, 'Miranda' (1948) and 'When the Bough Breaks' (1947). After Gainsborough closed, Yospa worked for various companies, including the Film Producers’ Guild at Merton Park, Rank and various others. Productions he was involved in include a travelogue of Egypt, 'Stryker of the Yard' (1953), 'The Bulldog Breed' (1960), 'In the Doghouse' (1961), as well as television series such as 'The Return of Martin Kane' (1957), 'Danger Man' (1960), 'William Tell' (1958), 'The Invisible Man' (1958). During the late 1960s Yospa got a contract to film stories in Britain for an East German (GDR) newsreel company, and later he became involved in selling film-stock and equipment for the East German ORWO company.

In this interview, Yospa talks in detail to Charles Drazin about his career in film. He discusses the personalities and productions he worked with, giving a good account of the political film movements of the 1930s and the working atmosphere at Islington in the mid 1940s. He is particularly interesting on working relations between different departments - the sound and camera departments for instance, and on the relations between the ACT, NATKE and the ETU. Yospa is also particularly strong on technical matters - he talks briefly about the implications of the introduction of Panchromatic film stock, about Rank’s Independent Frame process and about experiments with different colour processes at Gainsborough. He gives a detailed comparison of different makes of camera, and what their strengths and weaknesses were, including the Arriflex, the Vinten, the Mitchell and a camera made by Turnward and Newell [?] of Norwich. Involved in Union activity throughout his career, he also gives a very interesting account of ACT negotiations, and the role that the labs often played in disputes with producers who had defaulted on wage payments.