Pre-1920’s EARLY AFRICAN MOVIES PART 3: CAMERA TROUBLES
Making a motion picture on location has its own troubles. Weather doesn’t always cooperate for one and when Schomburgk’s crew tried to film at Mangu, the dry heat played havoc with the cameras, cracking the wood. Cameraman James Hodgson and Producer/Director Schomburgk worked every evening to repair the day’s damage. Sealing wax was used to fill the cracks in the wood. First it was pressed in, then “smoothed down with hot knives and covered with sticky tape.”
The crew had only brought two “cinema cameras” along and three “ordinary” cameras and “the woodwork of one of these had got so badly warped by the heat on the road up as to interfere with the working of the mechanism, rendering it utterly useless.”
Since there was no other motion picture camera to be had outside of Europe, that last working camera was babied daily. They hired one African worker to continually “rub it over with palm-oil.”
Meg Gehrts wrote about her experience in a rare book: A CAMERA ACTRESS IN THE WILDS OF TOGOLAND.
quotes taken from M. Gehrts’ A Camera Actress In The Wilds Of Togoland
NEXT WEEK: More early motion picture lore.
NOTE: These blogs are meant to give some insight into the life and times of my fictional character, Jade del Cameron. Jade’s mystery adventures take place in post WWI Africa. To date they are: Mark of the Lion, Stalking Ivory, and The Serpent’s Daughter, and The Leopard’s Prey, all available in trade paperback. TREASURE OF THE GOLDEN CHEETAH is available in hardcover. An excerpt and information on pre-ordering signed copies is available at the website: www.suzannearruda.com. Follow short updates on http://twitter.com/SuzanneArruda