Kelvin Richard BSC: “Journey of discovery”

It hasn’t been an easy ride for new BSC member Kelvin Richard to reach the highest echelons of the craft. He shares his rise through the camera department to date and reflects on joining the Society’s ranks.

Where it all started.

A toy projector for Christmas! The advert in the Littlewoods home order catalogue. There was something special about seeing a tiny moving image being projected on the wall which to me was magical. I was 13 years old.

There was not a lot of money: cardboard inserted to cover the holes in your school shoes type of thing was the reality. We were two families (my mum and my aunt, seven people) in two rented rooms on the top floor of a small, terraced house in ‘60s/’70s Kilburn, London, NW6. My mother, who was working two jobs and raising two boys on her own, me, asking for that toy projector… The sacrifices she must have made to make it happen!

I collected 50ft 8mm reels of film: cartoons, the comedies of Laurel and Hardy, Buster Keaton, Harold Lloyd and horror movies. I would project those, creating a tiny image, onto my kitchen wall, but it would be only a matter of time before I wanted to project something that I had created myself.

Teenage years

I went to the local comprehensive school and kept pestering one of my art teachers if they had a Super 8mm camera. He said: “There is a box of junk in the media recourses centre, there might be an old camera there. If you find one and can get it to work, you can try and use that.”

At the very back of that space I found what was to be my first shooting camera, a Eumig Viennette 2; dirty, neglected, no instruction manual, no batteries – nothing! I was on my own.

I would get local library books on filmmaking and how to shoot Super 8mm. Over the next year I would save my pocket money, birthday and Christmas cash, and buy rolls of Super 8mm film, expose it in the camera and get the results back – with varying degrees of disappointment! Why is some of it out of focus? Shot inside with room lighting, why is it all yellow?

It was a long process of self-learning about minimum focus on zoom lenses and colour temperature, colour correction filters etc., with no one to advise or guide me around my mistakes. The results looked up and tried again on the next roll of film. Lessons learned and expanded on, that I would still use to this day!

Over the next year I would teach myself animation (clay models as well as paper drawing animation) as well as some live action. I would shoot and edit short films and enter them into various 8mm competitions and even win a few awards in the UK and overseas. One of them, Blood Shot Eyes, was even shown on the BBC’s Screen Test programme presented by Michael Rod, as a competition runner-up! A visual interpretation of Dub Reggae music, would you believe.

I knew from the age of 15 that working in the film industry was what I wanted to do.

Looking back now, how single-minded I was, stubborn and naïve in equal measures, just to do the next thing, to get to the next level.

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