Archive for August 2011
This is a continuation of a discussion between Robert J.E. Simpson and Sam Sherman regarding Hammer Films and “The Abominable Snowman of the Himalayas”.
Sam Sherman has been actively involved in all aspects of film production and distribution for over 50 years, and is an encyclopedia of film knowledge.
Robert J.E. Simpson is from Northern Ireland and is working on a PhD which will lead into one or two books about Hammer Films/Exclusive Films. His PhD twitter feed is at www.twitter.com/exclusivephd, and there is a website which will be updated soon at www.exclusivefilms.co.uk.
Thanks for that. Completely fascinating. I’ve never looked at the extant Hammer files on Snowman, so this is very intriguing reading.
I’m well aware that Hammer’s corporate dealings are a minefield. Even worse when you consider how much of the paperwork was discarded (I think we’ve talked about that before). I see a note on my files from Hammer regarding IIP’s stake, but many companies have a stake in Hammer product so that’s not particularly surprising.
Just had a browse through some of my Hammer books here. The authorised history THE HAMMER STORY certainly mentions Buzz as Lippert’s uncredited production company as part of the last in the Hammer/Lippert co-production deals.
I’m not disputing Clarion was a slightly different set-up to Hammer, but it was part of the Hammer group of companies. I’ve got paperwork relating to that.
According to my records here, Intercontinental certainly contracted Tucker, but it was Exclusive that contracted the producer and script, and Hammer Film Productions Ltd the rest of the cast (including Cushing), and the studio facilities. Obviously there’s more, and I see yet more mention of the litigation (as I say, first time I’ve ever looked at that dispute), but Hammer were most certainly involved. And Hammer’s name was heavily featured on contemporary advertising for the film, and the onscreen credits.
Below is Sam’s response.
Re: THE ABOMINABLE SNOWMAN OF THE HIMALAYAS (herein AS)
Please forward this information as required.
As a party to this project I have all of the legal paperwork and documents supporting the background of this film..
Clarion Films Ltd. was mainly owned by James Carreras and had a different corporate incorporation and legal setup than Hammer Film Productions Ltd.
AS was a co-production of Buzz Productions Inc. (the main producers) (as owned by
Robert Lippert, William Pizor and Irwin Pizor) and Clarion Films Ltd. 20th Century Fox was the sole distributor of the film world-wide, excluding UK and Japan. Note- the film was partially financed on the British end by the Eady plan.
Irwin Pizor acquired the Lippert interests and inherited his father (William Pizor’s ) interests. My company, Independent-International Pictures Corp., acquired all of the Buzz interests from my business partner Irwin Pizor. AS is not a Hammer Production and is setup differently than any Hammer film in such regards.
Hammer claimed to have acquired the Clarion interests to this film and in settlement of certain disagreements amongst Hammer, Fox and Buzz, Fox agreed to discontinue world distribution of this film (excluding UK and Japan.) In further settlement of such, my company acquired all world rights to this film, which it currently owns, with the exception of UK, Japan and US/Canada.
The film was unsuccessful when first released and considered a failure. When we took over the Buzz interests the film was heavily in the red. Since acquiring the Buzz interests we were helpful in promoting the film as a quality product and such production is now no longer in the red.
In my opinion AS is a fine production and one of the better such films Carreras and his companies were involved with.
James Carreras was a longtime friend and business associate of William Pizor and Irwin Pizor who were very important in the international film business and brought him in touch with Robert Lippert through distributing Lippert films in the UK and setting up a number of British coproduction’s between Carreras and Lippert.
My fascination with films began with the Pincushion Man.
When I was young, everyone watched movies in the theatre or on television. That’s it…no DVD, Cable TV, Satellite, and YouTube; in fact, no digital anything. Home movie enthusiasts watched home movies on 8mm (16mm if they were lucky) and that’s about it. Then, as now, there was a big demand for movies at educational institutions, and all kinds of organizations and institutions. That need was fulfilled by 16mm film, and distribution of them was a good sized business from the 1920’s to the late 1970s. A portable 16mm projector, screen and, of course, a film was all that was required. It was a hassle, but that’s how it was done. The AV guys who ran the projectors had the same appearance and personality of computer nerds today. Film buffs remember them, but most young people won’t know what I’m talking about,
8mm was the primary format used for home movies, and my father shot a lot of them. To augment family films he showed ten minute silent versions of sound movies, mostly cartoons, which were sold in photo shops under the Castle Films label. One was The Pincushion Man, a re-title of Balloon Land (Ub Iwerks, 1935); it mesmerized me with its bizarre characters and surreal color (Cinecolor, a two color process). Dad had two others, Little Black Sambo and Sinbad the Sailor, also 1935 Cinecolor cartoons from Ub Iwerks, but to me there was Pincushion Man and then all others.
That was the origin of my interest in films. The next year I went to the movies and saw a feature film compilation of silent comedies, Robert Youngson’s The Golden Age of Comedy (1957). It was, and is, terrific. (I can’t believe it still isn’t out on DVD.) [*]
Soon after, I began collecting my own Castle Films, “dirty dupes” from Home Movie Wonderland, and eventually switching to Blackhawk Films. Blackhawk was the best; silent comedies, and the be-all-end-all of comedy, Laurel and Hardy. Then I got interested in the physical prints as well as content. My first Kit Parker Films “catalog” (three pages) offered 8mm movies for sale. I think I was 11, and my inventory came from offbeat mail order catalogs. At 13, I began borrowing 16mm public relations films produced by oil companies, railroads, and other corporations which offered them free to organizations through a distributor called Modern Talking Picture Service. They had film exchanges throughout the country, and offered countless numbers of films on the behalf of a corporate clients. By and large, they were well produced and entertaining. I told Modern there were several resorts where I lived that were interested in showing those types of films. The sources of entertainment were very, very limited in those days in semi-rural areas like Carmel Valley, California, where I grew up. Modern, who was paid by the sponsors every time a film was shown, asked me if I would sub-distribute for them. My folks took me to their San Francisco office, and when they saw me, they were stunned and amused by my age. They looked at each other wondering what they got themselves into. I got the films, though!
At 14 I started a weekly kiddie matinee at the local community center which showed a feature, short subjects and sometimes a serial, every Saturday at the local community center. Tickets sold for $.35 and it was a big success. Over the next four years, I ordered the films (the best part), ran the projector and bought the candy. The profits went to maintenance of the building.
By 14 my collecting was 100% 16mm…I bought and sold prints. As my collecting continued I also began shooting my own movies with a Bolex camera my folks gave me one Christmas. Although I never really had an interest in shooting movies, the news anchor, Mike Morisoli, at KSBW-TV (stood for “Salad Bowl of the World”!) in Salinas, California, had faith in me and provided unexposed film to cover events such as rodeos and car racing. Back then news stories were all filmed, and my footage ended up on the 6 O’clock News…way cool for a 16-year-old.
At 18, KSBW Program Director, Dwight Wheeler, hired me as the weekend film editor. In those days television broadcast only network shows, live programming (mostly the News) and lots and lots of film…no video tape. There were racks and racks of TV shows at the station, and even more feature films! At one time or another they had, MGM, Columbia, Universal, Warner Bros. and United Artists. The best distributor was NTA…they had 20th Century-Fox and Republic Pictures. Syndicated TV shows ranged from Sergeant Preston of the Yukon to Gilligan’s Island.
My job was to assemble the filmed programs and add the commercials. I had to find the best spots to insert commercials into feature films, and sometimes editing them down to fit into specific time slots. Everything had to be timed right down to the second. I learned fast because of my film experience, so soon after had lots of spare time which allowed me to study how the technical directors worked. A “TD,” as they were known, sat at a large console full of switches and buttons, like you’d see today at a recording studio. They pushed the buttons and moved levers at the correct time to assure everything went on the air at precisely the right moment. Today only live programming still uses a TD; everything else has long been computerized. During half-hour news program there could easily be scores of decisions and manipulations; most had to be anticipated five seconds ahead of the actual event. On the weekends when only the TD and I were at the station, they would teach me how to do the job. I was a fast learner and had quick reflexes, at least in those days! When one of the TD’s quit, the others recommended to the Chief Engineer that I take his place, and I went from the film room to the control room. I became akin to a super projectionist…and had a ball. A few months later I was the TD in charge of all of the prime time programming.
1967 the Viet Nam war was raging, and young men were being readily drafted. I didn’t want to end up in a jungle shooting people, so joined the Navy Reserve, and ended up on the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise. It was a small city with over 5,000 officers and men. Logically, they put me in charge of the ship’s entertainment television and radio stations; illogically they moved me into the Public Affairs Office for the duration where I worked on the daily newspaper, gave tours of the ship, and mostly shuffled papers. Morale on the ship was poor; I think our Captain idolized Captain Bligh, and my Chief Petty Officer was never happy because flogging was outlawed.
Fortunately I had enough free time to work on creating my passion, Kit Parker Films.
OF PART ONE
[*] Not to be confused with other productions on DVD with the same name.
Cool book about Castle Films:
Kit @Kit Parker.com
Sorry, I do not profess to be an expert on copyright law! But those interested in the intricacies of it may find the below of interest.
Fifty years ago producer Adrian Weiss commissioned an opinion from renowned copyright and trademark attorney, E. Fulton Brylawski, principally regarding what constitutes “publication” in copyright law. The following is a slight abridgement of the letter, the original of which I donated to the Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences:
Mr. Brylawski opines:
In the case of Jewelers Mercantile Agency v. Jewelers Publishing Company, decided by a New York state court (1892) it was held that the leasing of copies of a book to subscribers was a publication, even though the lessor never parted with the title to the work and the lessee agreed to return the copy after the expiration of the term for which it had been leased.
Motion pictures are almost never sold or placed on sale and it is doubtful that they are “publicly distributed,” but it is generally believed that the leasing of prints of motion pictures to exhibitors for theatrical showing, constitutes a publication of the pictures under the decision referred to, but the question has never been squarely decided that motion pictures are actually published by this method of distribution. [Keep in mine that this letter was written before the advent of home video]
While I feel that there can be no real doubt on this point, it does not necessarily follow that because a motion picture may be in the public domain, anyone may freely copy and exhibit or distribute copies of the film.”
Anyone who may have lawfully acquired title to any print of the pictures, may use same in any manner he chooses, but a person who obtains temporary possession of any property for one purpose and who converts same to his own use by using it for a different purpose than that for which possession had been temporarily parted with, can be restrained and would be liable to damages for the conversion.
In view of the fact that no one, other than yourselves, has any prints or negatives of these pictures [The “Chuckleheads” TV series]*, there cold be no danger of competition from outside sources.” Perhaps my reference to one being in “lawful possession” of a print of one of your old pictures was ambiguous.
If one had a print which had been sold, the purchaser would have lawful possession. If a laboratory had liens on prints and they were sold to satisfy the liens, the purchaser at such a sole would have lawful possession. [Could make copies if the film is in the public domain.]
If a print was parted with for screening purposes or for exhibition or telecasting, the possession of such a print would be a lawful one, but the making of a copy would be an unlawful use, for which the offender would be liable.”
The exhibition of the picture is not a publication and an unpublished motion picture may be freely exhibited without changing its status as an unpublished work. If the picture was not published, it is unimportant whether or not it had a notice of copyright, as this notice is only required in the case of published works.
Publication of a motion picture occurs when copies are sold or leased to theatres for the purpose of exhibition. It is the leasing which constituted publication – not the exhibitions of the film.
The copyright law does not define what constitutes publication. It merely states that the date of publication shall be the earliest date when copies were placed on sale, sold or publicly distributed. The production of a play on the stage is not a publication of the play and exhibitions of motion pictures on the screens is similarly not a publication of the pictures.
[*] “Chuckleheads” is a series of 150 five-minute shorts edited from Weiss Bros. Artclass Pictures comedies, with added music and sound effects