Feature Image: 'Widows Nest' 1977, John pictured with Patricia Neal
14.1.1925 - 18.4.2014
JOHN CABRERA BSC
John Cabrera was born in Liverpool in 1925. His grandparents had emigrated there from Dénia in southern Spain near the end of the nineteenth century and established a fruit importing business.
John became a camera assistant working on 3?strip Technicolor eventually graduating to focus puller. On location in Spain for Laurence Olivier’s Richard III , it is reported that John saw an opportunity to act as a location liaison manager for shoots in Spain given his knowledge of film equipment, the language and his roots. With a surge in Spanish location work, he moved his family to Madrid in 1960.
When Samuel Bronston was preparing a film based on the life of famous naval captain, John Paul Jones in 1958, he was looking for a suitable period setting for a seaport and John, acting as location manager, remembered the small town where his parents and his grandparents had lived, Dénia, and recommended it to Bronston.
When the unit arrived to film, it caused a revolution in this sleepy fishing village, bringing American dollars, Coca Cola to a needy population still suffering the post-war syndrome under the Franco Dictatorship. After that first encounter, many other films used Dénia as a location. In 1965, Jack Hildyard BSC arrived in Spain to shoot The Battle of the Bulge in the Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range just outside of Madrid and John was invited to be second unit cinematographer.
After that John then returned to full time camera work and went on to shoot second unit on films such as Conan the Barbarian and Caravan to Vacarres amongst others, mostly on location in Spain. Later he became main unit DP on many films including Gengis Khan, Paper Tiger, The Man Called Noon and The Call of The Wild. In 1979, with his children grown up, John moved back to Dénia where his parents and his grandparents had originated, to spend the rest of his life.
In December 2013, in recognition of John’s contribution to the city’s fortunes by bringing film companies to their doors, the city presented him with La Medalla de la Ciudad. This is the first time in the history that Denia has ever honoured one of its citizens in this way.
Elected to the Society in 1970.