James Aspinall was born in West London 1958, his first brush with our industry, age 11 being cast as a young Stephan Dedalus in a BBC adaptation of the, James Joyce novel ‘Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man’. ‘ I was more interested in what was going on behind the camera’
1974 age 16 James left school to join a post production special effects company called Camera Effects Ltd as a runner then trainee/assistant rostrum cameraman this was a time when all effects, from fades and mixes to traveling matte (blue screen) were done manually on optical printers. This was highly skilled work, all made obsolete by the age of computers.
The first time James saw his work on screen was the end title sequence on the Sam Peckinpah movie called ‘Cross Of Iron’ just a series of 2nd world war stills, from an archive; shot on a rostrum and combined with a title roller, one of the stills was a pretty young woman having a noose put round her neck by a German officer, a powerful image. For James it was like the scene in 2001 when the Monkey discovers a Tool!
1978 age 19 having gained experience (and a union ticket!) with Aerial image and rostrum camera’s James got a job on The flying unit of Superman 1 running the projectors for a new and ground breaking front projection system called Zoptic, Small and maneuverable with twin zoom lenses it was a big step in creating convincing flying sequences; The DOP was Denys Coop (one of the unsung heroes of our profession) he along with Zoran Perisic (the inventor) got The Oscar for special effects
James went on to work on Superman 2 & 3
1982 – 1992 he worked as loader then focus puller.
In 1993 he moved into shooting his own materiel on corporate drama, documentaries including Lawrence of Arabia The Battle For The Arab World Directed by James Hawes, Desmond Morris’s Baby Watching, directed by Alan Deakins , over fifty pop promo’s with artists including Donna Summer, Right Said Fred, The Cure, Nick Kamen. And numerous commercials in which he became known for food photography from a series of Marks & Spencer Ads.
In 1998 James’s Break into high end TV came through a very talented Director called Stephen Whitaker whom he had worked with on a corporate drama; as luck would have it James had also worked with the producer Malcolm Craddock
On a 4-month shoot in the Caribbean, and shot some 2nd unit material
It was TV Movie Called ‘Life For a Life’ and starred Olympia Dukakis the rest is History.
James went on to Shoot 14 TV Movies including ‘Doomwatch’ directed by Roy Battersby, ‘Falling’ directed by Tristram Powell, and the ‘Chatterly Affair’ directed by James Hawes.
5 Feature films including ‘The Waiting Room’ and ‘The Time Of Their Lives’
Both directed by Roger Goldby.
Also 28 TV Series including Foyles War, Poirot , and ‘The Durrells’
Derek Suter nominated him to join The BSC about 5 years ago, bit late really.