Paul Donachie Assoc BSC, ACO.
“Be My Baby” by The Ronettes was why I joined the wonderful world we call the film industry.
A double cut/edit to the beat of a song at the beginning of the film “Mean Streets” by Martin Scorsese captivated me. 1977, fifteen years old and wondering what the hell I am going to do with the rest of my life and this film answered the question. Why not, someone has to make the films, right?
O and A Levels done, so up to London and find a Yellow Pages phone directory, I’m looking for film companies, there were at least one hundred to write to. Only one interview came and I didn’t get the assistant editor job but, did get the runners job, or as my boss John Mackey BSC from Abacus Productions, Covent Garden more correctly described my new elevated position, “The Tea Boy”.
Abacus had it’s own cutting room, stage, electrical dept, prop dept, projection room, matte painting room, camera dept and of course kitchen, where I spent some time. A myriad of learning opportunities in front of me, I learned every corner of the film making process and met some greats of the industry. I looked after Freddie Young’s spot meter (and his cigarettes), I pulled Chic Waterson off an Elemack Dolly while not concentrating on a track, got a sideways look or two, from Billy Williams, Robin Vidgeon taught me how to lace the Panaflex, Chic Anstiss taught me when to shut up, Ted Deason taught me to never let the film magazine run out (when it ran out), I taught one of the first female clapper loaders how to load a Mitchell magazine in reverse. The list goes on but thousands of tea cups later the experience and training still stays with me today.
1985 and the freelance world is waiting for me, or not. Armed with my new ACTT union card I was officially a Clapper Loader allowed to work on anything I wanted. I did work, mainly on TV commercials at first, which were actually quite lucrative. The industry provided me with free travel, commercials were made in places like Turkey, Spain and Italy, it was great. Documentaries about things like Formula One motor racing got me more travel, all over the world. I met a BSC member who owned a gold Rolls Royce on a TV program for the BBC, I put red tape on the ground so the great actor George Cole knew where to stand while making us laugh, I watched a horse gallop through Trafalgar square with an American movie star on its back. The industry is fun, especially when you’re young.
The rest is history, and of course can be found on IMDB.