Sadly Ossie Emery ACS passed away on Sunday Morning, 18th June 2017.
A humanitarian, film-maker and photographer for over 65 years he documented the richness and complexity of human life across a huge range of cultures.
He leaves behind a large legacy of work having filmed on 143 international assignments filming on every continent of the world. In April Ossie held an exhibition ‘From the Edge’ photographic exhibition, held in Exeter a small town in the NSW Southern Highlands, which documented 143 trips to some of the world’s most remote places was testament to his extraordinary “eye” and his capacity to capture the right moment. a collection of over 300 very powerful black and white prints, just a few of the many he’d taken over the years while filming those documentaries.
Ossie and Cynthia have four children Bruce Sue Ross and Liz. Nine grandchildren Rowen, Glynn-Jakeb, Taren, Jonathon, Sionen, Olivia, Ethan, Aiden and Saskia.
After serving an apprenticeship as an Electrical Fitter and while working as an Electrical Draftsman in 1953 Ossie developed his skills as a documentary still photographer.
Photography was his passion and much more friendly then. At that time there was a particular demand by Church organisations to document their work among the homeless, the poor, the sick, abandoned mothers, children ‘before the courts’ and so it goes….
Still photography moved on to short 16mm films and then in 1956 the opportunity that changed his life – an assignment to make a Documentary in four locations in Arnhem Land about the Church of England work among Aborigines. Oenpelli, Roper River, Ross River, Groote Eylandt, all pioneer locations mainly running cattle.
So with a brand new trusty spring-wound Bolex H16 and 30 100ft rolls of Kodachrome Reversal ASA 10 Ossie was launched.
Those were the days when Sydney to Darwin by TAA was a two-day journey with an overnight in Brisbane. He was Director, Cameraman, Editor and with the ‘help’ of Kinelab, making the soundtrack and release prints. It was a success and he was on his way.
Lots of Documentary work followed a contract from Charles Chauvel, again in northern Australia, for waterbirds, crocodiles and buffalos shot for his BBC series ‘Walkabout’.
He had purchased from Cinesound an Arri S 16mm camera, still only 100ft loads.
Two films in Africa, and another in Pakistan and then one in south India followed, all on the same basis. Suggest a script, shoot, edit and finish. Some ABC work and Channel 9 showed the overseas films.
Ossie said he wouldn’t have pulled it off without encouragement and advice from Reg Perier, Stan Murdoch and others. Suddenly he employed an Editor, an Assistant and a Secretary. 2GB Macquarie Newsman, Grahame Bunyan, became their voice and he produced ideas for sales films.
Needing more equipment he was also meeting senior men who were just forming the ACS and he became involved. All the legends; Jack Gardiner, Bert Nicholas, Gordon Lansdowne, Geoff Jackson and many others. He spent years on the Committee and helped write the Constitution and became the ACS Representative on the Industry Committee to advise the Government on the formation of a Film & Television School.
1963, on November 25 Ossie received his letters becoming Ossie Emery ACS, the 5th Accredited member of the ACS.
From a simple beginning, he became Company Director of Pilgrim Films which at its peak had a staff of twenty-eight. Making short dramatic films, animated films and education films for schools. Staff Cameramen like Keith Laxton ACS, Don Clay ACS, Peter Morley ACS, Stewart Mudge and lots of freelance people over the years. Men like Edwin Scragg, Es Giddy, Roger Buckingham, Peter Kyle and new associates with video skills like Stewart Binstead. He always reserved the right to direct and shoot on major productions. The cameras he bought and used ARRI S and ARRI SR, Bolex, Bell & Howell 70DA & DL, Cine Special, Canon Skoopz, Éclair NPR, Éclair ACL.
Video cameras arrived and he went freelance for a couple of years forming the company EVS, financed by the IPEC Federal Hotels group.
He returned to Pilgrim Films to make the benchmark series for the ABC, ‘A Fisherman’s World’, still available at fishingclassics.org.au on DVD and all the World Vision television specials for fifteen years with Don Connelly and Greg Lowe.
There were thirty trips into New Guinea and the Pacific, seventy trips into Africa including nineteen of these into Ethiopia (never in the good times).
The men and women in the industry that he’s worked with along the way; David Whittam, with whom he established an animation unit, and Harold Dews. What great people, what a privilege to have shared his journey with them. His journey was enhanced with some great young co workers; Betty Wood, Maureen Leslie, Lexie Keston, Margaret West, Eva Robey and many others.
Ossie said ”None of this would have been possible without his wife and my family. Beautiful Cynthia has been a stoic rock and weathered alongside me through the many years on the road, abroad and in the studio. She raised our 4 talented children who bring us endless pride and joy. Not to mention our grandchildren and their partners too. Many of you have chosen to embrace a creative life and I hope to have had some small part to play in growing these talents and passions.”
He finished with credits of one kind or another on some 400 docos and TV specials. You don’t believe it, he wasn’t sure that he could either but they tell him it’s correct.
“The things you learn along the way…reconstructive surgery, birth of a baby, starving children in the third world and much more.
You want to know about some of these things – ask some old Documentary Cinematographer.
He’ll tell you. Ossie Emery ACS
Monday, 26 June, 2017
Exeter Memorial Hall,
Exeter Road, Exeter
Family and friends are invited to attend a Memorial Celebration of Ossie’s life.
For those lucky enough to know Ossie you would have heard a yarn or too, he now leaves behind a legacy of filmmakers.. and an enormous body of work here’s just a small glimpse of his journey.