In Memoriam – Reg Lancaster

It was with great sadness that we learned that Reg Lancaster had slipped away peacefully at home on 13th December 2020, with his wife Annabelle and their son Ray at his side.

Reg had spent 44 years as a Fleet Street photographer/photo journalist for the Daily Express that had taken him travelling the globe.  He covered anything and everything; sports events, film sets, celebrities and the news.  He got a thrill from being ‘in the thick of it’ whether snapping a photo of Martin Luther King in London; Mick and Bianca Jagger in Saint-Tropez; racing driver John Surtees at Monza; the riots in Paris as tension built between students and riot police escalating in an exchange missiles or a Soviet tank being wrecked by a group of Czech youths in Prague.

He understood framing, angles, lighting and how to capture that special moment when there was only one chance to get the right shot. No wonder he became such a talented film maker, winning award after award, locally, nationally and internationally.  His talents didn’t stop at film making; he was equally talented as a writer and presenter and an evening in the company of Reg was always worthwhile.

OVFM was privileged to have Reg.  He was one of our longest serving members and spent 40 years on the Committee, 18 of these as Chairman!  That’s commitment.

Looking at the names engraved on the various cups, Reg’s name crops us year after year.  This must have left some members wondering whether they could ever reach his standards and nick some silverware from under his nose, or whether they could bribe him with a ticket to watch his beloved Manchester United football team.

He was a good, fair and honest judge, helping to judge numerous competitions.  He was generous in his willingness to help others as they progressed as filmmakers, giving constructive feedback and providing practical guidance on how to improve.

One OVFM member told me that Reg was the best director they had ever worked under.  He wasn’t satisfied until he had got the right shot.  Some folk didn’t much like having to do ‘take after take’, but others were pleased that he took time to ensure the ‘film was in the can’ as it increased their capabilities and skills as actors; camera operators; lighting operators, sound engineers or in any other capacity.

And then there were all those wonderful journalistic style articles that he wrote in various magazines, some with his touch of humour coming through.

It wasn’t just OVFM that were blessed.  He spent time as the president of the IAC, was heavily involved in UNICA, BIAFF, and festivals worldwide.  His love of travelling never seemed to leave him and many of his wonderfully documented films gave us wonderful glimpses into Countries that we wouldn’t get to visit.

Reg has left us with a wealth of films made over the years, many made with his wife Annabelle, which we will treasure.

We offer our sincere condolences to Annabelle and Ray.  You are in our thoughts and prayers at this difficult time.

 

Jane Oliver, OVFM Chairman

11 comments on In Memoriam – Reg Lancaster

  1. Very sad to learn of the passing of Reg. I always looked up to him and regarded him as the best amateur filmmaker I’ve ever met. In fact his films were more like semi-professional that was how good he was. Reg was fortunate at the time working in France that he was able to buy a Beaulieu Super 8 camera, probably the best Super 8 camera ever and not so easy to get hold of in the UK at the time. Reg made many films with it and the quality of the picture still stands out today with the mega pixel digital camcorders we have now. But more so Reg knew how to frame the shot and put a film together with tight editing. Eventually Reg wanted to upgrade his kit to the next level and entered one of his films in a competition. Unsurprisingly he won and with the prize money Reg was able to buy a 16mm camera and continued making prize winning films with the professional quality you get from 16mm. Reg did move onto video like most people but never lost his appetite for filmmaking. I myself have only been a member of OVFM for the last few years but have seen Reg on many previous occasions at shows and he also visited Shooters Hill society on numerous occasions. Always enjoyed talking to Reg and seeing his films. He will be greatly missed at OVFM and was always on hand to cast his critical eye over other members films even criticizing one of my own films for using a few seconds of BBC News copyright footage, something that doesn’t leave you after working for the Press for so long. RIP Reg, you and your films will never be forgotten.

  2. From Colin Jones:

    Tribute to Reg

    How sad that Reg has gone, the club will certainly not be the same without him!

    My recollection is that Vic Blackman, an early member of our club, and who was also a colleague of Reg’s at the Daily Express, brought him along to one of our meeting where we were screening films from club members.

    We saw then a film which exceeded all our own ones in clarity and camera work – I congratulated Reg at the time on the smoothness of his panning. It was the best I had seen in our club.

    Reg joined the club and soon settled in and quite soon he also joined a reluctant Annabelle to our club.

    In 1977 he was a key cameraman in the film which Bromley Council had asked our club to make of the forthcoming Queen’s 25th anniversary local activities. I had been landed with the job of organising the whole thing and initially Reg was one of the team that I had allocated venues to film. It soon became clear to me that Reg’s contributions were better than most of the others and later when I had the whole thing assembled and a sound track added, it was ready for titles and a commentary.

    The title was entirely Reg’s idea and was handed to me ready for insertion. Both Reg and Annabelle suggested that we ask their neighbour who was from New Zealand to read the commentary, which he did.

    Very soon Reg stood for the chairman’s job and since then he has probably been in that position more than anyone else. In the late 70’s Reg and I both joined the IAC (our governing body) and eventually both became FACI’s (Fellows of the Institute).

    Some years later Reg did his year as President of the IAC and we as a club elected him President of the OVFM for life.

    Reg made a variety of films, but in my opinion his best were his documentaries the most outstanding of which was ‘Remember’ about the devastated French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

    When I wrote the script for Night club it needed special moonlight effect so I asked Reg to take on this job as well as being cameraman. We rigged up our own blue moon shining in through the window and we won the top prize at the Kent Film Festival.

    All of this was in the days of cine and since then video has taken over and the quality of sound and visuals has improved enormously recently.

    It is sad that just as things became much easier, Reg was too ill to take part.

    The club will be all the poorer now that Reg has gone and our sincere sympathies are with Annabelle and Ray.

    Colin Jones

  3. Reg Lancaster FACI

    It is fair to say that with Reg’s passing, OVFM has lost its totem.

    When I joined the club 10 years ago, I was introduced to Reg at the first club meeting I was invited to after working with Chris Coulson and Anna Littler on “Blitz And Bananas” and straight away, I could sense he had that “Club president” aura about him. Maybe it was the firm handshake – which never weakened even when his health worsened – or the way other club members gathered around him during the break like disciples before their saviour as he held court – either way it was clear who the big cheese was in OVFM.

    In my third meeting club, now a fully paid up member, it was the Top 10 and Reg had entered his film “Finnish Foibles”. The first thing that stood out to me about that film was the quality of the camerawork, shot composition, and editing, which didn’t look amateur to me. Apparently, Reg was close to completing the film the night before the meeting but his computer went belly up before he could save it, leaving him with a race against time to finish the edit before the meeting.

    These would be my earliest memories of Reg, and I am both fortunate and proud to say that I was able to count Reg as an ally in OVFM, not just with filmmaking, where he and Annabelle helped on some of my films – including enduring freezing temperatures for my film “Two Little Words” – but in film discussion too. The reason why Reg’s filmmaking looked like it was of a professional standard was because Reg was a film buff, thus had a huge library of influence to draw on.

    When I instigated the idea for the club website to list club members’ favourite films, Reg was the first person I asked to contribute and he submitted an eclectic list comprised of classic Hollywood, modern titles, and a couple of world cinema classics I hadn’t heard of. From this, I knew Reg was the man to talk to about film, and we had many conversations about it, sharing our thoughts and recommendations too.

    If it wasn’t for Reg I would not have seen “The Cranes Are Flying” or “Le Silence de la Mer”, and in return, I gave Reg a copy of “12”, the Russian version of “12 Angry Men”, and “Elvira Madigan”, one of Mike Turner’s pick which Reg hadn’t seen and wanted to know what the fuss was about! As I find it hard to talk to people, it was a joy for me personally to know there was someone in the club that was as passionate about cinema as I was, making it easier for me to endure the tea breaks (before I started bringing books with me).

    No doubt, we all have our own personal memories of Reg, but I also want to talk about what he brought to the club too. As president, having once also been chairman, Reg lead from the front; during Top 10 evenings, Reg would always volunteer to give comments, usually the technical ones as that was his forte; if there was film being made, more often than not Reg would participate; if there was an IAC or other external event, Reg would be there with Annabelle to fly the flag for OVFM.

    Reg’s wealth of knowledge regarding filmmaking was enviable but vital to the club’s success in national and international competitions. I don’t know if Reg was a prodigy in this regard but what he brought to the club was the product of years of experience which he never hesitated to share with the rest of us. And Reg wasn’t shy about getting in front of the camera either. We’ve all seen that promo clip for the OCS (as it was then) where Reg takes a load of custard pies to the face!

    Unfortunately, father time was less appreciative of Reg than we were and in the last few years decided to plague Reg with a number of ailments. Yet, as his body slowed down, Reg still wore a smile on his face and his brain was still firing on all cylinders, as was his commitment to OVFM, showing up to club meetings and film shows despite having been in hospital a few days before.

    This meant Reg had to stop making new films, which I imagine must be like Hank Marvin no longer being able to play guitar. Thankfully, Reg leaves us with an incredible catalogue of films spanning over 50 years we can still learn a lot from on a technical level. I particularly recall one in which Reg was a filmmaker who ended up editing a film with the sound clips in the wrong order, so animals would sound like cars and cars would sound like a brass band.

    But as much as Reg was a great person, filmmaker, and mentor to us rookies, I always looked at Reg and Annabelle as a double act, and it is always sad to see one come to an end. We as a club feel a great loss with Reg’s passing but we must also recognise the larger gap it leaves in Annabelle’s life, and I hope she knows we are all thinking of her and I close this piece by sending Annabelle and their son my deepest condolences.

    R.I.P Reg. Thanks for the films, the wisdom, and the inspiration.

  4. As an outsider, I would like to add my comments to these tributes . Reg was indeed a “giant” in the amateur film world, a great film maker and a really nice friendly bloke. He came to nearly all the Kent Film Festivals and Spring Park Annual shows that I was involved with and when asked to judge was excellent and fair. Spring Park members who knew him will miss him and we send our condolences to Annabel and his family at this sad time.

  5. I was so sorry to hear of Reg’s passing. He was a mainstay of our club and possessed worldly knowledge of all things concerning movie making as well as being genial and helpful. He made the effort to attend our meetings even when his health was in decline.
    We will miss his constructive comments at our competition nights and his sense of humour.
    My condolences to Annabelle and family.

    John Bunce

  6. So sorry to hear this news, he will be sadly missed. Our deepest sympathy to Annabelle

    Kath & Malcolm

  7. Goodbye Reg,

    Reg has always epitomised OVFM to me. He was the one who welcomed me when I joined in 1981. He seemed to run everything. He lugged his huge Super 8 projector to every meeting and painstakingly put it up. In those days we met at St Johns United Reform Church in Lynwood Grove, Orpington, next to a dog training class (we called them the ‘Dog people’).
    Reg was my mentor. He was still working in those days of course (weren’t we all) but despite having a career in still photography he had taken to movies like a duck to water. He showed me what was right and what was wrong with my movies. He was merciless in his criticism. Praise he gave out publicly, more harsh comments privately. He could always spot a jump cut or a flash frame, not so easily avoided in film. He explained the mysteries of crossing the line.
    To be honest I sometimes rued his expertise. He seemed to win the top cups year after year. Sometimes it just didn’t seem worthwhile going in for the Top Ten after seeing his entry. His house has more silver in it than Buckingham Palace.
    And it doesn’t seem right to say he was ably supported by his wife Annabelle, which he was of course. But she is a film-making force in her own right. Someone once said that obviously her films were made by Reg, but it was like a red rag to a bull. She was her own boss. She even had her own camera (s), wrote her own scripts, did her own filming and did her own editing.
    Reg was such great company He had so many anecdotes from a lifetime of mingling with the high and mighty, celebrities of all kinds. And I couldn’t keep with the other clubs he visited, the film competitions he attended or judged, both here and abroad. Wow. He had an international network. And he was our chairman for 11 years.
    The last major project he helped me with was ‘Antigravity’ for which he provided to commentor’s voice in my animated takeoff of ‘Dragon’s Den. We recorded it at his home four or five years ago, but already he was finding a long voice over session a strain. But who forget his singing on my film ‘Grumpy old men of Orpington’?
    Reg has left his mark on the amateur film movement in this country. I think he came to our last meeting way back in February when the world was normal. Despite having severe mobility problems, with Annabelle’s help manage to come along right to the end. He had to give up driving his beloved BMW sometime ago. He will be sorely missed.
    Hugh Darrington

  8. So sad to hear of Reg’s passing. Our thoughts are with Annabelle and their family.
    When we first joined OVFM about 17 years ago there was always friendly banter going on between Reg & Mike Turner, usually about their favourite football teams.
    As all the previous tributes have mentioned, Reg made some brilliant films over the years, he was an excellent judge and very fair in his comments. It always amazed me when we had a Top Ten competition on at club, he would notice things in the films that had completely passed me by, especially about lighting. He well deserved all the awards he won, both at OVFM , and the other national and international competitions.
    It has been very sad seeing the way his health deteriorated over the last few years, but he still maintained his interest in OVFM. Annabelle has done a brilliant job caring for him and making sure they can come to our meetings if at all possible. RIP Reg.

  9. Dear Annabelle, I am so sad to read about Reg’s death. I found a beautiful picture of him as he was during his Paris years, https://www.fleetstreetsfinest.com/artist/reg-lancaster-2/
    exactly how I remember him.
    I still have the beautiful vase you gave me as a wedding present 1979, I think Heather brought it?
    My brother is republishing Bill’s first book “The Balkans by bicycle” first published 1937. And wants to write a small biography about our parents, to be given with the book. That is how I started to look up Reg, if he could help identifying someone Bill was talking to, on a picture Reg most likely took. Only to find out Reg just died. I imagine you wouldn’t know about the man, but how could I send you the picture just in case? And I would be so pleased to hear from you ! Carola Hamsher (now Wastiaux). +33612591480.

  10. We are old, old friends of the Lancasters from the Paris days. We would so much like to speak with Annabelle to express our condolences and to take a trip down memory lane. Please pass this message on to her.

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