AUDI "Curvas" Tribute to PETER ALLWORK from Jorge Molina Lamothe on Vimeo.
Director Creativo: Marçal Moliné
Director de Arte: Albert Just
Realizador: Jorge Molina Lamothe
Aerial Cameraman: Peter Allwork
Una de las compensaciones que tiene esta profesión tan hermosa es encontrarnos por el camino con personas como Peter Allwork.
Peter Allwork Tribute
Cameraman, Chairman and pioneer of Aerial
PETER ALLWORK, who died on Friday July 30 2004 aged 76.
A highly renowned aerial cameraman was the founder of Aerial Camera Systems Ltd (ACS), one of the world’s leading suppliers of specialised facilities in broadcast television and feature film production.
During his distinguished career spanning over sixty years, including some sixty plus feature films and some of the finest commercials, Peter has worked with some of the world’s greatest directors, Alfred Hitchcock, Orson Welles, Steven Spielberg, Ridley Scott, Richard Attenborough, Sydney Pollack and Clint Eastwood to name but a few and was a pioneer of Aerial Cinematography.
Peter Leslie Allwork was born on December 26 1928 in Norwood Green near Uxbridge, the son of William and mother Josephine, Peter had five brother’s and one sister.
Peter began his career working for a year as an office boy at Denham Film Studios, before joining Leslie Howard’s Misbourne Productions also based at Denham. In his new position as a runner Peter fetched tea for director David Lean who was working on In Which We Serve and was given the opportunity to do the clapperboard for the first time. On Laurence Olivier's Henry V Peter first worked with the 3 Strip Technicolor camera, which meant having to load three films in at the same time instead of just one.
When promoted to the position of first assistant cameraman, focus puller, on The Way Ahead, Peter had his first introduction to flying with a flight in a Miles Master II trainer with the actor David Tomlinson. who was a Flight Lt. in the RAF at the time.
Whilst doing his National Service, Peter was a member of the 120th Field Regiment Royal Artillery and posted to Northumberland, however when his camera skills were discovered he was swiftly moved to Wembley to the AKS, the Army Kinematograph Service where he was in the company of the most eminent cameramen in the country, Freddie Young, Freddie Francis, John Willcox, and Norman Warwick etc.
Completing his National Service Peter flew to Canada to shoot aerial scenes and background shots over snow covered mountains for the film No Highway. After sleepless nights worrying that that camera was going to freeze up mid shot, Peter had well and truly caught the flying and filming bug and the results were magnificent! Peter married Frances Desbrow in 1958, having met her the previous year.
He then went on to work on a string of successful films with the Boulting Brothers and got his first camera operating break in the late sixties on the Boulting’s I'm Alright Jack, starring Peter Sellers. Josephine and Men and The Magic Christian followed, and it was when The Magic Christian was coming to an end that Peter Sellers arranged a meeting for Peter with a friend of his, Capt. Fred Barker, a meeting that was to shape Peter's future.
British Executive Aviation Services based at Kidlington Airport or B.E.A.S. Motion Picture and TV division as it came to be known, was the result of that meeting and it was at that this time that Peter also began using the Tyler Helicopter Camera Mounts, after meeting Nelson Tyler in Hollywood. B.E.A.S. first big assignment was the BBC series Bird's Eye View Of Great Britain, which Peter shot with pilot Peter Pekowski.
Feature films soon followed, Frenzy, Juggernaut and The Red Baron, notable for it's dramatic air to air combat, something of which Peter became a specialist earning himself a BAFTA award nomination for the magnificent aerial battle scenes in Aces High in 1976.
Following B.E.A.S., Peter formed Air Film Services at High Wycombe with Prince Andrew Von Preusen. Air Film Services quickly became second to none and in January 1979 producer John Dark asked Peter to film the aerial sequences for The Land That Time Forgot, but this time high over the mountains by Loch A'an in Scotland disaster struck with a tail rotor problem, causing the helicopter to crash into the frozen surface of the lake. Surviving the crash but missing for twelve hours and frozen to the core, Peter and the pilot Capt. John Poland were thankfully rescued by helicopter by the RAF.
Later that year, Peter was soon to take to the air again and it was also at this time that Peter decided it was time to go it alone in business and Peter Allwork Ltd, Aerial Camera Systems (ACS) based at Fairoaks Airport in Chobham Surrey was born. Out of Fairoaks Peter undertook the aerial filming for many major feature films including Superman, filming Superman’s exciting high speed flying sequences using a nose mount in a Lear Jet with pilot Clay Lacy, James .
Bond’s For Your Eye’s Only, Never Say Never Again, A View to a Kill and High Road to China amongst many others
In-between features Peter worked on countless commercials, the most memorable being the dramatic Lloyds Bank Black horse commercial featuring the beautiful Black stallion running through the surf.
A consummate professional, ceaselessly enthusiastic, Peter, forever the innovator, had in the early days slung the camera beneath the helicopter on bungees, hand held the camera on horseback, over jumps and he was no rider! He not only filmed from Helicopter’s but also Airship’s, fixed wing aircraft including Lear Jet’s and military aircraft. He operated the Continental mount, Wescam, Gyrons, and Astrovision system, a periscope system Peter had been instrumental in the development of, after he had seen a periscope used on a VC10 to check the underside of it’s wings.
It was on the James Bond film A View to a Kill that Peter's son Matthew joined him as a clapper/loader and whilst still at Fairoaks, Peter flew out to Kenya to work on Out of Africa for three months, joined by Matthew, shooting the opening titles and aerial sequences, for a film that has become Peter's defining moment with the most beautiful and memorable flying sequence with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep hand in hand whilst flying their yellow Gypsy Moth over a flamingo covered lake.
Aerial Camera Systems then moved from Fairoaks to Shepperton Studios, where the company was now very much a family business with Peter, Frances, Matthew and Sam all working together and while the company diversified into televised sport when Matthew took over as managing director, Peter continued work on an array of features such as Good Morning, Vietnam, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, White Hunter Black Heart (see photo above with Clint Eastwood), Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Mel Gibson Braveheart which saw Peter return to Loch A’an and Seven Years in Tibet with it’s classic six minute pull away from Brad Pitt perched on a mountain top accompanying the closing titles.
On March 26 2003, Peter’s son Matthew aged 39, died in a helicopter accident whilst filming the Dubai Endurance Horse Race in the United Arab Emirates. Matthew, a highly renowned aerial cameraman and an operator of gyro-stabilised camera systems at major sporting events around the world, had taken over the running of Aerial Camera Systems (ACS) from Peter in 1990.
Even after retiring from aerial filming itself and with the company moving to Godalming, Peter kept an office at Shepperton Studios and when not involved in consulting on ACS’s feature film projects has been developing the feature film Wings of Angels based on the life of Amy Johnson.
Peter had tremendous and infectious sense of humour and even in the most difficult of times would always manage a laugh. He has inspired and freely shared his wisdom with many others as an active member of the British Society of Cinematographers, BAFTA and more recently as a Honorary Member of the BKSTS.
Peter’s legacy will forever be associated with some of the most memorable moving images from some of the greatest films of all time. A pioneer, whose work is respected the world over and the Godfather of Aerial cinematography.
Peter recently became a Roman Catholic and his funeral was held with a full requiem mass on Tuesday August 10th at The Church of the Holy Name, Esher.
In 1958 Peter Allwork married Frances. She survives him with their daughter Samantha.