Christopher Pugsley's new book, The Camera in the Crowd, explores film's early days in New Zealand, from its introduction in the late 1800s, to the role it played in WW1.
“This is the book that I've hoped someone would write.” — Sir Peter Jackson
Film captivated New Zealand when it reached the country in 1895. The Camera in the Crowd brings to life those exhilarating 25 years of filming and picture screening that followed, telling the story through the footage that survives in the archive of Ngā Taonga Sound & Vision, the national film archive.
The Auckland commercial traveller A.H. Whitehouse was the first to show film by Edison’s peepshow Kinetoscope, and was also the first to direct the filming of New Zealand scenes, at the opening of the Auckland Industrial and Mining Exhibition on 1 December 1898. The pair made nine other films, but their output was soon overtaken by the Salvation Army, which by the beginning of the 20th century was the largest film producer in Australasia.
New Zealand developed a small body of professional cameramen to feed the country’s insatiable appetite for film. This book is the history of those cameramen, their work, and the theatre owners such as Hayward’s and Fuller’s who screened the films — viewed through the film that was taken not only at home but also of the Kiwi ‘Diggers’ in the First World War.
It features 350 photographs and illustrations. Uniquely, the book also acts as an entry to moving film.
“Film is made to be seen on screen and this book reflects this by providing stills from the films discussed. Titles of surviving films are also identified by a small projector in the margin that allows you to access the film online and pause and have a look at what you are reading about,” says Dr Puglsey.
To order a copy of The Camera in the Crowd, please visit the Oratia website.