You are in the Special Features section - The Baim Collection - offers researchers and programme makers a colourful window on the post-war period - especially the fifties and 'swinging-sixties'  

<b>The Baim Collection - offers researchers and programme makers a colourful window on the post-war period - especially the fifties and 'swinging-sixties'   </b>









Harold Baim was a prolific British film producer, director and writer of 35mm 'quota-quickies' and 'short features.' His early films featured variety acts; his later films were mainly colourful widescreen travelogues filmed in Great Britain, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with commentaries by celebrated actors and broadcasters including Telly Savalas, Nicholas Parsons and Terry Wogan.



Harold Baim



The Baim Collection offers researchers and programme makers a colourful window on the post-war period - especially the fifties and 'swinging-sixties'

Here Digger talks to Richard Jeffs who is the custodian of The Baim Collection.







Digger: What is your background Richard?

Richard: I’m about the same age as ITV, so I grew up in “the media age”!  My parents and grandparents enjoyed radio and we had a one channel (BBC) TV set.  We got ITV and a “dual standard TV” in 1963.  I found TV a great diversion and was fascinated by the technical developments.  News was fascinating; I remember coverage of the Cuban missile crisis, I was watching TV the night President Kennedy was assassinated, I remember the TV coverage of Winston Churchill’s funeral, BBC2 starting, the 1966 World Cup, the introduction of colour, the moon landing, the changes to the ITV franchises.  It wasn’t only news that engaged my attention; as a child in the midlands region I was very loyal to ABC because they brought The Avengers and Emma Peel to the screen and I was fascinated by ATV, a truly exciting international television company with a base in The Midlands. 

I decided I wanted to work in TV and was told “it was not possible” by my career teachers.  In 1970 the BBC opened Pebble Mill and a local radio station and invited people to their studios.  By luck and good fortune on leaving school I landed a freelance technicians job in local radio.  The BBC is a marvellous organisation.  It was “my University”.  It sent me on courses and trained me in many aspects of broadcasting.  I was fortunate to have found a great set of people who were enthusiastic, kind and patient! I will always feel a debt to them and the BBC. 

After nearly five years I got the chance to join a company making promotional films.  I had always appreciated the short travelogues in the cinema and the films used by the BBC as Colour Trade Test Transmissions on BBC2, as well as the broader authored documentaries such as “Whickers World” and “World in Action”.  The BBC had given me a grounding in some aspects of film and so I took the job.  The company I joined also gave me the opportunity to be part of a new division representing broadcasters and so I became an agent to TV producers, directors and TV and Radio presenters. 

I emigrated to America in 1980, working as a researcher on NBC shows made by Dick Clark Productions such as “Super Bloopers and Practical Jokes!”.  Returning in 1982 to join Central TV becoming Head of Programme Services.  I was a manager in the Programme Department with responsibilities for Researchers, Producers, Directors, Casting Department etc.  In 1992 I moved on to become General Manager of The East West Creative Association, Central TV’s Joint Venture with the Russian Government. 

In 1995 I became International Business Affairs Manager for Action Time and also joined the television agency Roger Hancock Limited. 

By 1998 I set up my current business which represents Film Archives, Clip Archives, Writers, Producers and Directors and TV Game Show Formats.  I work as Business Affairs advisor for two major Independent Production Companies. I acquired The Baim Collection in 1999.  I have continued to search for Archives and represent many small collections.  About three years ago I became a board member of Britain’s oldest trading film company, Adelphi Films Limited. 






Digger: Can you please tell us more about The Baim Collection and about Harold Baim?

Richard: I never met Harold Baim.  He was born in Leeds in 1914 and died in 1996.  According to his family, Harold Baim left Leeds after the death of his father in 1929.  Moving to London in 1931, Harold originally wanted to be a journalist but instead got a job working the clapperboard for film producers at MGM and Renown Pictures.  He then worked for film producer and distributor George Minter and moved on to Columbia Pictures, moving into distribution and selling Columbia’s films to the Odeon, ABC and Gaumont cinema chains.

He obviously learnt about the “Quota” system and saw an opportunity to make films.  The subjects of his early films, made by his company The Federated Film Corporation, were released in the 1940s and featured well known music hall and variety acts such as Wilson Keppel and Betty.  He moved on to travelogues filmed in England many of which are now lost to The Baim Collection.  I think some were destroyed probably because they were shot on Nitrate stock, or just because they were in black and white.  Harold moved onto 35mm colour film production from the mid-‘50s and in the ‘60s he expanded his travelogue subjects to include Europe, the Middle East, South Africa, America and Asia as well as music compilations featuring footage of well-known pop acts of the era.

The BFI list as many as 300 films by Harold.  He probably made between a third and half of cinema shorts in the 1960s.

I am considering how to best make an appeal for the lost titles, prints and negatives, of over one hundred missing titles.  Science Is Golden, was a “lost” title, returned to The Baim Collection Limited in 2010.  A 16mm black-and-white print of the film, which was released in 1949, was discovered in a school cupboard and was returned by the Department of English and Media at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge. The film features Professor Low, who shows how to make "homemade" explosives for use in "magic tricks" and also shows a very early domestic microwave oven and other household labour-saving gadgets for the home, accompanied by the unique Harold Baim script.

Harold never stopped wanting to make films, but his business ended when he was in his late sixties with six titles; Telly Savalas voiced three films on Birmingham, Aberdeen and Portsmouth and Pete Murray (a ‘Baim Star’ from films in the ‘60s) performed the voice-over on three films on Coventry, Hastings and Nottingham.

Harold provided an early career boost for Michael Winner who directed and scripted a number of the Baim films in the early 1960s, including Floating Fortress concerning life on HMS Victorious and the popular comedy about modern manners Behave Yourself.  This is one of the few films in which actors speak and is only one of three shot in black and white, the others being Playing the Game, a comic look at the game of golf released in 1967 and A Pocket Full of Rye. Winner makes a fleeting appearance in the title sequence of Behave Yourself.  Also amongst the Winner titles is the feature-length musical The Cool Mikado starring Frankie Howerd and Tommy Cooper based on the comic opera by Gilbert and Sullivan.

Digger: The portfolio of shorts and films is quite diverse. What genres, topics and titles are available and in what formats?

Richard: Harold decided what he wanted to make films about.  He funded the films, releasing them on licence to distributors, mainly United Artistes.  There are some important films about The Middle East in the 1960s, many animal films, zoos and wildlife and films about British cities. Harold recorded in detail some of the more mundane aspects of life in the 1970s and ‘80s that were not recorded elsewhere on 35mm. Indeed, Harold has been kindly described as “an accidental historian” his legacy of films giving a glimpse of our recent past – and now available in HD.

I started the restoration of the negatives in 1999 and have now got viewing copies of 72 of the 120 surviving films.  I have 14 titles scanned to HD.  Most of the 70 films are available on DigiBeta or BETA SP and have also been digitized so are available as .mov files.

Digger: A lot of the films are full of nuggets for historians, film makers, documentary makers and for those simply interested in our history. What tend to be the most popular from the collection?

Richard: The London films, Big City and One Square Mile have proved useful to programme makers, as have the Blackpool film Playground Spectacular and the film featuring Weston-Super-Mare Down Somerset Way. I’m always surprised which programmes want clips and how they are used. 





Digger: I can remember some of these films from my youth. There’s a particular ‘grammar’ to Baim’s films that is very nostalgic in the light of modern techniques. How much of an innovator and pioneer was Baim? 

Richard: Harold Baim applied a consistent formula to the creation of his films. No one addresses the camera; the camera becomes the narrator's 'eyes' as they interpret the scene.  The majority of the films rely on the unseen narrator's voice-over and very few of the colour films have any lip-sync at all.  Wherever he went from Alsace to Aberdeen, (alliteration was a well-used device in the Baim formula) he took the same consistent approach in introducing his subjects to the audience.  He often opened a travelogue by featuring transport facilities such as motorways, bus stations and airports (a particular favourite).  Then he’d record the old town and educate the audience with a bit of history; this would then contrast well with new "sophisticated" office blocks.  The shadow of World War Two looms large in the films.  Many images showing the rebuilding of London as a result of the Blitz are featured in two films from the early 1960s Big City and One Square Mile. These two films contain beautiful 35mm shots of the emerging high rise buildings which are now an established architectural characteristic of the City of London.  Baim also featured local industries in his films such as the oil industry in Aberdeen or lace-making in Nottingham. Before closing a film there would be a recap and some information about day trips on offer and the narrator often makes a promise to return. The overseas travel depicted was a world away from the holiday aspirations experienced by the everyday British cinema-goer who, at the time, was much more likely to have ventured no further afield than the British seaside.

The shots in the Baim films are longer than in short films made today, which is very useful if a new programme maker is making use of the shots.  Harold was very well planned in the shots he took as 35mm was expensive and he had to have a good idea about what he wanted to use in the finished film, unlike today where directors, certainly in television, can shoot as much as they like, digitally and it costs no more!  I have the ‘out-takes’ or ‘off-cuts’ of the negative for Playground Spectacular and Harold certainly wasted no more than 5 minutes of negative; everything else he shot ended up on the screen. 

Digger: Why do you think retro and nostalgia is generally so popular with so many people these days?

Richard: I’m not too sure; it could be the fact good colour material is available and it looks “special” and bright and clear, a real window into our recent past.  Humans have never had this sort of record of the recent past.   

Digger: And what are your personal retro passions Richard?

Richard: I have a 1964 Daimler V8.  I keep promising myself I’ll get it running properly again, but there is never enough money or time!  It’s a lovely silver grey.  Want to buy a car? 

Digger: Who are your ‘typical’ customers, where are your customers coming from and what customer feedback/comments do you get?

Richard: Extracts have been used in new commissions on BBC TV, ITV and Channel 4 in the last six months.  That’s very pleasing.  With the DVD releases I get kind comments in e-mails and I do see nice comments on various web sites.  If anyone does not like the films, well, there’s nothing I can do about it!  Harold made them; they are ‘of their time’!

Digger: What are the best and most enjoyable aspects of running Baim Films?

Richard: Getting a new film transferred – something that has not been seen for 50 years! 

Digger: What is Baim’s legacy and how important are these films?

Richard: Harold Baim is an accidental historian.  He made the films for commercial gain and sometimes he was not popular because of his hold on the quota system, especially in the 1960s and ‘70s.  The films, looked at now, give us a colourful window on the recent past.  If the images get used by new producers, then that is the legacy.   

Digger: What are your plans for Baim Films in the future Richard?

Richard: The only plan is to get all 120 films – and any others I can find, transferred to HD for use by future researchers, producers and audiences.





The Baim Collection Limited

Director, writer and prolific producer of 35mm 'quota-quickies' and 'short features' his early films featured variety acts; his later films were mainly colourful widescreen travelogues filmed in Great Britain, Ireland, Europe, the Middle East and Asia with commentaries by celebrated actors and broadcasters including Telly Savalas, Nicholas Parsons and Terry Wogan.

There are over one hundred and twenty short colour films originally made for cinema release in the UK and two feature films. Mostly in colour, over half the titles are available on BETA SP or DIGIBETA. DVD screeners are available to researchers and programme makers. HD copies can be made available from the 35mm negatives which are held in London. The majority of images have yet to be broadcast.

The Baim Collection offers researchers and programme makers a colourful window on the post-war period - especially the fifties and 'swinging-sixties'. The collection holds unique images of Britain and a broad selection of international films providing producers historians and documentary makers with affordable illustrative colour material.





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