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The History of Crawley Films

Speech written by Michal Crawley for the Gatineau Historical Society, Monday, on September 16, 1996. The speaker for the event was Sandy Crawley.

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F.R. (Budge) Crawley sits in his office at Crawley Films Ltd, 19 Fairmont Avenue in Ottawa, along with his Academy Award for Best Documentary (Features) in 1975, for The Man Who Skied Down Everest. (Image courtesy © Michal Crawley Image Collection).

Crawley Films was spawned by a young swimmer’s wish to improve his swimming ability and the fortuitous fact that two particular families moved into neighbouring houses on the Queen Elizabeth Driveway in Ottawa.

AA Crawley bought his son F.R. “Budge” a movie camera ($75) to photograph his swimming style.

The AA Crawley family moved into 540 Driveway and the Percy Sparks family including daughter Judy moved into 544. The romance that bloomed between Budge and Judy resulted in their marriage in 1938, five children…and Crawley Films.

Incidentally Percy Sparks (one of the founders of the Gatineau Park) and all three Sparks children – Rod, Judy, Cecily and their families eventually – moved to the Sparks property on the Meech Lake Road –Budge and Judy in 1950. The family/film connection was furthered as Rod Sparks became Crawley’s head of engineering and Cecily a talented film editor and writer. In fact she wrote and edited what many consider to be one of the best documentaries ever made, “Newfoundland Scene” produced in 1949 to celebrate the entry of Newfoundland into Confederation.


HONEYMOON RESULTS IN AWARD

One of Canada’s leading ethnologists, Marius Barbeau of the National Museum, a mentor of Budge and Judy’s suggested that they go to Ile D’Orleans for their honeymoon. Naturally, while there, among other things, they made a film – “Ile d’Orleans’’- which won the American Hiram Percy Maxim Award (Maxim invented the Maxim machine-gun )- for the Best Amateur Film of 1939. The days when Budge was a full time chartered accountant moonlighting as a film maker while Judy shot films, edited, and wrote narrations in the attic billiard room turned film studio at 540 Driveway were coming to an end.


THE FILM BOARD CONNECTION

Crawleys actually began before the National Film Board. In fact, Crawleys, through the work of early staff member Grant Crabtree (who has a Gatineau connection) and Uncle Rod Sparks invented a camera that introduced 16mm synchronized sound to filmmaking in Canada. Although later, the NFB claimed that distinction. (A little private sector bias here?)

The Second World War brought a great demand fortraining and “propaganda” films. The Film Board, founded in 1939 with three people: John Grierson, Ross MacLean and a secretary conscripted anyone with experience and interest in film. As Budge recalled:

We had a Tele land line from the Driveway to the Board on John Street and did a lot of narration and shot interviews there”.

Not all films were directed towards the war effort. There was an apple surplus in Canada during the war, and part of the remedy was a film of Mum’s called “Four New Apple Dishes” — one of these, apple crisp, remains a family favourite.

By the end of the war Crawley’s had a staff of six, was incorporated in 1946, moved out of the attic , and bought an an old church hall at 19 Fairmont in the West End. Perhaps a suitable location given Dad’s strict Methodist upbringing. Here it must be noted that his father, head of successful chartered accountant firm, backed him up financially, even when he thought his son was flying a bit, or a lot, off the ground.

[Aside: Mickie remembers having lunch with Dad at the Cercle Universitaire 1 They joined it as it allowed Jewish members as opposed to the University Club at the time! (thanks to Judy’s McGill degree) years ago and overhearing someone (Lawrence Freiman) say Budge is a great guy but he flies thirty feet off the ground. We recently came across a quote from Dad as follows: “Show me a man with both feet on the ground and I’ll show you a man who can’t put his pants on”.

After the war government contracts tapered off and as Budge said: “You had to go out and hustle. You knew if you put in a certain amount of time you could sell a picture, but your volume would be 12 to 15 thousand dollars a year gross and your film costs might be two or three thousand.” (Perhaps the amounts have changed but you still have to hustle as anyone in the business will verify).

Fortunately, Graeme Fraser, an old Glebe Collegiate friend joined the staff in 1946 and much of the credit for Crawley’s post-war survival and growth goes to him. Business Screen magazine wrote that Graeme “sold more film than anyone else in the world”...probably not an overstatement.


GROWTH

For many years after the war the company grew but remained an extended family, referred to by one writer as “Crawley College”. Long hours for little pay. As Munroe Scott, writer exemplary and Crawley “graduate” wrote, in our family’s favourite obituary for Budge in the form of a letter to him – the following are excerpts;

“You provided the best training ground any young filmaker could hope to find. You also signed the bank loan for my first car and my first house....Compared to you the [Film] Board was lolling around a government oasis while you were hacking away through the commercial, uncharted, forest primeval...


“You conned us, your disciples....That wage negotiation we had? Me yelling at you that you were a bloody pirate, then apologizing and saying that you were’nt a pirate but a privateer. I also called you a son-of-a-bitch and you agreed most humbly! I accepted a five dollar a month raise and you escorted me to the office door with your arm across my shoulders assuring me that, "We’ll all be driving Cadillacs, kid.... [ We didn’t all but it was worth it. Dad did manage a Lincoln -- his father’s favourite car]....

"...Time and again I watched you con sponsors into increasing their budgets but it was never to increase the profit margin
it was always to improve the film. You inflicted all of us with enthusiasm for bigger and better sequences. Many sponsors got better films than they deserved....

“...Thanks to you, there’s a whole underground who have Canada in our bones. You and I wandered the boondocks of Saskatchewan prior to her Jubilee and I was never again simply an Upper Canadian.”

As one article said: “Anyone who worked at Crawley’s was being paid [not much though] to go to film school.”

Many Crawley “students” met their future wives or husbands there. Also four of Mum and Dad’s, depending on how you count it – five or six – children have met wives/husbands/partners through the biz. All of us, the offspring have been, or still are, in careers directly or indirectly related to film.


Crawleys and Canadian Nationalism

If only our mother could have remembered, we might have saved ourselves a whole lot of trouble in this wonderful country. She recounted, that in the fifties, while living on the Meech Lake Road, having a dream which entirely solved the Quebec-Canada difficulties. Try as she did, over the years, she could never remember it. The rest of us will have to keep on trying.

All of us offspring are passionate nationalists. No wonder. In the halcyon years of Crawleys our living room had a screen at the end and a projector window was set into the kitchen so that the noise wouldn’t interfere so much. Night after night, all through our growing up period, Mum and Dad would bring home the “rushes” – all the footage shot on location, without editing and without any sound or words just as it came out of the camera – and screen hour and hours of footage. As kids, perhaps we had homework or other desires, but we would drop in, wordlessly, just to watch the country unfolding before us, unedited.

One of my sister’s especial memories is of the ice breaking up on the MacKenzie River – floe after floe passing by soundlessly — she still thinks of it when in a panic. “This will go on forever and it belongs to my country so relax”.

We were fortunate in that our family holidays were “on location”. We went where our parents were making films – Quebec, even Ontario, the Maritimes, Manitoba, the Prairies, B.C.. They went to the Yukon ,the NWT and Newfoundland without us, unfortunately. They also went to Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Nigeria and Switzerland without us but we got to go to Jamaica! We were always working people not tourists. We got to meet “real” people in their daily lives – farmers, fisher people, miners, business men , pilots, construction workers, housewives…

In this particular gathering, at this particular time, it is perhaps most important to talk about Quebec. Particularly through our mother, there was always an underlying importance in our family life given to Quebec and to Canada’s French heritage. Of course, the Gatineau was and is God’s country. Two of us still live here and three of us did at a time. Quebec is in our blood.

We had a French governess. It was made clear to us that French was a culture that was formative to our country and that it was to be assimilated not because (we are talking the fifties and sixties) it was a ticket to a job but because it was… and is… valuable). None of us regret this, it has been of inestimable value. None of us will ever vote sovereignest. French is a fact of Canada with or without Quebec.

Not to dwell overly on Quebec…we saw and loved the whole country because we experienced it. One story of that experience portrays something good about the RCMP and something special about brother Patrick:

At the time of Saskatchewan’s Jubilee we spent a couple of months “on location” in Saskatchewan. We had a station wagon with a roof deck on which cameras could be mounted and shots taken. When not in use by the cameras, we kids could ride on it. We did. We also got into scuffles on it. At a point, driving across the prairie, Mickie and Pat got into a scuffle...Dad was so angry that he told Pat to get off the roof and walk home(to Maple Creek, not so far away). Pat dismounted and started off over the dusking prairie. Sometime later when he reached a road an RCMP patrol picked him up. By this time my parents were  concerned and had called the RCMP. The RCMP drove to our motel in Maple Creek, bringing Pat home. Dad went out to the car. There was Pat. As Dad stood there thanking them for finding his son, the officer asked Pat, (aged 11) if this was his father. Pat replied, “Ive never seen the man before in my life”. The seed perhaps doesn’t fall far from the tree. The RCMP would not hand Pat over until Dad had produced ID and Mum had vouched for the fact that he was their son.

They weren't taking any chances.

The Crawley films of the late forties, fifties and sixties are a visual archive of that optimistic “golden age” of growth and building the country and celebrating its cultures… paid for by private and public sector sponsors often with no “corporate message” – from the construction of Alcan’s powerhouse at Kitimat, to the building of the Trans-Canada pipeline, Churchill Falls, the St. Lawrence North series, Top of a Continent, the Office of prime Minister, films celebrating Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, the Loon’s Necklace, made in 1949, an Indian legend portrayed with original masks that still earns royalties almost 50 years later…all in all over two thousand films ….


PAT ON BUDGE

In a taped interview for one of the many proposed books about and Crawleys (one is perhaps soon coming to fruition) I would like to quote some of my elder brother Patrick’s observations:

“When Budge saw something huge, like a pipeline...he saw a tremendous event. He saw things directly and confronted them....He documented the industrial 50’s and 60’s. If he hadn’t no one else would have.... He kept the private sector alive almost singlehandedly...He was responsible for the idea that there could even be a private sector..."

“Crawleys got into scenics but the scenics were scenics with a message...what they shot was the infra-structure of the country..."

The quintessential Budge, in one of my sister’s opinion, is summed up as follows by Pat in that interview :

"[John] Grierson (founder of the Film Board) describes him out with A.Y. Jackson (the group of Seven painter) in Algonquin Park. AY is painting and Budge is photographing AY painting and waiting for the light and Budge is waiting for the light. At the core that is what he (Budge) was into. He liked photographs. An image collector is what he really was."

JUDY

Essentially, the heyday of Crawleys flowed from the union of two people both with a dream but with different takes on that dream. Above being spouses, above being parents, above being farming Gatineau dwellers, above all, they were filmakers. Budge’s approach was more immediate, physical and emotional.

Judy’s was analytical, poetic and philosophic. They somehow made their experience more real by putting it on film.

Judy’s experience – times six – of mothering resulted in a long range series of films produced for Health and Welfare and sold in the States – the “Ages and Stages” series…From the New Baby to the Terrible Twos, Trusting Threes, Frustrating Fours, Fascinating Fives on through to the teens. We, her kids, were the “actors”. Chris Chapman remembers Judy “with a frying pan in one hand and a pencil in the other”. A few years before her death Judy, with her longtime friend and colleague, Polly Hill and the editing skills of her daughter Jenny completed a new The New Baby, beginning of a potential re-making of the Ages and Stages series for the 90’s which she didn’t live long enough to continue.

Because she was such a formative partner in Crawleys I will take the liberty of reading a few of her journal entries, things she read and kept because they meant a lot to her. They reflect her approach to life:

How frequently we fail to acknowledge the imperative of change - and let slip the privilege of being it”s agent.

Shridrath Rampal

And this, wisdom for any writer:

The most valuable of all talent is that of never using two words, when one will do.

Anon

The path of fantasy leads to irresponsibility, the path of reality leads to hope.

Anon

“Feeling is the power that drives art. There doesn’t seem to be a more understandable word for it, though there are some that give the idea....aesthetic emotion...quickening...bringing to life...or call it love; not love of a man or woman or home or country or any material thing, but love without an object...intransitive love."

David Milne

TALENT

Budge and Judy had an uncanny ability to spot talent – Meech Lake’s own Bill Masonas well as Chris Chapman began their careers at Crawleys .So did Christopher Plummer and Genevieve Bujold and Buffy St. Marie. Lloyd Robertson was the narrator of many Crawley films as was Fred Davis. Lome Greene too before Bonanza. Actors who appeared in Crawley productions include: Kate Reid, Don Francks, John Vernon, Frances Hyland, Douglas Rain, Lloyd Bochner, Barbara Hamilton, John Drainie, Toby Robins, Bruno Gerussi. For those who remember Kate Aitken …she was not totally what she appeared to be, she was a heavy smoker and loved gin)…and countless others whose faces you’d recognize if you are of a certain age, even though they weren’t household names.

One interesting potential actor whom Budge approached when he was, in later years, keen on making a feature version of the story of Grey Owl refused him as follows, the year is 1984:

“Dear Budge,

It was thoughtful of you to remember our conversation of two years ago at Rideau Hall, about a film of yours. I have not yet had time to think seriously about your suggestion that I could play Archie Belaney as Grey Owl. If you allow me, I would like to keep your invitation in mind, as my future plans develop. It might be fun! With warm regards and with my personal good wishes,

Sincerely, Pierre Trudeau."

WOMEN

Women, in the tradition of the times began as production assistants at Crawleys but were given an opportunity to develop. Judy participating at a seminar in the late ‘70s about women in the film business refused the label feminist because she had never experienced any difficulties in doing what she wanted to do. But perhaps easier for her than others. Women who developed at Crawleys include Kathleen Shannon who became the head of Studio D, the women’s studio ,at the Film Board and responsible for such productions as “Not a Love Story”. Betty Zimmerman became head of CBC Radio International, Sally MacDonald a very special, unique and cherished person was a producer-director of many Crawley Films.


TELEVISION

In 1954 a new wing was built onto the Church hall at 19 Fairmont and a Crawleys office was opened in Toronto. Television had arrived. TV commercials became a new string to Crawleys’ bow.

In 1958 Crawley’s built a film studio on the Scott Road a long stone’s throw from here (soon to become a municipal garage I believe) The studio was built for the production of a major television series – the 39 episode RCMP Series, financed by Crawley, McConnell (of the Montreal Star) the CBC and the BBC.

It is dated today but became an international series sold in Britain, Australia and eventually syndicated in the U.S. It has been re-run on late night TV in the past few years. The leading roles were Gilles Pelletier, a star in Quebec and Don Francks as his anglo assistant. A reflection of Crawleys appreciation of our national duality.


Some RCMP Anecdotes

  • The shooting of the series had quite an effect on the local community. The cafeteria was run by the Boland family. Big crews, lots of vehicles, local residents were paid for the use of their property as locations.
  • One local farmer became quite worried when he found out that his barn was being used for a rape scene. He was concerned about what the neighbours would think when they recognized the location. After some persuasion he went along with it.
  • In one episode a crash of a tanker truck was set up on the bridge at Old Chelsea. As local people stopped to see what was going on, a crew member with a lugubrious sense of humour told the neck-craning crowd that it was an accident and the driver had been killed.
  • A regular member of the cast was an Irish setter, the detachment mascot. The owner of the dog, who transported him regularly to the set was Betty Kennedy of Front Page Challenge fame. It became a standing joke whenver she met Crawley staff…that while her dog was a star for them she never got a part.
  • For winter shooting the crew used a big bombardier for shooting some scenes. One of these was a dog sled crossing the Gatineau River. To shoot it they mounted the sled on the front of the bombardier with the dogs running out in front. The pilot of a small plane happened to fly overhead, made a quick turn a nd flew over again at close range. What he thought he was seeing was a dog team pulling a large bombardier.
  • For radio communications the Dept, of Transport assigned Crawleys a spare channel. It was the year of the Cuban revolution and, sometimes, under freak transmission conditions, the crew could hear much radio traffic in excited Cuban…they were tuned in to the revolution.
  • Each of the three major car companies donated a car to “act” as an RCMP cruiser. They were fully equipped with rifles and all the necessary paraphernalia of law enforcement. One morning a member of the crew was driving one of the cruisers to location when he was stopped by some alert members of the QPP sure that they were on the tail of a stolen RCMP car. It took a lot of explaining to get the driver out of that one.
  • One episode, starring Bruno Gerussi as the villain, required him to be attacked by a police dog. The special effects expert (Ed Fowlie who worked on all David Lean’s pictures including Lawrence of Arabia) constructed a leather arm protector to go under Bruno’s shirt. The dog trainer explained over and over to Bruno that the dog would go for his arm and that all he had to do was keep thrashing his arm and the dog would keep holding onto it. When the actual moment came, Bruno froze. Immediately the dog let go and bit him in the buttocks. He recovered, fortunately for Beachcombers fans.
  • One of our family’s favourite cast members was Angus Baptiste, an (Algonkian?) from Maniwaki. Angus didn’t want to stay in our house or have a place rented for him. Instead he pitched a winter tent in the spruce trees near the house. We spent many a happy night by the winter campfire eating bannock made by Angus and telling stories. Angus’ predeliction from time to time were the taverns in town. Periodically Mum would make trips to town to retrieve gentle Angus who had forgotten that he had to be on set that day.

MORE TV

At the same time as the RCMP, another TV series, documentary not fiction, St- Lawrence North (Au Pays de Neuve France) began production. The creator and scriptwriter Pierre Perrault and Crawley director Rene Bonniere went on location for a year shooting along the north shore of the St, Lawrence from Tadoussac to the Straits of Belle Isle. The series is of mainly ehtnographic interest today and had a profound effect on Perrault who went on to make Quebec features including Pour la Suite du Monde and La Regne du Jour. He also became a passionate seperatist …we hope the Crawley experience wasn’t a factor.

Though these series were critical successes they were not money-makers…

Crawleys then contracted to make 130 five-minute cartoons in the Tales of the Wizard of Oz series for Video craft of NewYork. By the time the final special Return to Oz was aired in 1964 there were 40 animators on staff, including three ex-Winnipeggers, Bill Mason, Barrie Nelson and Blake James – Meech Lake residents and, need we add, rabid or should that be rapid? canoeists.


FEATURES

By this time, Dad became enthralled by the idea of making dramatic feature films. The first, directed by staff director Rene Bonniere was Amanita Pestilens. made for $300,000 it was the first screen appearance of Genevieve Bujold (later to star in Anne of a Thousand Days, Coma and Dead Ringers), the first Canadian feature filmed in colour and the first feature (Amanita Pestilens) shot simultaneously in two languages. It also bombed at the box office. In part at least because given its environmental theme it was ahead of its time.

Undeterred, next came The Luck of Ginger Coffee. Based on the novel by Brian Moore it starred Robert Shaw (later of The Sting and Jaws fame) and his wife Mary Ure . It was directed by Irwin Kershner later director of the Empire Strikes Back. The stars and the director all lived in Kingsmere (I think the Shaws in the Toller House). The Luck of Ginger Coffee won the Canadian Film Award for Best Theatrical Feature in 1965. There is an unconfirmed story that Robert Shaw was so taken by Budge’s persona that he modelled his interpretation of Henry VIII in A Man for All Seasons after him.


EXPO ‘67

In the build-up to Expo ’67 and the Fair itself the sponsored film division was very busy. Notable pre-Expo productions were Quality of a Nation produced for E.B. Eddy with interviews of famous Canadians and Come to the Fair.

Productions for Expo itself called for frantic activity at the Fairmont Studio. Crawleys produced films for the CN Pavilion, the Kodak Pavilion and were consultants for the Canadian Government Pavilion’s revolving theatre with five four-minute films on Canadian history. Judy Crawley wrote and directed The Wonder of Photography for Kodak part of which was projected onto a water fountain screen. The CN pavilion film Motion, was directed by Vincent Vatiekunas, later head of the Film School at York University. It was subsequently released by Warner Brothers as a theatrical short (perhaps some of you remember the days when there was a pre-feature film rather than just previews of coming soon features?).

By 1969, Crawley films had produced 1800 motion pictures, 600 TV commercials, 100 slide shows and won 180 national and international awards. The company was the largest commercial producer of educational and documentary films in North America – and second in the world.


BACK TO FEATURES

Janis

In 1970, Budge was called in by Maclean Hunter to see what could be done to rescue the ill-fated (for them) Festival Express Film. It was a documentary of a concert tour by train, featuring Janis Joplin, The Band, Ian & Sylvia and Robert Charlevoix among others. One could say that Budge fell in love with Janis
(some have said she looks like him and perhaps there is a resemblance). He started out to gather footage of Janis concerts and TV interviews from around the world. It took a lot of energy and hustle and even involved a car chase a car chase in Toronto . The holder of the Festival Express footage, determined to keep it, escaped by car with the footage tailed by Budge in his car. In a keystone cops dodge the tailee pulled into a parking lot and lay down on the seat. Budge eventually found the footage in a frozen food locker. The end result was Janis released in 1974. The film, now distributed by Sony Entertainment of New York still brings in substantial royalties…for which we are truly thankful.


The Rowdyman and Hamlet

(and July and August)

Budge acted as Executive Producer on Peter Carter’s first feature, The Rowdyman, written by and starring Gordon Pinsent – the story of a Peter Pan of the Rock, still seen on late night TV from time to time.

Hamlet, the film version of an experimental production of the great play by the Thog Theatre in Toronto in 1972 was directed by Rene Bonniere, the before-his- time director of Amanita Pestilens. The play, based on the original folios, had no sets, Hamlet was played by a male and female charater bound together. It too bombed but remains a great film to my brother Rod who was the sound editor on the picture. We all agree that it too was way before it’s time. If we get our act together perhaps something can be done with it now. Lest you think that Rene Bonniere couldn’t put the food on the table he has directed multi-episodes of such Canadian TV successes as Street Legal, ENG and Night Heat (?) and such TV dramatic features as When the Bough Breaks starring Jacki Burroughs, a very powerful portrait of a single mother’s desperation.

In the early 70s Budge also produced and distributed July and August described by one writer as a “90-minute romp in the country by two lesbians.” Budge is quoted as saying the best thing about the picture was the poster – two women kissing. He may have been a soft touch, but in many ways he was ahead of his time.


The Man Who Skied Down Everest

Called in to doctor a film about a Japanese expedition to film a skier on Mount Everest — Everest Symphony – Budge and Judy saw that focus of the film was all wrong, it focussed on the expedition rather than the personality of the skier — Yoshira Muira. This was in part because the cameraman had intensely disliked the skier and refused to shoot any close-ups. Crawleys had to shoot new close­ ups of Muira and carefully match them to the original photography and re-edit the film. That, combined with a brilliant point-of-view script based on Muira’s diaries by Judy Crawley, the equally brilliant sound effects createdand edited by a team that included Rod Crawley and the evocative music score by another Gatineau dweller Larry Crosley brought The Man Who Skied Down Everest the 1975 Oscar for the best Documentary Feature.

The Oscar did not come without at least one panic. The final print of the film was inadvertently left in a New York taxicab trunk. Fortunately an insurance claim provided the money to reconstruct the film from scratch.

Zoom in to a vignette of the Academy Awards ceremony:

Budge is sitting next to Shirley MacLaine, whose picture, a documentary on China, is nominated in the same category. He is in a tux (rare) and nervous (not as rare as you might think).

“Relax”, says Shirley.

“How can I relax?” says Budge, “I’ve seen your film. It’s terrific.”

“I’ve seen all five nominated films,” says Maclaine, “And your is the best”.

The envelop please…

“The Man Who Skied Down Everest…a Crawley Films production…”.

He kissed Shirley, and went up to thank them for “this American award, for a Canadian film about a Japanese adventurer who skied down a mountain in Nepal”.


AFTER OSCAR

I can’t remember what famous Hollywood personage said it, or perhaps it is a myth, that winning an Oscar is the kiss of death.

In the years following the Oscar Budge became more and more interested in feature production in particular, he became obsessed, not too strong a word,
with making a film of a novel by Fred Bodsworth — The Strange One. Written in the fifties it is the parallel love story of a male Canada Goose and a female Barnacle Goose and that of a University ornithologist with a Cree woman. My sister Michal still has a file drawer of various versions of scripts by at least ten witers. If made in the fifties it might have been controversial, it certainly would have been beautiful, but racial prejudice had changed by the time Budge came to focus his energies on the story. We believe he was enthralled not by the people part of the story , but by the bird part and the rugged Arctic setting. He was a man enthralled by powerful and lonely images of Canadian land and sea and by the idea of survival so well examined by Margaret Atwood.

Crawley’s was sold in 1982 to Bill Stevens and Atkinson Film Arts. Because of changing times and different personalities it no longer exists. But it was fun while it lasted. The Crawley film Collection, some excerpts of which we’ll soon see, now resides at the National Archives of Canada.

After disengaging from Crawley’s Judy set up her own production company at times working with her two daughters, son Patrick, son-in-law Larry Crosley and old friend and co-creator of the Ages and Stages child develoment series Polly Hill. She died before achieving the production she was working on ‘til her death – the story of the Queen’s favourite horse “Burmese” presented to Her Majesty by the RCMP (there is definitely a Crawley -Gendarmerie Royale connection here). Burmese was the horse the Queen rode for many years at her Birthday trooping of the colour down Pall Mall.

Challenged by strokes, Budge went to his grave (along with Judy who had died 8 months before) across the street in the Old Chelsea historical graveyard. Judy’s ashes contained in a 17th Century French copper vase and Budge’s in a 35mm film can with the sticker marked “Rush-Urgent” – we hope he made it.

Perhaps it is fitting that these two filmakers died with passionate projects still at the forefront of their minds.

Crawley’s operated oputside of the Montreal-Toronto axis, they survived and prospered in the good years. They were willing to invest in ideas they believed in. Perhaps the major idea they believed in, and have left a visual legacy to prove it, is Canada.


Epilogue

While I have covered some of the more “glamourous” productions, if the word glamourous can ever be applied to film production (it’s really blood, sweat, tears and a lot of fun) it must be said that the bread and butter of Crawleys success were the hundreds of training, educational and sponsored films including the now nostalgic series of Grey Cup games – the CFL in its hayday — and those that promoted Canadian tourism, Canadian history, Canadian social values and those told the story of Canada through the growth of our industries.

Before we switch on the video and let the films speak for themselves — the best history I’m sure my parents would agree – I just want to mention some of those talented, dedicated people behind the camera, people that made Crawleys what it was, some of them have been mentioned already but there were many others. Budge and Judy were the leaders but they could not have done it without:

Tommy Glynn, Stan Brede, Bill MaCauley, George Gorman, Peter Cock, Ed Reid, Tony Betts, Frank Stokes, Glenn Robb, Jim Turpie, Bob Leclair Alex Murray, Anna Just, Moe Beauchamp and hundreds of others who have helped to build the industry throughout Canada and even inTinseltown – Hollywood… Thanks to all of them and thanks to you for listening.

Now, lights, camera, sound, action!

1 Comment

  1. Hey Sandy! Patrick! Et al! I wd love to get together with you all if you’re still around. Got a great movie to make. Give me a shout at above email. I saw you last, Sandy, at Ramblin Jacks show/Hugh’s Room. 🤙🏻 647 512.3815 Port Credit…

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