Gathered for lunch in Ottawa, Canada to mull over memories of Moor Hall Studios in Cookham are (left to right) Jim Macaulay, Eunice Macaulay (nee: Bagley), Bob Egby and Bill Clarke.
BY BOB EGBY (NOVEMBER 2007)
"If you had ever told me at Moor Hall Studios in Cookham in 1948, that in sixty years, four of us would be having lunch in Ottawa, Canada I would have said that's stretching the imagination."
So said Eunice Macaulay as she sat down to lunch with Jim Macaulay, Bill Clarke and Bob Egby for a session exchanging memories of Gaumont British Animation. In those days, her name was Eunice Bagley.
They all agreed that Moor Hall not only gathered considerable talent for the production of the 19 cartoon films - Animaland and Musical Paintbox, but when it closed, the talent went off into the world and made considerable contributions to the film industry.
Jim Macaulay, Bill Clarke and Eunice Macaulay were all involved in Oscar- winning films, and all came together through Bob Egby's five-year-old-and-growing Moor Hall Studios website.
"Meeting Eunice and Jim has helped me identify people in some of the photos on the web, and added new names to the studio employee list," said Egby who will be 77 in February. Jim and Eunice are in their mid-eighties. "I'm trying to get as much recorded on the web before the mists of time close in and what happened at Moor Hall Studios at Cookham are gone
JIM MACACULAY: After working with Eddie Radage and Jack Stokes on 35 mm commercials for Odeon Cinemas, and with the closure of G.B. Animation, Jim Macaulay spent time in Scotland recovering from Tuberculosis. Eunice Bagley, a supervisor in the Trace and Paint Department at Moor Hall Studios, moved up to Scotland to be with him. They married in 1950. Over the years, they worked on various films for a variety of companies.
While working for a company named Templars, he was appointed assistant to Hilary Harris of New York City who was making a documentary film on the Clyde's shipbuilding industry. They completed the production named "Seawards the Great Ships." In 1962 it won an Academy Award in Hollywood for the Best Short Subject.. The film also received a nomination for an award in the British Academy of Films and Television the year previously.
It was then that Jim Macaulay received an invitation to join the National Film Board of Canada's animation department, and that's how he and Eunice came to Canada. Macaulay worked on various films for the NFB before heading the Sheridan Institute's School of Animation in Toronto which awards degrees of Applied Arts in Animation.
EUNICE MACAULAY: Eunice Bagley, as she was know then, served as a radio mechanic with the Royal Navy in the last years of the war. A Christmas card she created for her own amusement brought her to the attention of Gaumont British Animation. They hired her as a tracer in 1948, but she soon became a supervisor in charge of 30 inkers and painters. She and her husband moved to Canada in the early 1960s, where she stayed in film production, freelancing for Hilary Harris Films, the National Film Board, and she made puppets for the pulp and paper pavilion at Expo 67 in Montreal.In 1973 she was hired by the National Film Board full time as coordinator of assistant animators, trace and paint supervisor, color designer and checker.
Eunice produced films, wrote scenarios and animated films for the NFB. In 1978 she co-directed a film called "Special Delivery" The scenario was this: The first big mistake Ralph makes is not clearing the snow from the front walk, and his life goes downhill from that point on. By the end of the story, the mailman has fatally slipped on his job, Alice, his wife, doesn't live there anymore, and Ralph resolves to stop worrying--about the body, his wife, and the front walk. The seven minute animated film took Eunice to the Academy Awards in Hollywood. She and co-director John Weldon came home with Oscars. Eunice's work was also nominated for another Oscar but it went to someone else. She retired from the National Film Board in 1990.
BILL CLARKE, born in Maidenhead and raised at Cookham Rise, was 16-years-old when he was hired as a junior diagrammatic animation artist with Gaumont British Animation. He says: "For two years I received on-the-job basic training from top professionals in their field." Moor Hall closed while Bill was away on National Service. Afterwards he worked for various film production companies, including GB Instructional at Elstree, Halas and Batchelor, and W.M. Larkins. It was then that Crawley Films, quickly becoming the largest feature film producers in Canada, hired Ken Gay, one of the "top professionals" from Moor Hall days as their Head of Animation, and Bill was hired as Assistant. Thus he moved to Canada.
While at Crawley Films, Bill worked on various films as a animator, animation cameraman, production planning and then in 1976 Crawley Films produced a film entitled "The Man Who Skied Down Everest." Bill directed the mountain graphic sequences. It won the Oscar for the Best Full Length Documentary Feature.
Later he operated his own film production company and created graphics and animation for 75 television commercials, plus a variety of other films.
BOB EGBY born in Maidenhead was also sixteen when he joined G.B. Animation as a Studio messenger. "I learned a lot in the two years I was there. It was memorable." After many years as a journalist and news photographer in Cyprus and the Middle East (He won an Honourable Mention in the British Press Pictures of the Year 1956), he and his family emigrated to British Columbia where he was appointed managing editor of a newspaper, served as news director at a radio station and won three national awards for radio documentaries. He moved to the east coast of the United States ten years ago and now lives in upstate New York where he runs a Ministry, conducts weddings, teaches interfaith spirituality, writes self-help books and runs the Moor Hall Studios website.