Stanley L Russell - Scottish Industrial Film Maker
Stanley Livingstone Russell, a Glaswegian born in 1905, had trained in law. His passion however was film making. With Jack Robertson and others, Russell formed the Meteor Film Producing Society in 1932 and became its Secretary. Through Meteor, they organised the Scottish Amateur Film Festival. First held in 1933, it claimed not only to be the first of its kind in Scotland, but also the world.
Emboldened by the success of his hobby, amateur cinema, he decided to move into professional film making. At the time, it was said of Russell, that with his good-looks, tall stature and snappy dress-sense, he could have been a film star- but his passion for film lay behind the camera. In May 1936, he joined inventor and entrepreneur Malcolm Irvine’s production company Scottish Films. The company, established in 1928, with studios in Glasgow’s India Street had started out to make silent films, but the advent of ‘talkies’ soon afterwards had hit the young company hard. Irvine had designed and built a sound recording system to enable Scottish Films to compete in the new world of talking pictures. However work on his home made system, Albion Truphonic, and the associated costs of re-equipping for sound production had slowed the production of films. Russell’s appointment was designed to re-energise the company.
With Russell in place as production manager the Glasgow-based studio boasted all the facilities necessary for shooting, processing and editing films and was ready to benefit from the surge in production orders that came from industrial, government and local authority sponsors in the run up to the 1938 Empire Exhibition.
In 1943 Russell established with Jack Robertson his former colleague at Meteor, his own film production unit, Russell Productions, with offices both in Glasgow and London. In 1945 it became Thames & Clyde Film Company Ltd, marketing themselves as Producers of Motion Pictures and specialising in educational, instructional, industrial films, as well as agricultural, propaganda and newsreel footage.
In his career Russell directed or produced over 100 films on an astonishing range of subjects for theatrical distribution, for classroom use, industrial promotion and public information. He directed films about hygiene, housing, subsidence, theatre, farming, dancing, whisky, policing, the war effort, heavy engineering, carpets, sport and home economics.
Russell was a great evangelist for Scottish film production and campaigned in support of the development of a film industry in Scotland. He was a founder member of the Scottish Film Producers Association. He believed that Scotland had a place in the film market, arguing that it was imperative to create a domestic outlet for the obvious existence of Scottish talent, which was being compelled to go elsewhere, as well as capitalise on the opportunity to promote Scotland and Scottish products worldwide through film.
Stanley L. Russell died of a sudden illness in 1964. and Thames & Clyde Productions was wound up.
Four of his films, are available on our DVD "A Romance of Engineering", the title film was made for the Empire Exhibition in Glasgow, 1938.