The man behind the camera, center-stage
This sequence shows Colin Ross at work shooting a scene in New Guinea, a rare glimpse of self-promotion on film.
Mit dem Kurbelkasten um die Erde (approximate translation: Around the world with the hand-cranked camera), was the title of Ross’s breakthrough film from 1925. Thanks to his wife Lisa Ross’s collaboration behind the camera, it was the first film that featured him prominently in many shots, helping to popularize Ross’s image. (See: Lisa Ross, camera operator)
This excerpt from Colin Ross’s Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! (1930) goes even further. He is shown with his camera, setting up a shot of two girls going up a ladder in the town of Hanuabada in the Territory of Papua. At the very end of this excerpt, shots from the position of the depicted camera are shown. This way, not only is Ross, the director, seen at work, but we also get a sense of the technical equipment—consisting of two cameras, as the scene makes clear—used to report back from this faraway place. Foregrounding the shooting situation also highlights the different reactions to the camera, with most people looking back (laughing or skeptical), some averting their eyes, others minding their own business.
Colin Ross. Neuguinea [archive title]
[Excerpt from] Colin Ross. Achtung Australien! Achtung Asien! Das Doppelgesicht des Ostens. Germany: Ufa/Ullstein; 1930.
35mm | b&w | silent | 218m | 16 fps | 12’
Master: 0003-02-0300_Neuguinea_ProRes-422HQ_24fps_MOS.mov; 0:04:32,04-0:05:32,14
Case: Oceania-Asia trip 1928-30