Behind the camera, the world is one removed – you’re not really there; all that matters is inside the viewfinder.

And so it is with Keith. He has setup his heavy, clockwork Newman Sinclair camera way down at the end of a grassy plain in the New Guinea highlands. The Cessna is now accelerating towards him. Sure, the pilot will take off and fly right over his head. It will happen, won’t it …

No, it doesn’t. The Cessna’s wheel hits the solid metal camera and smashed it into his face. The camera is destroyed. Keith is knocked unconscious, his right eyeball dangling loose.

This amazing 1961 photograph was snapped by production assistant, Chris McCullough, a split second before the wheel hit Keith and missed Chris. The hand at the bottom left is director Ian Dunlop, who was meant to pull Keith down in case of trouble.

Seven years after the accident, I’m called to the Australian Commonwealth Film Unit, the home of government movie propaganda.

“Dick, don’t do this to me. I don’t want a one eyed cameraman.”

“Keith is our senior cameraman. You’ll like him.”

“Let me shoot it myself. I’m good. I don’t need a cameraman – especially a blind one.”

“Want the job? Take Keith,” says Dick.

It’s a deal breaker. Fine, I’ll bring two cameras – Keith can do his boring, 5 ft. high tripod, 10-1 zoom thing, I’ll do my own shooting.

I don’t like Keith. He’s a rough and tumble, much married, ex-communist turned filmmaker, while I’m a brilliant, young filmmaker. He smokes Gitanes non-stop and he makes leery eyes at my production assistant, Rosemary.

Not only that, he’s half-blind.

She doesn’t like Keith either. Rosemary is a gently-reared country girl who felt out of place in the country. She moved away as soon as she could, left Australia, studied television in Seattle and then worked in London as a PA.

“He touched me!”


“On the leg, here. I was in the passenger seat, Keith was driving. He told a joke and patted me. Tell him to stop. I don’t like him.”

It’s ten days later and I’ve had my talk with Keith. Things have calmed down.

We are in Darwin, the most northern city in Australia. “Barbarella” is showing at the local movies. The night is hot. The air smells of frangipanis.

“What was Barbarella’s mission?”

It’s a fun game we’re playing in the hotel’s swimming pool.

“To find Doctor Durand Durand and destroy the Positronic Ray.”

We splash around in the pool laughing. Keith is swimming with Rosie.

“The name of the city?”

Sogo, built above the Mathmos.

With a cry of De-crucify the angel! both Keith and Rosie disappear under the water.

Things change. I get to like and admire Keith; the way he has overcome his accident, his willingness to try new camera techniques, his knowledge of film history (especially early Russian), his enthusiasm for Buckminster Fuller. We are friends.

But best of all, he loves my Rosie and she loves him.

1968 - Keith, squatting/shooting with left eye, me - pretending to direct, Rosie with Sennheiser rifle mike

We are a happy crew, doing good work.

Keith and Rosie are engaged and a year later, married.

1969 - Their Wedding Day

Keith and Rosie, I love you both. Miss you terribly.

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