23/12/1935 ~ 19/09/2002
When the media reported the comparatively minor September earthquake which originated in Dudley, they opined that very little of importance had ever happened, or come out of Dudley. Obviously they had never heard of James Whale the director of “Frankenstein” or more importantly, Derek Simmonds and Derann Films. While Derek wasn’t born in Dudley, for most collectors it was he who put it firmly on the map.
By now most of you will have learned that Derek, following a long illness, passed away in late September. Even though I knew he was ill, and things were not going too well it still came as a great shock - he seemed indestructible – I thought he would go on forever. Derek will be greatly missed by many collectors of both Super 8 and 16mm. His cheeky charm and leg-pulling made him a great favourite with what is known as ‘the punters’ - this is how most of us will remember him.
When I last spoke to Derek just a week before his death I told him of my plans for devoting both of the 2003 BFCC conventions to celebrating the 50th anniversary of CinemaScope. Derek and I both had a great love of the system, including the early stereophonic sound systems. At the May 17th 2003 45th BFCC we will be including a programme of original 35mm 4-track magnetic sound shorts (courtesy of Ben Wales) along with several other early ‘Scope films and other formats that soon followed from my own collection - the theme being “CinemaScope And Beyond!”. At the 46th BFCC (October 25th 2003) we will be including talks and illustrated lectures etc. Both these events will be in memory of Derek (as was the recent 44th BFCC) in recognition of his invaluable contribution to our hobby and we intend at some point to put together a programme of some of the more memorable items that Derek released through Derann.. Derek’s contribution to “Armchair Odeons No.3”, showing his home cinema will be run a number of times in the lobby of Ealing Town Hall at the 44th BFCC on October 26th.
My Technical co-organizer, John Clancy and I will continue to promote the hobby and keep it alive. Derann Film Services will continue to organize the Blackpool and Birmingham conventions and continue to offer collectors both new and second-hand films. I will continue, as others have done in the past, to offer up items for them to release in Super 8. Things will never ever be quite the same again - but we must carry on the best we can.
Keith Wilton, Organizer British Film Collectors Conventions