16.01.1921 – 11.12.2012
Harry Oakes BSC was part of the backbone that made British Visual Effects what they are today, so many owe so much to him and he was a gentleman of the highest order. The BSC recognised his input by honouring him back in 2002 with the BSC Charles D. Staffell Award for Visual Effects, donated by producer Kevin Francis in fond memory of Charles. During WWII, Oakes served with the Royal Corps of Signals, and volunteered for the AFPU [Army Film and Photographic Unit] and served with No 5 Section in North West Europe from 1944 - 1945. He then served in South East Asia and then returned to cover the Allied Occupation of Vienna, December 1946. Equally at home using a cine or still photograph camera, he was one of the AFPU team deployed under the command of Lt H A Wilson to cover the relief of Bergen-Belsen (or Belsen) concentration camp in April 1945. He also covered the Rhine Crossing, accompanying the airborne landing of 6th Airborne Division, and the meeting of British and Soviet Forces on the Elbe. After the war, Oakes started working as a clapper loader with Hammer Films progressing to focus puller on films such as: The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) directed by Val Guest and photographed by Walter J. Harvey, The Curse of Frankenstein (1957) directed by Terence Fisher and photographed by Jack Asher BSC, The Camp on Blood Island (1958) directed by Val Guest and photographed by Jack Asher BSC, The Hound of the Baskervilles (1959) directed by Terence Fisher and photographed by Jack Asher BSC.
By 1964, he had turned his hand to special effects on productions such as Thunderbirds 1965/6 TV) (SFX lighting cameraman), Thunderbirds Are go! (1966) (SFX lighting cameraman), Captain Scarlett and the Mysterons (1967) (TV) (SFX lighting cameraman), Thunderbird 6 (1967) feature directed by David Lane (Director of Photography), Journey to Far Side of the Sun a.k.a. Doppelganger (1968) (SFX lighting cameraman), U.F.O (1969/70) (TV) (SFX lighting cameraman), The Protectors (1971-72) (2nd unit cameraman), Space 1999 (1973-74) (TV) (SFX lighting cameraman), Aces High (1976) feature directed by Jack Gold and photographed by Gerry Fisher BSC (SFX lighting cameraman), Superman the movie (1978) feature directed by Richard Donner and photographed by Geoff Unsworth BSC (Model unit cameraman, for a few months only standing in for Paul Wilson), Flash Gordon feature directed by Mike Hodges and photographed by Gil Taylor BSC (1979-80) (Model unit lighting cameraman), Superman 3 feature directed by Richard Lester and photographed by Bob Paynter BSC (1982) (Model unit lighting cameraman), Terrahawks (1983-84) (TV) (SFX lighting cameraman), Aliens feature directed by James Cameron and photographed by Adrian Biddle BSC (1985) (Model unit lighting cameraman), Superman 4 feature directed by Sidney J. Furie and photographed by Ernest Day BSC (1986-87) (Model unit lighting cameraman), Memphis Belle (1989) feature directed by Michael Caton-Jones and photographed by David Watkin BSC (Model unit cameraman), Space Precinct (1994) (TV) (SFX photography, first 10 episodes only).
He is also credited with additional photography on Dracula (1979) directed by John Badham and photographed by Gil Taylor BSC and Legend (1985) directed by Ridley Scott and photographed by Alex Thomson BSC