29.08.1918 - 14.10.2008
UIGI UMBERTO (LES) OSTINELLI - Humphries - Rank Labs - Technicolor. 20 years service on the board of Governors of the British Society of Cinematographers, he served between 1973 and 1993.
LES (Luigi Umberto) OSTINELLI BSC, FBKSTS, AIC (Hon) was born in London on 29th August 1918. Luigi, or Les as he preferred, had a tough upbringing after the First World War but spoke happily of his time at St. Martin-in-the Fields School and life as a choirboy! He loved football and soon started to support his beloved Arsenal. After school in 1935 he started work as a Camera and Labs Trainee at Denham Studios and it was during this time that he met his wife-to-be, Alice, at the Apple Tree Restaurant in Gerrards Cross, where she resided. Alice later went to work at the lab with her sister, Judy.
In 1937, Les became a technician at Technicolor but was called up to WW2 in July 1939 and was immensely proud to be serving his country. Anyone calling him Luigi instead of Les was always reminded very forcibly that he was English!
He started in the Royal Army Medical Corps, married Alice on 20th January 1940 and after a short ceremony in the Chequers Hotel in Uxbridge, returned to barracks. In December 1941 he joined the Army Film and Photographic Unit (AFPU) stationed at Lime Grove Studios for 2 weeks where George Hill instructed him in Camera Maintenance on the DeVry, Eymo and Newman Sinclair Cameras. As an AFPU cameraman with the 8th Army he was stationed in Cairo and later Italy. After the war he became a freelance camera operator prior to joining MGM Studios in 1947 as a Matte, Model and Optical Cameraman. In 1954 he moved to Olympic Labs as Colour Supervisor Consultant and in 1958 to Humphries and subsequently to Rank Labs, Denham as Production Consultant in 1970. In 1974 he was headhunted by Technicolor and became their Technical Director until his retirement in 1984; following that, he worked as a consultant back at Rank Labs. His wife Alice had never enjoyed robust health and Les was devastated when she died in June 1996. Les became the cameraman’s friend, ever happy and enthusiastic to experiment at the laboratory to achieve their desired effects. He did many of these. Frances Russell, his assistant at Rank Labs and Technicolor, who later become the BSC Company Secretary , remembered one particular experiment with David Watkin (Hon BSC), which involved the removal of the anti halation backing.