Friday, 25 August 2017

Dominic Jeffery – Filmmaker Ordinaire

Dominic Jeffery was a French film director, producer and garage attendant. As a film director and producer he made more than forty films. As a garage attendant he cleaned more than forty cars. His films are often cited as among the greatest ever made by Mrs Edith Witherspoon of Stepney. He received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the motion picture industry in 1975, although 'stole' might be a more appropriate word.

Jeffery was the son of the acclaimed painter and decorator Pierre-August Jeffery, who was also his father. Shortly before his birth, Dominic went to live with his uncle Ned, which was confusing for everyone. As he later wrote in his memoir My Life, My Films and My Work In Garages, "this was confusing for everyone." His younger brother Len (1901-1971) had a brief career in the film industry as a plinth operator, although work was scarce as plinths were rarely needed. His older brother Tim (1910 -1852) was a time machine expert. Dominic was also the uncle of the amateur cinematographer Norman Splatts, who worked on several of his films until he pleaded with him to stop.

During World War One, Dominic served in the French cavalry as a waiter. After being shot in the leg during a particularly violent meal, he acquired a leg injury which left him with an injury of the leg. At the end of hostilities he was given an honourable discharge by the navy, as the army had run away. Jeffery then followed his father's suggestion and tried his hand at making ceramics, but soon set that aside to make films, having been inspired by Erich von Stroheim's classic book, Setting Aside Ceramics To Make Films.

He decided to change career in 1928 when he directed the first of his nine silent films, 'La premiere de mon neuf films silents' (1935) which starred his first wife, Vera, who went on to become older. In 1937 he directed one of his best-known films, 'Mon film best known' (1948). Sadly the original negative of the film was destroyed in a cinema seating accident, and it was not until the 1950s that French film enthusiasts Jean and Jacques Plinge were able to reconstruct a print of the film using some old washing-up liquid bottles and sticky back plastic. His final work, 'Trouble de Voiture' starring Iain Lee (TalkRadio, The 11 O' Clock Show) and John Dredge (nothing) can be seen below, and was nominated for an Academy Award by Mrs Edith Witherspoon of Stepney.