Brief Text History of McKears

This brief history of McKears fills the gaps left by other parts of this site.

I fell on a rake when I was 4 and contracted septic arthritis in my right leg. Lengthy hospital treatment meant that I did not start school until I was 8 by which time the infection and complications had left me with an un-united spontaneous arthroddesis of the right knee. In other words a virtually stiff right knee. Unfortunately, the important words are un-united and virtually as the very very slight degree of movement remaining causes ever present pain. Over the years, I have had to become adept at balancing a reasonable mobility against the debilitating effects of excessive activity. It is only in the early nineties that I was able to quantify my subjective acceptance of normal discomfort when I fell over and jarred the stiff leg. A week later, I finally noticed that it was still aching a bit more than usual. An X-ray showed that I had broken the fibula in the stiff leg. While the pain can be a sod, the stiff leg and the fact that I'm over 6 ft tall causes a far more inhibiting problem which is loos, especially on long haul flights. I will leave the details to your imagination! This is now no longer a problem as it's virtually impossible, due to all the new "safety" regulations, for anybody with a stiff leg to fly anything other that first or business class - which I can't afford!

However, let me return to my early years. Fortunately, even though I was late in starting school, I was able to catch up by staying incarcerated on the Isle of Wight until I was nearly 20. No, I don't mean Parkhurst, just a close relation, Bembridge School, a minor public school on the Isle of Wight - a fairly difficult experience being disabled at a boys public school in the 50s. Somehow, even after being expelled once and reinstated twice, I managed to escape, sorry leave, with rather too many O levels, a few A levels and a place at university to read economics. But this was now the Sixties, so I dropped out for, well let's say a while ,and caught up on my education in other ways.

Later, I decided that it was time to do something with my life - my mother used to insist that she remembered it differently and rambled on using such words as ultimatums, rent, food, a roof over my head. I had been interested in photography for many years and was able to enrol in one of the few advanced photographic courses available at Portsmouth College of Art. In those happy days, higher education was still in the make it up as you go along mode, as well as being free, so I stayed for an extra year course in film making - one of the first such courses available. IIP, City & Guilds and film extension were the highest and only qualifications that could be achieved in the early sixties and I managed a 1st Intermediate Institute of Incorporated Photographers, 2nd City and Guilds Commercial Photography and a 2nd City and Guilds Scientific Photography.

These reasonable professional qualifications secured an interview, via Robin Day an OB at Bembridge, with the BBC with the view of becoming a cameraman. This ambition was brought to an abrupt halt as I was turned down because I was disabled. Since then I have done many jobs in the media slowly building up from a photographer in a museum, exhibition designer, newsreel cameraman for Butlins, cinematographer at a college, got an ACTT ticket, assistant head of the film camera department at Thames TV for a very short time and finally to a fully freelance cameraman/producer. While I only made a modest amount of films since my first film in 1966, I was only unemployed for less than a total of 24 months until 1992 and during the 80s managed to make a reasonable living by photographing and producing a few high value non-broadcast productions. I, also, during that period managed to co-found a charity called COMPAID (Computer Charity for Disabled People) and write a book about the same subject.

In the early 90s, I felt that I now had enough experience as a disabled producer/photographer to approach the BBC. Once again, I secured an interview only to be told that I was not really disabled click Life Remarks. This simple statement from a very senior BBC man made me reconsider my career as I mistakenly took this to mean that broadcast television now employed many disabled people and my modest output would pale in comparison. I was wrong, then and now, but I then concentrated more on my secondary career of writing software. Family illness, the death of my business partner and then a car accident all in 1994, which triggered further difficulties with my leg, contributed to a lengthy suspension of my camerawork. 1994 was not a good year!

As far as I am aware, in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, I was the only working professional cameraman with a mobility disability in the world. It is important to point out that I do not mean film-maker, there were, and are, many more people with different severities of disability who were making films during that period. If you think my claim is wrong, please get in touch and tell me why. It, also, means that in comparison to able-bodied professional cameramen, I've not done that much but in comparison to what people thought and told me I was capable of, I've done rather a lot!

Being an only child with a single Mother, I moved back to Bognor Regis. after living in SE London for 24 years, and acted as carer to my elderly and frail mother who suffered from severe vascular dementia. Very sadly, my mother died, at home on the 7th September, 2006 at the age of 94.

However, in 2002, I decided that maybe I wasn't too old, too grey, too much of a BOF or too lazy to start making films again, so I summoned up the courage and spend several thousand pounds on a new camera equipment and got the tripod, lights and mics out of store. And then spent 10 months faffing around trying to find a suitable project which would not interfere with my mother's care

Finally, in October 2003, I started on a new film, "Cycle Writer", following a year in the life of a local photo journalist, click  Cycle Writer on the Net to view

"Cycle Writer" had its premiere on the 26th May 2007.

I intended to make "Cycle Writer" my last film and fully retire in August 2007 to write the provebial book.

But, no chance, click  West Sussex Videos Series to view

In 2009, "Balandis-Lilley Ballet School for the Over 50's" was one of the six shorts nominated for the News Guide Award for Best Local Short Film.

January 2011, finished another short for the West Sussex Video series about the Silk Road restaurant in Littlehampton and an edit only charity promo shot at a Tango class in Spitafields Market in London

I have now added a Canon 60D to my camera collection - click The Photography Years to see recent still photographs

April, 2011, "Valid Persons" the BFI National Archive expressed interest in acquiring this film.

July, 2012, Founded and now organising and directing the first year of the Bill Vinten GTC University Award

October, 2013,  Organised the inaugural Bill Vinten GTC University awards event at the ITV Studios. University Trophy won by the University of York.

November, 2013, Became Chair of the Television and Video Camera Craft Educational Trust.   

May, 2014, Awarded the Mike Baldock Award by the Guild of Television Cameramen. A very great honour.

October, 2014, Produced for the Trust, the second Bill Vinten GTC University awards event at the Heslington Studios, University of York -   the winner of the 2013 University Award

October, 2015 Produced for the Trust, the third Bill Vinten GTC University awards event at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) - the winner of the 2014 University Award

October, 2016 Produced for the Trust, the third Bill Vinten GTC University awards event at the Bournemouth University -   the winner of the 2015 University Award Presented the 2016 University Award to Portsmouth University

Autumn 2016, resigned (effectively sacked by the new Treasurer ) as Chair and Trustee of the Television and Video Camera Craft Educational Trust .  

2019, Currently finishing of WinOut, my new Android game.

October 2019, Finished WinOut, my new Android game. Now waiting for Facebook approval to use their login routines.

November 2019, as it election time, I think it's worth adding that I'm a Remainer and a Labour member - for all the use that is in Bognor Regis!.

While I never made a great deal of money nor made the "one" and have had to sacrifice a rooted personal life, I've thoroughly enjoyed the past 50+ years, and still am, during which I’ve both chased a dream and proved a point.

And the story's not over yet!

Selective list of major productions from 1965 to

Title Credit Type Online Format Length
"West Sussex Videos" series Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary View DVCAM 5 x 3+ mins
"Bognor International Birdman 2007" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary View DVCAM 5 x 9+ mins
"Cycle Writer" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary View Feature DVCAM 90 mins
"Three Cheers for British Industry" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Promotional Video 6 mins
"Survey the Future" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary Video 25 mins
"All in a Days Work" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary Video 30 mins
"Computer Help for Disabled People" co-Author and Photographer Book
"Atomic Machine Code" Author Book
"Valid Persons" Photographer, Editor and Producer Documentary View 16mm Film Eastmancolor 44 mins
"Us and Our Music" Lighting and Producer Documentary Film 25 mins
"Bunkle Butts In" Producer TV Pilot
"New London Libraries" Photographer Documentary A/V
"Tuesday Club" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Music 16mm Film Eastmancolor 12 mins
"Wallys Pitch" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Children Video 10 mins
"View " Photographer* and Producer Documentary Video
"Lambeth Walk" Producer and co-writer Radio Radio 4 10 mins
"New Ideas in Sculpture" Photographer Book
"Task of the Teacher" Photographer Book
"History through Portraits" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary View 16mm Film Eastmancolor 35 mins
"Stockwell '75" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Music 16mm Film Ektachrome 15 mins
"Russell Harty with Trevor MacCallum" Director and Producer TV
"Task of the Teacher" Photographer, Editor and Producer Documentary View 16mm Film Eastmancolor 43 mins
"Firemaid" Producer and Editor Music 16mm Film Ektachrome 25 mins
"Morocco Journey" Photographer*, Editor and Producer Documentary 16mm Film B/W 35 mins

"Photographer" credit in films marked *  means "Cameraman" and "Directed" credits.
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Email:mailme@mckears.com
Copyright 1997- Stuart McKears. All rights reserved.