Article from 20th March 2003


Skeletons in OFU’s cupboard

There’s something quite distressing about ogling a trailer load of scantily-clad women and then realising that, by now, they must be old enough to be your mother. That was the experience that a few of us Oscar Film Unit members had when we decided to sit down and watch the stacks of old films that lurked at the back of lecture theatre G.

Scantily-clad women

It might surprise you to know Surrey’s oldest film society – Oscar Film Unit – is older than the University itself, and on those reels of old film is the evidence to prove it. Although OFU has been better known in recent years for showing films, it used to spend most of its time making films, especially in the days when the University of Surrey was still Battersea College.

The scantily-clad women in question, I should perhaps explain, were being paraded through Guildford on the back of a lorry before being sold to townsfolk as part of 1969’s Rag Week Slave Market. And that’s only some of the shenanigans those sixties students got up to – they can also be seen strutting through Sainsbury’s in wetsuits harpooning packets of fish fingers, floating down the Wey on a lilo in the snow, and watching Deep Purple at the Civic Hall. It’s a pity the film is silent!

But there are more gems on those reels. We found footage of the construction of Battersea and Surrey Courts, lecturers dressing up as a pantomime cow and parading around campus, bed races through Battersea, and the ‘OFU Sex Film’, a DIY porn film shot in a Stag Hill Court bedroom. Shot in a Stag Hill Court bedroom from the knee downwards, I might add.

All these bits of Surrey’s history had been lurking in a cupboard at the back of LTG whilst we were busy projecting the latest Hollywood blockbuster. When we finally got round to watching them we realised that we had been sitting on a bit of Surrey’s history that could so easily have remained hidden away for another thirty years before anyone decided to give them a wider audience. Many of the films were starting to decay, so myself and a few other past OFUers have set ourselves the task of transferring them to video and CD-ROM for others to share.
If you want to know more about the films we found, then visit www.xillennia.com/films/ofu email :andy@xillennia.com.

As you may know, OFU has recently got back in to film making, producing modern classics such as Jaws In The Library and River Sports Day 2000. Who knows, in thirty years time someone may be rummaging at the back of Lecture Theatre G and find footage of you!

Andy Gale

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Read more about OFU here


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