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David is best known as a film-maker for his intimate observational documentaries, (Gutted, This Mine is Ours, Me and My Face, Life’s Too Short, Please Leave The Light On, etc.) The shooting of these films as a director-cameraman developed from his early years as a film-cameraman in the 1970s when he shot major documentaries.
This wide-ranging experience as a cameraman would find him fuelled by adrenalin on the streets of Northern Ireland during the Troubles, or chasing World Rally cars from helicopters. Action and physical shoots became a speciality, including The Legend of Los Tayos in the Amazonian jungle, the last documentary made by Bill Forsyth before he embarked on his feature film career.
On a more cerebral note, he shot a number of arts films for cinema and television with the talented Scottish film-maker, Murray Grigor, (The Hand of Adam, Frank Lloyd Wright, Blast!). Murray also had the vision to bring to the screen the first two films featuring Billy Connolly (Clydescope, Big Banana Feet) which David shot as well.
The transition to directing and film-making came through the support and enthusiasm of producer Steve Clark-Hall. This included the great learning curve of delivering a weekly programme, Years Ahead, right from the opening days of Channel Four in 1982.
Not only has David left a wonderful archive of documentaries but his photography too is making its mark posthumously. An Eye on the Street, a portfolio of photographs shot in Glasgow in 1968, is now recognised for its archival importance and 40 of the images are held in the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh. An Eye on the World is David’s collection of stills taken over 40 years and shows his remarkable sense of humour as well has his compassionate nature. Retrospectives have been held in both Glasgow and Edinburgh and there are now books of both portfolios.
In his final years David sought to pass on his knowledge and skills to his younger colleagues through training courses within the BBC. He died in April 2012 and is missed hugely by everyone who knew him.