Louis Clark de Rochemont
Life in Elmbridge
Towards the end of the 1930's, a couple of years before the start of World War II, de Rochemont was seen around Elmbridge working on some of his own film productions. He worked at Brooklands, making films and studies of the groundbreaking aviation and motor racing that took place there. This was in preparation for the film 'The Fighting Lady' which imaginatively combined aerial combat footage of World War II in the Pacific with some private 16mm film made by aircraft carrier pilots for personal viewing only. The film was blown up to 35mm for release. At Brooklands de Rochemont tested many aircrafts for this film, and the preparatory work he did here was crucial to the success of his award-winning movie. Brooklands at this time was a popular destination in England, as it was the birthplace of motor racing and held several Grand Prix events. It was also a key centre of aviation, and many of the planes flown in World War Two were built and tested here. When World War II broke out in 1939, motor racing stopped and the site was turned over to war-time production of many military aircrafts. Unfortunately the track was damaged during this time by enemy bombing and sections were also covered by dispersal hangars. Racing never returned to Brooklands.
Life outside of Elmbridge
Louis Clark de Rochemont was born in the United States, brought up and partly educated in Massachusetts, before moving onto a variety of institutes and schools, one of them being Harvard's Naval Cadet School. From here de Rochemont moved to Britain where he worked for the British Military Intelligence. A couple of years later he became an Officer for the U.S Navy.
In 1923, de Rochemont had quite a career change. He became a professional cameraman for International and Pathé News. Deciding he wanted to work more independently, and fuelled by his passion for journalism and media, de Rochemont went on to produce a radio show called 'March of the Years' (admitting his inspiration from the 'Time's' original radio show 'The March of Time'). It was then determined that de Rochemont would be the ideal person to take 'The March of Time' to the screen, due to his experience at Fox Movietone and his penchant for film-rebirth. While working on this series, he also helped out on other films, such as a documentary called 'The First World War'. He even independently produced his compilation documentary 'The Cry of the World' described as "a powerful indictment of war and oppression,".
De Rochemont was a major producer and director, and could be quite a controversial film-maker. He was also the first to try many stunts with a camera, revolutionising the news reel in the process. He won two Academy Awards in his career; the first for 'The Fighting Lady', which owed much of its success to Brooklands in Weybridge.