Parry, Lew M., 1905-1993

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Parry, Lew M., 1905-1993

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Llewelyn Maddock Parry (1905-1993), known as Lew M. Parry, was British Columbia's most prolific film maker. He was particularly renowned for his industrial films. Born in Lethbridge, Alberta, on October 5th 1905 to Welsh immigrant Henry Miller Parry and his English wife Elsie Ann (nee Brook), Parry became fascinated with motion pictures at an early age. In 1909 his family moved to Nelson B.C. where he watched his father at work as a film projectionist. When the family moved again to Revelstoke in 1910 the boy was a regular at the silent movie showings at the local Star and Empress Theatres. After another move to Vancouver in 1917, Parry began to build the knowledge and skills he would eventually apply to film making. He took private art classes and later, night courses, at the Vancouver School of Art. He also took voice training and tap dancing lessons, and developed a short-lived vaudeville act. While still at school he was allowed to experiment with the equipment of the Daily Sheet Metal Works. He later completed a four year program at the Vancouver Technical School, apprenticed as a tinsmith and worked in the sheet-metal trade for four or five years. On Sept 27th 1930 he married Queenie Lofting in Vancouver. In about 1930 Parry joined Neon Products of Western Canada Ltd. as a designer of neon signs, and two years later became art director. He remained with the company for about sixteen years, devoting his spare time to further developing his knowledge and skills in drama and film with the aim of becoming a film maker. In the early 1930s he joined the Vancouver Little Theatre Association and served as art director and set designer from about 1933 to about 1947. In the mid 1930s he designed for, wrote and directed a few “screen ads” for Motion Screenadz Ltd. owned by Leon C. Shelly, a former associate from Neon Products. In 1936 he married Evelyn Hood Parry in Vancouver. During the Second World War Neon Products secured large contracts to produce specialized equipment for the war effort and Parry developed training films to instruct the large numbers of workers required for these projects. In May 1944 he left Neon Products to begin his career in film, joining Vancouver Motion Pictures as production manager but choosing to remain in Vancouver when the company relocated to Toronto. In 1945 he purchased a film studio at 1685 W. First Ave in Vancouver and on October 9th 1945 incorporated Trans-Canada Films Ltd. In 1946 he completed the film Vancouver Diamond Jubilee with the support of the B.C. Electric Company. This was the first of more than 70 films Parry would produce for the company and its successor, B.C. Hydro. This association launched his career as an industrial film maker and led to work for other prominent clients such as Alcan, MacMillan Bloedel, Marwell Construction, Trans-Canada Airlines and the National Film Board, as well as other companies based in Alberta and Quebec. Trans-Canada Films Ltd. was taken over in 1948 by Don Coltman and Wally Hamilton and eventually turned into a film-processing laboratory. That year Parry bought out North American Productions Ltd. on 2nd Ave in Vancouver, and operated as Lew Parry Film Productions. The studios were later relocated to larger premises on Broadway Avenue. On April 7th 1954 he incorporated a production company called Parry Films Limited (BC Company incorporation number 31697) and in 1956 constructed a film studio on Capilano Road in North Vancouver. On April 29th 1954 Parry, with Homer Powell and CKWZ sound engineer Dave Pomeroy, incorporated a sync-sound film recording, dubbing and editing company called Telesound Film Recordings Limited (BC incorporation number 31806, dissolved September 26th, 1988). With the advent of television Parry started North of 53 TV Limited (BC Company incorporation number 44942, dissolved October 15th 1970), which filmed a pilot episode for a half-hour television series North of 53 in 1959. In 1963 Parry was co-producer and location manager for several episodes of the television program The Littlest Hobo that were shot at his studio by Canamac Pictures. He sold Parry Films Limited in 1963 but continued to make films into the 1970s as a freelance producer under the name Lew Parry Film Productions Ltd. (BC Company incorporation number 63563; incorporated February 25th 1965; dissolved August 17th 1981). When B.C. Hydro started its own internal film unit, Parry was brought on staff, running the department from 1975 to 1978. Lew M. Parry died on May 13th, 1993.


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