Alumni Memories University

What’s OFU up to these days?

It’s suddenly become clear, in the wake of a veritable deluge of responses about the proposed Christmas lunch, that many OFU alumni haven’t got the faintest idea what’s going on with the society these days, nor how it got there.

“With more than 400 members, OFU is surely one of the biggest and most exciting societies on campus.”

That’s what I had to say in a Barefacts article celebrating OFU’s breathtaking 2000-2001 season. Then I quickly and quietly left the university before I had a chance to be proven wrong.

What follows is a distillation of OFU history in easy-to-digest nuggets. If you have any information that can help fill in the blanks, please leave a comment on this blog or email us.

1955: OFU’s earliest documented film – for the BBC, no less.

1967: OFU’s earliest surviving film – Rag ’67.

OFU logo - transparent
Oscar Film Unit logo

1969-1974ish: OFU’s golden era of filmmaking under Robert Lenk et al: Enter The Newt and Boy With A Moon And Star On His Head.

1972ish: OFU logo designed by Gail Edwards. Still in use today.

1970s: OFU showing films in LT-D.

1980s: OFU showing films in parallel with Stag Hill Film Club. OFU helps bail out SHFC financially.

1990s: OFU showing arts films to the public in association with the university (trading as University Arts Cinema). By now, OFU has moved out of LT-D and calls LT-G home instead.

Early 1990s: First serious attempt to move to 35mm abandoned.

Early 1990s: Some films produced on video. No true filmmaking capability at this time.

1995ish: First year that OFU fails to make an operating profit. Latenighters etc. stop around this time.

1998: Union strongly advocating moving OFU to video projection in the Helyn Rose (Lower) Bar. Rejected.

1999: OFU acquires 16mm, Super-8 and 8mm cameras and resumes film production.

2000: Faced with growing competition from USSU (which shows its own video-projected films – for free – every week), OFU promotes itself by projecting South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut against the side of the Duke Of Kent (EIHMS) Building. Air Traffic Control phones to complain.

2001: Filmbank ceases 16mm distribution. OFU launches second serious attempt to move to 35mm.

2001: OFU acquires Vic8 35mm/70mm projector from the Millennium Dome sale and swaps it with Union Films Southampton’s Vic5 35mm projector.

2001: OFU demerges into filmmaking society and a new amenity, Surrey Student Cinema. Film exhibition outside of the main Union building ceases.

2002-????: OFU making films on DV.

2003: USSU effectively kills SSC by refusing to support its 35mm proposal, as laid out in 2001.

2005: USSU reportedly commences disposal of OFU’s assets, such as its 16mm Fumeo studio projector.

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