STK-ID 76908

FI12815.013 Mosaic re-recording track A 35mm with McLaren’s “black electrical tape” used to block out unwanted sounds. 550 ft Norman had this admirable habit of using black electrical tape to block out unwanted sound or image (saved spending money on reshooting – he would have said it was the Scottishness in him). But it worked. McLaren removed sounds at the behest of mixer Ron Alexander, the NFB’s “resident cocktail pianist” according to Norman. Alexander persuaded Norman that his “scratches” were too many, all Mickey-Moused to the picture. Norman always spoke with deep respect and affection for Alexander; and said that the track of MOSAIC was really Ron’s. I (Don McWilliams) met Alexander twice and found him a true gentleman, modest about his achievements. I wondered (but forebore from asking him) if it had been difficult for him as the first black member of Production at the NFB. How Alexander came to the NFB is an interesting story. He was working as a porter for the Canadian Pacific Railway during the summer while studying engineering at the University of Western Ontario. Alexander's charm and politeness as a porter impressed Grierson’s wife, who happened to be a passenger. She told Alexander if he was ever in Ottawa to go to the NFB and ask for her husband and “we'll see that you get considered for a job.” This he did and he was given a job. I believe that he began as an assistant cameraman, graduating to cameraman, and ultimately became a sound mixer (his real strength) and mixed something like 300 films for the NFB, before leaving to become a professor at Stanford teaching film sound.


Excerpt from
Norman McLaren's Archives and Personal Files
McLaren Collection