David Tomblin

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  • i had the honour of working with/under David Tomblin on the making of "Zulu Dawn". apart from our director (2nd unit) he became our mentor as well. i have since worked on smaller productions, but david's influence remained supreme.

    10
    "ZULU DAWN" completed only by David Tomblin's deftness ...

    i joined the crew of "zulu dawn" (1978) in my hometown of mGungundlovu - after serving 3 years in political detention under the suppressive/repressive south african regime of old.

    i was recommended for this position - albeit with strict conditions. i had to enlist under my family name and not my adopted name of "sharif shah-bilal" which i had to keep from everyone on set ...

    when david tomblin and peter mcdonald (2nd unit camera director) heard several people on set call me by my muslim name; they questioned me as to why i was using "owen"? when i told them of the conditions under which i was hired, they exploded. david had me go to personnel and change all my hiring records to show myself as sharif shah-bilal - for my checking account too was under this name.

    not only that, but my position as part of the crew was upgraded - as was my salary. half-way into shooting, this was again upgraded, for my responsabilites had grown; from hair and make-up, to zulu interpreter/zulu liaison and in the final days of shooting - a zulu impi (warrior) extra.

    throughout the three months of shooting, david tomblin took me under his wing - served as my mentor and guide.

    whenever there was any dispute regarding regarding job description or responsabilities, david was always there to see to the well-being of his crew. he became a truly kindly - fatherly figure with his nurturing manner to many on the vast crew.

    towards the end of shooting (the budget grossly overdrawn) it was david tomblin who gathered the crew and selected a skeleton crew to complete the final days of shooting - much of it entailing reshooting many hashed up scenes by the 1st unit, through that directors inefficiency and peter o'tooles incompetency.

    again, i was selected to extend my services, as without me, the movie would never have been completed. (this is a whole different topic)

    after the whole project had been completed - safely sent off "in the can" david tomblin made a very serious offer to me. if i chose to, he'd send me off to film-school in the UK - to study whatever it was i chose - all found - out of his own pocket.

    never had anyone expressed such confidence and belief in me in my life. although i declined; i have never forgeotten this giant of a man for his sincerity and ability to stand up to the plate and come to the fore ... as only david tomblin has become known to present himself.

    we salute you oh great one ... you will be sorely missed - by one and all ...