Copyright Stuart McAlister. All rights reserved.
As a teenager, Stuart joined the Prince Edward Theatre’s lighting crew. Not bad when your first job happened to be “Evita!”. He spent a couple of years commuting to London's West End but returned to his native Surrey where he joined the small and intimate ranks of a Surbiton-based film and TV lighting company. There, he rigged and operated lighting equipment hired by the big boys. His favourite job being 2 weeks on “Monty Python’s Meaning of Life” at Elstree Studios.
The taste for bigger and better toys became too much of a distraction and he moved to Andover, Hampshire, and to Link Electronics. Apart from being the UK's last remaining television camera manufacturer, Link had a sideline department operating "serious" video projectors. These were incorporated into the sets of TV shows such as “Wogan”, “The Late Late Breakfast Show” and “This Is Your Life” - all of which Stuart worked on.
A rival company, Screenco, appeared on the horizon. They operated giant British-made 22 tonne outdoor mobile TV screens. Along with the rest of Link's video team, Stuart was poached and jumped ship to Chessington, Surrey. These screens were used in major sporting and music events and one memorable highlight was “Queen - Live Magic” at Wembley. Google it.
After teaching himself to edit on a VHS suite, Stuart got the editing bug and joined an independent production facility in Teddington. He sat in the dark, editing VTs for all sorts of people and across a wide variety of topics: short-form documentary, pop promos and corporate.
His next move was to broadcast television news in Westminster. Here, he worked for London's first independent facilities news company where he shot and edited a colourful range of political subjects for STV, RTE and LWT. He also shot for Central TV’s legendary "Cook Report”. Google that too.
A couple of years later and another move. This time to Isleworth in West London and to Sky News. Having proved himself as an all-rounder, Stuart made several trips to the Balkans and down to South Africa for their landmark 1994 elections.
Shortly after Mandela was sworn in, the offer of a management role in London's EC4 came knocking. Associated Press Television News (APTV as it was known) was launching a brand new agency to rival Reuters and WTN. Before the agency went on air, he taught producers and journalists the finer points of camera operation and editing techniques and, once the agency went live, he cast a scrutineer's eye over the agency’s final output.
Two years later, the AP offered Stuart a freelance contract in Paris. He took it, and was soon engulfed in world events: the death of Lady Diana, the French lifting the Football World Cup and looking into the carnage of the Concorde tragedy. The AP ran out of money and Stuart was released from his contract but rather than come home, he went freelance and spent over a decade working for the BBC, CNN & CNN Sports.
In an effort to diversify, he picked up a stills camera and built close working relationships with The Daily Express, The Daily Telegraph, The Paris International Airshow, The FFG (French Helicopter Association) and umpteen corporate clients.
And 18 years later, Stuart returned to the UK ...