David Millin

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David Millin (b. Cape Town, 11/06/1920 - d. Johannesburg, 26/05/1999) was a cameraman, director, producer, writer.

Also referred to as Dave Millin.


David Millin was born in Cape Town in 1920 to Harry Millin and his wife, Millie (born Urdang). He was educated at Selborne College in East London, the city where his father had taken over the Royal Hotel. In 1937 he settled in Johannesburg and as a young man he worked in a garage, was a window display assistant, worked for wholesale jewellers, and sold cameras and projectors, but in 1941 he had an opportunity to enter the film industry when he joined African Film Productions. Initially he was in the props department, but then became an assistant to cameraman G.F. Noble and subsequently became a fully-fledged cameraman himself.

Like everyone else, he contributed to the African Mirror newsreel and worked on a range of documentaries directed by the likes of Joseph Albrecht, Kurt Baum and Emil Nofal. His first feature as cinematographer was Zonk! (Hyman Kirstein/1950) and the following year he handled the second unit photography on two prestigious British productions, Where No Vultures Fly (Harry Watt) and Cry, the Beloved Country (Zoltan Korda). On the first he was joined by his nephew, Roscoe C. Behrmann, as uncredited 3rd assistant director. Amongst the features he shot were Emil Nofal’s Song of Africa (1952) and two films by Bladon Peake, Hans-die-Skipper (1952) and Inspan (1953). A documentary he directed for the State Information Office, Guardians of the Soil (1955), was shown at the Cannes Film Festival.

In 1956, Millin and Behrmann left African Film Productions to form their own production company, David Millin Productions. They had an American television deal to produce a half-hour series entitled Stories out of Africa and after the contract expired the company produced television commercials for Rhodesian television and training shorts for government departments and the mining industry. The first feature in which the company was involved was Donker Afrika (1957), which was a co-production with Al Debbo, and this was followed by nine other features, amongst them Seven Against the Sun (1964), adapted from the novel and stage play by James Ambrose Brown, and Majuba, Hill of Doves (1968), based on a novel by Stuart Cloete. Most of these films were production deals with S.A. Screen Productions, Killarney Film Studios or 20th Century Fox (all the same company under different names at different times).

In 1966 Millin and Behrmann decided to fold David Millin Productions and joined a new record company called RPM Records. They formed RPM Film Studios to produce features and documentaries for both the local and the world market. The first of these films was Shangani Patrol (1970), but after only eighteen months they agreed to be bought out by their partners. Millin continued in the film industry as DeeMillin Productions. In between his own productions he continued to shoot films for others, including two features for visiting American director Robert D. Webb, namely Escape Route Cape Town and The Jackals (both 1967), and The Diamond Mercenaries (1975) for Val Guest. He produced many of the films he directed and served as executive producer on Sell a Million (Ian Hamilton/1975).

In 1972 he was elected to membership of the American Society of Cinematographers and this was followed by the M-Net Lifetime Achievement Award in 1994 and the SASC/Kodak Lifetime Achievement Award in 1997. He had married Zelda Rosenberg in 1945 and they had two daughters, Melanie and Heather. (FO)


Features as Director

Donker Afrika (1957), Last of the Few (1960), Stropers van die Laeveld (1962), Death Drums Along the River / Sanders (2nd unit with Roscoe C. Behrmann) (Lawrence Huntington/1963), Seven Against the Sun (1964), Ride the High Wind / African Gold (1965), The Second Sin (1966), Majuba: Hill of Doves / Majuba: Heuwel van Duiwe (1968), Petticoat Safari (1969), Banana Beach (1970), Shangani Patrol (1970), Die Banneling (1971), Met Moed, Durf en Bloed / The Brave! The Rough! The Raw! (1972), Die Voortrekkers (1973), Suster Teresa (1974).

Features as Scriptwriter

Last of the few (with Donald Cohen) (1960), Stropers van die Laeveld (with Gert van den Bergh) (1962), Seven Against the Sun (1964), Ride the High Wind / African Gold (1965), Majuba: Hill of Doves / Majuba: Heuwel van Duiwe (1968), Met Moed, Durf en Bloed / The Brave! The Rough! The Raw! (1972).

Features as Cinematographer

Zonk! (Hyman Kirstein/1950), Where No Vultures Fly / Ivory Hunter (2nd unit) (Harry Watt/1951), Cry, the Beloved Country (2nd unit with Peter Lang) (Zoltan Korda/1951), Song of Africa (Emil Nofal/1952), Hans-die-Skipper (Bladon Peake/1952), Inspan (Bladon Peake/1953), ‘n Plan is ‘n Boerdery (Pierre de Wet/1954), Donker Africa (David Millin/1957), Diamond Safari (with Peter Lang) (Gerald Mayer/1958), Last of the Few (David Millin/1960), Stropers van die Laeveld (David Millin/1962), Escape Route Cape Town / The Cape Town Affair (Robert D. Webb/1967), The Jackals (Robert D. Webb/1967), Die Banneling (David Millin/1971), The Diamond Mercenaries / Killer Force (Val Guest/1975).

Documentaries as Director

Vanishing Africa (1948), Guardians of the Soil / Bewaarders van die Grond (1955), Smoke of a Thousand Villages (1972).

Documentaries as Cinematographer

White Harvest / Wit Oes (with Merl LaVoy) (1944), Back to the Land (with G.F. Noble, Frank Dixon & Ken Sara) (1945), After Sixty Years / Na Sestig Jaar (with G.F. Noble, Albert Carrick & Gerald Ehrlich) (Joseph Albrecht/1946), Riches of the Veld (William Colleran/1948), Arches of Faith / ‘n Volk Se Erfenis (with Frank Dixon, Italo Bernicchi, J. Wagner & Peter Lang) (Kurt Baum/1949), Zebediela: Monument to a Pioneer / Zebediela: Monument vir ‘n Baanbreker (with Peter Lang & Frank Dixon) (Hyman Kirstein/195*), The Twenty Thousand / Die Twintig-Duisend (with Hans Wagner) (Emil Nofal/1953), The Call of the Karroo (with Hans Wagner) (Emil Nofal/1954).

Documentaries for Television

The Visionaries: National Monuments Council (Cinematographer & Director) (1983), Battlefields (TV series) (Producer & Director) (1990)


My father David Millin - Melanie Millin (Stage & Cinema, 24 November 1967)

Correspondence with Roscoe C. Behrmann



Showbiz, May 1973: p. 19.

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