The research & writing on this site is by photographer Robert Catto, a Canadian / New Zealander, now based in Sydney Australia.
I became fascinated with Rupert Julian in 2002, when I first heard about him on Scott MacQueen's commentary track on the (1943!) Phantom Of The Opera DVD. He made a passing remark about the original Phantom being directed by 'the son of a New Zealand sheep farmer', and I had to pause the film to see if I could find out what he was talking about.
I'd been living in NZ for five years, and thought if there was anything to this story, I'd have heard about it by then; but, as it turned out, he was right - and no-one in New Zealand seemed to know about it.
I did a little digging, which turned into a lot of digging; and in the years since then, I've met members of his family - some of whom were as startled as I was to find out about his life.
I've spent a lot of hours in libraries and archives, finding mausoleums and searching out addresses where he used to live, in New Zealand, Australia and America. And, of course, a fair bit of searching the internet as well.
Along the way, a number of people have been very generous and helpful - so of course I would like to thank them here (with apologies to anyone I've missed, send me a note or a tweet and I'll add you!):
- The Hayes family
- Marc Wanamaker at Bison Archives, Los Angeles
- Scott MacQueen & American Cinematographer
- Galen Wilkes at the Margaret Herrick Library (LA) & Carla Laemmle
- Kevin Brownlow & Photoplay Productions
- Barbara Lyon & the Turnbull Library & National Library of New Zealand teams
- Craig Nicholson & Pecha Kucha Wellington
- Mark Cubey & Kim Hill at Radio New Zealand
- Bill Gosden at the New Zealand Film Festivals
- Bill Sheat & David Carson-Parker
And of course I would love to hear from anyone with information about Rupert - or, indeed, his wife Elsie! I do keep hoping I'll find some of her family here in Sydney, one day.