Night Mail is probably the most well known and along with the Song of Celyon, the most critically acclaimed film to be produced within the British documentary film movement. It was also among the most commercially successful, and remains the film most commonly identified with the movement.The film is an account of the operation of the Royal Mail train delivery service, and shows the various stages and procedures of that operation. A product of collaborative, rather than individual authorship, Night Mail belongs is one of the first experiments with the use of sound, visual style, narrative and editing technique.
Basil Wright, born in 1907, was the first recruit to join John Grierson at the Empire Marketing Board’s film unit in 1930, shortly after he graduated from University of Cambridge. He made a number of films there both as a director and as a producer before leaving the GPO to form his own production company, The Realist Film Unit (RFU). There he directed CHILDREN AT SCHOOL with money from the Gas Industry and The Face of Scotland for The Films of Scotland Committee.
Harry Watt was born in 1906 and he studied at Edinburgh University. After a spell in the Merchant Navy and a number of short-lived industrial jobs, he joined John Grierson at the Empire Marketing Board Film Unit in 1932. While learning the basics of film-making with Grierson in London, Watt also gained valuable experience assisting John Taylor on Robert Flaherty’s film Man of Aran (1934), on location in Ireland.