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Author Topic: Derek Cameron - Dominion Cinema Edinburgh RIP
Pete Naples
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From: Dunfermline, Scotland
Registered: Feb 2001

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Scotsman newspaper obituary

Obituary: Derek Cameron, Owner of the Dominion Cinema

Published Date: 10 August 2011
By Alasdair Steven
Cinema owner who ensured 'the Dom' stayed at the heart of Edinburgh life
Derek Cameron, Owner of the Dominion Cinema, Edinburgh.
Born: 1934, in Edinburgh.
Died: 7 August, 2011, in Edinburgh.

DEREK Cameron continued a family tradition that had started when his father bought a site in Edinburgh's New
battle Street in Morningside in 1937. Captain WM Cameron built the grand Dominion Cinema in 16 weeks at a cost of £25,000. Over the next 70 years, the Dominion maintained a special place in the hearts of generations of cinema-goers and under Cameron's astute management it changed with the times as it continued to welcome new generations to its plush interior.

Cameron qualified as a projectionist after National Service and was involved with running the Dominion since the mid-1950s.

He could recall the excitement of the opening night at what was then called a "picture house". Indeed, he was so nervous he spilt his orange squash on the polished linoleum.

Then there was smoking, which was permitted throughout the showing of the film. "During The Guns of Navarone," Cameron recalled years later, "there was a point when the tension would mount to such a degree that everyone would light up at once and you would see this great pall of smoke rising up."

Cameron retained the original guidelines set out by his father. On opening night after welcoming the audience, the captain stated: "The policy of the cinema is maximum comfort, courtesy and to strive for and achieve the best possible service for our patrons."

While all the other cinemas in Edinburgh have been absorbed into large companies, the Dominion has remained independent and owned by the Cameron family. But Cameron faced competition from other cinemas in the capital. When, for example, the large ABC in Lothian Road divided into a complex of three smaller cinemas Cameron, with his 1,360-seater cinema realised he had to take serious action to survive in business.

He pressed forward with reconstructing the interior of his beloved Dominion with a keen eye to the business possibilities. He created a new cinema in 1972, Cinema 3 in 1980 and Cinema 4 in 1997. Then came, in 1984, the Spool Room Restaurant.

Cameron had to face the onslaught of first television, then video then DVD and CD. But throughout his years in charge, he moved with the times and kept the Dominion a major force in the cinema in Scotland.

Cameron was rigid in his policy of what he showed at the Dominion. It stuck to the tradition of showing films that would attract family audiences. It has never shown X-rated films and to celebrate the cinema's Silver Jubilee in 1963, there was a matinee showing of The Castaways for 600 crippled children.

Cameron had a shrewd knowledge of what would work at the Dominion and understood just what his loyal audience would pay to come and see.

A moment of much distinction came in 2006 when the independent film maker Ian Rintoul made a 45-minute feature
Click to learn more...
about the cinema's history. Rintoul himself said in an introduction: "It's the story of the Dominion's life, from 1938 up to the moment. It's been an epic battle of survival." It was screened at the Dominion during the Edinburgh Film Festival

Cameron handed over the running of the company to his sons Mike and Al and his daughter Lesley in 1996 and they have continued the tradition of modernising the cinema and keeping apace with he latest trends. Cameron did not, however, reduce his interests in Morningside affairs. In 2008, he was there to celebrate the Dominion's 70th anniversary when it screened Alfred Hitchcock's The Lady Vanishes, which was released in 1938.

Cameron got to know many of the great stars of Hollywood when they visited the Dominion. There are still photographs in the cinema of Cameron - invariably dressed in kilt - welcoming them to the Morningside cinema. There is the smooth Cary Grant in 1961 beaming and in Edinburgh to promote his film The Grass is Greener. "He was charming" Cameron recalled. "But then all the stars I have met have all been, obviously, charming.".

Other stars Cameron welcomed through the doors at Newbattle Street included Dame Judi Dench, Billy Connolly ("a pussycat" Cameron remembered), Jude Law, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Fry and Alan Cumming.

But it was the cinema and films that were central to Cameron's life. At the showing of the film about the Dominion, he said: "The Dom, as we are affectionately known, is a proud old lady having earned and retained respect throughout tempestuous times."

That much-loved building at the heart of Morningside is indeed a proud old lady. A much-loved local friend and that is Derek Cameron's legacy.

Cameron was awarded an MBE in 1999 for services to the entertainment industry in Scotland. He is survived by his wife, two sons and a daughter.

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