Michael Rosenberg R.I.P. By Alan Miller
25 October 2015
Sometimes, you are blessed to meet extraordinary people whose force of personality and creative talent have the effect of changing the course of your own life. Michael Rosenberg, who founded Partridge Films in 1974, was certainly one of those people. A true maverick with a creative independence that inspired a great many in the business, Michael blazed a trail with astounding natural history films that won award after award. I believe Michael is still the record holder when it comes to Wildscreen Golden Panda wins.
I was lucky enough to be taken under Michael’s wing during Partridge’s golden age and became one of many recipients of his willingness to support and encourage. I joined Partridge as an assistant sound editor and left nine years later, a writer/director/editor. And that career trajectory is all down to Michael’s talent, support and friendship. Michael was also fiercely independent and showed enormous indifference to those who sought to creatively control him. I remember a FAX machine spewing out pages and pages of notes from American executives, changes to be made to a film still in the edit. Michael’s response to this long, intrusive document was to slide a wastebasket to catch the pages as they chugged out of the machine. I was also lucky enough to spend a lot of time with Michael outside work as we shared a flat in London and Bristol. The oft-quoted cliché about this arrangement was that I once said that he was the perfect flat-mate as he was either absent or unconscious. This glib but diverting line was not strictly true as we had many conversations over the finest wines known to humanity.
When Partridge outgrew its London base, Michael the maverick became Michael the mogul. He was the figurehead of a much larger ship sailing in much more expansive waters. In the early 90s based at HTV TV Centre in Bristol, a Queen’s Award for Export followed and both once competitive companies Partridge and Survival combined and became United Media. Michael’s retirement party in 2001 was a fine affair and it was striking to see just how many people there had been inspired and supported by this giant of the wildlife world. Unique is a word often overused. It’s a perfect word for Michael.
Michael Rosenberg died on the 21st October 2015 after developing cancer and suffering complications from pain relief surgery. Sincere condolences to Jenny and Cathy, his immediate family.
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