The centerpiece of the Andrew Gupta Camera Collection is Mitchell BNC -11. Andrew Gupta recovered the camera from a used camera sale in Japan in 2023. It is, in fact, among the most historic motion picture cameras known to still exist.
BNC-11 was sold to Warner Brothers Pictures on July 15, 1938. It is among the approximately twenty Blimped Newsreel Cameras produced prior to World War II. BNC-11 was one of ten cameras sold to Warner Brothers, and one of the eight BNC cameras at Warner Studios (two were shipped to England) between 1938 and 1946.
Because World War II stopped civilian camera production — between 1938 and 1946 Warner Studios operated with eight BNC units as their primary studio cameras. In fact, this put Warner Brothers ahead of all the competition in the world in terms of camera technology, and competitors like Paramount and MGM could not purchase new BNC cameras until 1946.
Therefore — it is nearly statistically impossible that BNC 11 was not used in the making of Casablanca, Sergeant York, Yankee Doodle Dandy, Mildred Pierce, The Maltese Falcon, The Roaring Twenties, Dark Victory, Kings Row, Santa Fe Trail, Knute Rockne All American, and hundreds of other Warner Brothers films between 1938 and 1946. Knowing exactly which scenes in Casablanca, for example, BNC-11 filmed may or may not be able to be found, but that can only be determined after an exhaustive research project. In June of 2023 Andrew Gupta launched exactly that project.
BNC 11 was legendarily maintained by the Warner Brothers Camera Department until 1990. Never reflexed, never substantially modified. During the quasi-merger with a Japanese corporation in 1990, all the Warner studio production assets (cameras, etc.) were turned over to the new partners. BNC 11 was selected by the Japanese in 1991 because of its perfect movement and ideal condition, taken back to Japan, and converted into an animation camera. The camera is currently a top-of-the-line fully functional 35mm film animation camera. At some point around 2010 35mm film was replaced with digital recordings for professional animation purposes, and the camera was properly stored. BNC 11 and two Warner Brothers’ Mitchell 16 cameras (taken along with BNC 11 in 1991, converted with BNC 11) ended up “packaged” along with other motion picture cameras in an estate sale “public auction” in Japan in April, 2023. Andrew Gupta purchased Mitchell BNC #11, Mitchell 16 #792, and Mitchell 16 #751 and brought them back to the United States in May, 2023.
Andrew Gupta’s plan is the very best possible restoration of BNC 11 to its Warner Brothers Studio condition. However, camera research is currently Andrew Gupta’s top priority and any form of work on the camera will not be permitted until all avenues of research have been exhausted.
BNC-11 is now carefully preserved with dedicated climate controls and security precautions as part of the Andrew Gupta Camera Collection.