Stephen Tallents’s first connection with documentary film was as Secretary of the Empire Marketing Board (EMB). Established in 1926, the EMB was intended to promote the marketing of products of the British Empire and to encourage research and development among the member states. The broader purpose implicit from the outset was to substitute for the decaying military and political ties of empire the economic ones of a commonwealth of nations. Tallents saw that the motion picture might be a valuable tool in this new and unique governmental public relations endeavor. The first EMB film production misfired, how-
ever. It was a sort of fantasy of empire suggested by Rudyard Kipling and executed by Walter Creighton entitled One Family and subtitled A Dream of Real Things. Begun in 1926, it was not released until 1930 and generated little enthusiasm. The EMB’s true start on film production, and
what would become the documentary film movement, began in 1927 when Tallents interviewed John Grierson, just returned to Britain from a four-year sojourn in the United States. Much taken with Grierson’s ideas about the use of film communication by governments to their citizens, Tallents hired him in an unofficial advisory capacity.