Cameraman who built them


Mike Ferra, a camera operator who developed the Ferraflex line of cameras that are used in action film chase sequences, died March 4 in Los Angeles after a prolonged illness. He was 74.

Ferra landed a grip job at Warner Bros. in 1963 and became an assistant cameraman in the mid-'70s. As he moved up to camera operator, Ferra saw the need for specialized cameras and housings to meet the needs of action shoots, and he founded Ferraflex Minicam Systems Inc.

The tiny cameras with miniature film magazines can be mounted over the actor's shoulder to get reaction shots of the character he's talking to, attached to the end of a wand for low-angle shots or tucked away in a concealed location. Crash-protection mounts are designed for use in close-ups of vehicle collisions.

The versatile system brought Ferra work as a second unit director of photography on movies and TV shows including "Meteor," "Below Utopia," "Flashfire," "The Mountain Men" and "Baby Makes Six."

He also worked with such figures as Steve McQueen, Sean Connery and Farrah Fawcett in an uncredited role.

Ferra's cameras continue to be used for action films and TV through Alan Gordon Enterprises Inc.