BSC Education

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BSC Education

BY: British Cinematographer


An inspiring new training initiative from the British Society of Cinematographers aims to boost the skills sets of both existing DPs and those breaking into the industry with a series of expert-led events.  

BSC Education, a new committee from the British Society of Cinematographers, held its inaugural Masterclass in late August at the National Film and Television School (NFTS), with guest lecturers Rob Hardy ASC BSC, Sean Bobbitt BSC, Stuart Bentley BSC, Mandy Walker ASC ACS AM and Chris Ross BSC. 

“The aim of the Masterclass programme is to provide a learning experience for existing DPs to hone their skills by hearing from some of the best cinematographers in the world,” explained Chris Ross BSC. “This has been something that myself and others at the BSC have been planning for a few years, with the pandemic acting to delay the start of the initiative. The Masterclasses have been instigated alongside other events such as the BSC x LSA Workshop in October, aimed at 18–25-year-olds, to provide a broad learning experience in cinematography.” 

Finding a host venue for the Masterclass series wasn’t much of a challenge, according to Chair of the Education Committee, Oliver Stapleton BSC, who has been co-head of the Cinematography MA at the NFTS for six years. “The NFTS was the obvious venue. There isn’t another film school in the UK that can provide the level of facilities and resources we have available to us on site in Beaconsfield.”  

BSC Education’s aim for the Masterclasses is to provide a learning experience for existing DPs as they train with some of the world’s best cinematographers  

The first cohort of Masterclass attendees consisted of 25 students, 20% of whom were awarded scholarship places by the BSC to ensure participation. “Making certain we created an event that was as accessible as possible was a key for us,” commented Ross. “With education, it is vital to provide different pathways and routes to encourage engagement. It is paramount that access to the Masterclass series is inclusive, whether that be support to attendees using BSL translators, or engagement with organisations that help with bursaries and travel costs such as ScreenSkills.” 

The weekend Masterclass began with an introductory evening and drinks, where attendees could network and get to know one another and the course coordinators. Saturday’s first session saw Rob Hardy create a scene on the NFTS’ Main Stage focussing on two-camera shooting. Hardy led attendees through the process of how he would approach the scene in terms of camera movement and lighting. Stuart Bentley’s workshop put the spotlight on how to create arresting images with limited resources, lighting with practicals and using camera position and movement to heighten storytelling. Saturday evening was rounded off with a Q&A and screening of Russian Doll with Emmy nominee Ula Pontikos BSC.  

Mandy Walker took on the Sunday morning session, fresh from the success of Elvis, and reflected on her approach to lighting characters and scenes. She brought with her a selection of bespoke lighting units recently used on the forthcoming Disney live-action film Snow White. Walker also invited crew members Josh Laidlaw (electrical best boy) and Phoebe Fraser (DIT) to join the session and answer questions alongside her. The afternoon was split into two workshops, with Sean Bobbitt returning to the fundamentals of lighting with a discussion about questions that changed his approach to cinematography, while Chris Ross took over the Main Stage to explore lens testing and how lens aberrations can transform an image. 

“The patron members of the BSC really came forward to support this event and we are incredibly grateful,” said Ross. “Thanks to Panavision and ARRI, we had two Alexa 35s, two Sony Venices and over 60 lenses to show the students. We also had amazing support from Mission Digital who provided DITs with Live Grade stations upon which our tutors were able to demonstrate their craft. The lighting of Rob’s session was given full gusto by wendylights and dinos from Panalux, and Mandy’s LED-infused session was supported with great generosity by Pinewood MBS. I cannot thank our patrons enough for their long-term dedication to the craft of cinematography.” 

President Chris Ross BSC led a Masterclass session exploring lens testing and how lens aberrations can transform an image 

The next BSC Education event is the BSC x LSA Workshop event on 29-30 October, which is being delivered at the London Screen Academy in partnership with the Digital Orchard Foundation. This two-day workshop will aim to deliver an introduction to cinematography to 75-100 students. 

“We often say, ‘How do we enable young people to become cinematographers?’” said Oliver Stapleton, “but we too often forget that alongside that we need to empower more people to take on the critical roles of gaffers, grips, sparks, operators, focus pullers and so on. We are opening up the industry by showing the next generation of filmmakers the range of varied jobs available. That’s why we’ll be expanding our BSC Education courses in 2023 to include workshops focusing on camera operation, camera assistance, grip, lighting, digital imaging, colour & post, and more.”  

BSC Education will shortly reopen applications for the BSC Mentorship programme, run this year in association with the ACO (Association of Camera Operators). These mentorships will run for six months on a scheme co-ordinated by ScreenSkills.  

“There is always more we can do,” said Ross. “This first series of events is designed to show our commitment to the education of cinematography, a value at the core of the BSC, and I am grateful to the NFTS, our patrons and tutors for giving up their time, space and equipment. Over the next year you will see more BSC Education events and the revamp of the BSC Club so that we can continue to reach out to those who wish to pursue a career in film and to inspire them to join us.” 

The first BSC x LSA Workshop will take place on 29-30 October and the next BSC Masterclass weekend will take place on the 3-4 December. 

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