Christopher Ross BSC: “Celebrate, educate, and collaborate”

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Christopher Ross BSC: “Celebrate, educate, and collaborate”

BY: Christopher Ross BSC

As the BSC marks its 75th anniversary, Christopher Ross BSC reflects on the Society’s history and celebrates the shared vision of a special creative community that continues to inspire and educate the next generation of filmmakers. 


1. a special anniversary of an event, especially one celebrating twenty-five or fifty years of a reign or activity. 
“to celebrate her jubilee, the Queen held a celebration banquet” 

2. JUDAISM: a year of emancipation and restoration, kept every fifty years. 

3. a period of remission from the penal consequences of sin, granted by the Roman Catholic Church under certain conditions for a year, usually at intervals of twenty-five years. 

Happy New Year to you all. Blessings and prosperity for 2024! Although by the time you are reading this, the year will no longer be new, but there are still many causes for celebration.   

There is a milestone birthday – 29 January 2024 marked the 75th anniversary of the lunch that would instigate the birth of the British Society of Cinematographers, created with an initial contingent of 55 cinematographer members. Those present at that lunch elected Freddie Young BSC to stand as the first President of the Society, with Guy Green BSC as Vice-President, Bert Easey BSC as Secretary/Treasurer and Jack Cardiff ASC BSC, Lovat Cave-Chinn BSC, Desmond Dickinson BSC, and Derick Williams BSC elected to form the rest of the Board. 

Creating an organisation of this kind from scratch must have required a herculean effort and shows an astonishing act of collaboration from a group of filmmakers who were more regularly in fierce competition with each other. Spurred on by the successful formation of the ASC across the pond in 1919, the visionary behind this coordinated effort was Bert Easey BSC, then head of the camera at the Denham and Pinewood Studio. The shared vision of the group was to create a non-political guild or society, made up of narrative feature film cinematographers in the UK, with four primary objectives: 

  • To promote and encourage the pursuit of the highest standards in the craft of Motion Picture Photography. 
  • To further the applications by others of the highest standards in the craft of Motion Picture Photography and to encourage original and outstanding work. 
  • To co-operate with everyone whose aims and interests are wholly or in part related to those of the society. 
  • To provide facilities for social intercourse between the members and arrange lectures, debates, and meetings calculated to further the objects of the Society. 

In tribute to these cinematographers’ legacy, the calendar of the BSC continues to be packed with screenings, masterclasses, and networking events – the highlight of which is previewed within this edition, BSC Expo 2024. Please join us in the hallowed halls of Evolution in Battersea Park for this year’s deep dive into the world of innovation and technological development. 

Retrospective journeys through the memory of previous Expos is like an illuminated hallway of the last 30 years in the museum of cinema. Every milestone of technical achievement has been seen on the stands of the exhibition hall, and this year’s edition will be no exception. 

The preceding 75 years have seen revolutionary technological changes within the industry: the invention and ubiquity of television, the migration away from the singularity of celluloid acquisition, and the rise of streaming services with their portable viewing devices. The Society, its members and the filmmaking community have evolved with each technological milestone and continue to do so, each challenge gracefully overcome like the last. But despite this upheaval and revolution, the original objectives of the Society remain steadfast; a tribute to the enduring power of the community of cinematography and the family of filmmaking. Join us throughout the next 12 months as we commemorate this anniversary with a year-long celebration of the craft of cinematography and its practitioners. 

Fittingly, it was in line with the spirit of all four objectives that the first event of the year was held on behalf of the Society by the Education Committee – a two-day “Introduction to Cinematography” workshop for 80 fledgling filmmakers in collaboration with the London Screen Academy. Over two days BSC, ACO, and GBCT members and guests delivered a series of hands-on workshops, tutor-led exercises and seminar panels for young cine-literate participants.  

Hailing from the four corners of the UK, the attendees were introduced to the many departments that come together to bring a film’s visual landscape to life, with separate focus on camera, lighting, grip, DIT, and post-production technologies. A personal thank you for helping to deliver this inspirational initiative must go to cinematographer Billy Abbott and Laura Boswell from the London Screen Academy for the co-ordination and human-resourcing of such a large-scale event, and to each one of the talented filmmakers, crew members and technologists from the Guilds who answered the call and gave their time and energy in pursuit of the education of others.  

I can think of no greater show of respect for our great craft, and the legacy of our founding members, than the willingness to inspire and teach the next generation. 

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