BSC Expo Pinewood Studios London 2015 ~ Report from David Lewis ACS

BSC Expo ~ Day 1

It all started with a surprise phone call from President Ron Johanson last week asking :

“Can you attend the BSC Expo in London next week at Pinewood Studios in London and represent the ACS, Panavision Australia will help with the airfares and expenses”.

Not having been to Pinewood and having been told so many wonderful stories about the many films that have been made there, off I went with no hesitation.

After many years of filming around the world at some of the major studios it’s great that I still get excited at having the opportunity to walk onto a studio lot, what a fantastic job we have as cinematographers!

Pinewood didn’t disappoint me, passing by the huge 007 Bond Stage, down Goldfinger Avenue now heading towards the Richard Attenborough Stage, I could feel and easily imagine the film history that now surrounded me.

Outside the stage there were four huge mobile cranes suspending a huge wire operated remote head with all it’s workings as well as a giant Techno crane. It was fascinating to stand and watch technology at work on a sunny but cold English day.

Going inside the studio it was packed wall to wall with all sorts of new toys. The major suppliers had their stands with all their equipment on display for everyone to have a hands on experience of their products, as well as many smaller companies eager to promote their own new and sometimes very innovative products.

There was a great emphasis on moving the camera. From remote heads, hand held gyro kits, small tracking vehicles with telescopic arms, slider kits and to the very simple ground level push dollies with stabilized heads that could get into very restricted places.

LED lighting was heavily featured. Round ones, square ones, light panels of all sizes, huge fluoro light boxes on pulleys that could go up and down, tilt, dim, change color etc as well as large balloon lights of every imaginable shape that could fit anywhere and be easily adjustable. The 18K HMI on a lift crane with its own remote head looked pretty ordinary compared to these new toys.

It’s amazing how far new technology has enabled us as cinematographers to do things now that were almost impossible just a few years ago.

After lunch I attended a forum of major cinematographers

Billy Williams OBE BSC (Ghandi),
Sean Bobbitt BSC (12 Years A Slave),
Barry Akroyd BSC (The Hurt Locker),
Haris Zambarloukas BSC (Mama Mia).

The session was moderated by Ron Prince (Editor BSC Magazine).

They openly discussed their experiences of working on both the big major pictures as well as the smaller independent ones.

Surprisingly they all preferred to work on the smaller budget productions as they felt it was necessary to be more innovative, work faster and stick to their true roots as they had all started their careers working on documentaries and low budget films.

They also felt that as the cinematographer they could have a greater input into telling the story and getting the directors vision onto the screen.

On some of the larger productions they felt that although there was much more money and time the story was sometimes lost and not always more money meant a better film.

An hour well spent and very inspiring.

David Lewis ACS

Next off to the John Barry Theatre to experience some new ARRI 65 mm footage shown on a 4K projector, fantastic images. Although this camera is very new and not had much production time it was very impressive.

Another day tomorrow when I will visit the BSC clubhouse at Pinewood as guest of Nigel Walters BSC (Vice president BSC and President of IMAGO) a wonderful host who along with Frances Russell and the BSC have made me very welcome.

I have taken many pictures and will present these at the next Thurs Drop In (NSW) in March.

BSC Expo ~ Day 2

I visited the BSC clubhouse today with Nigel Walters BSC, which is a very tiny but quaint old house on the grounds of Pinewood Studios. It has lots of history and sentiment attached to it and I was very pleased that I got to go there.

The Expo again had good crowds today but not as many a yesterday…

There was another forum of BSC cinematographers moderated by John De Borman BSC ( If I Stay ) discussed their hardest shots to choreograph and light and how they achieved them.

The panel consisted of John Mathieson BSC (Gladiator) Tony Miller BSC (Quirke -TV Series) and Sean Bobbitt BSC (12 Years a Slave). It was very informative and quite humorous as they discussed the trials and tribulations of achieving a great shot.

It became even more humorous when the studio lost all power and they had to talk in the dark for a little while, this didn’t phase them or stop them and it was good fun.

The event has now finished it was a great success and the BSC now look forward to their next Expo. My thanks to Panavision for the opportunity to experience this fantastic event.

David Lewis ACS

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