Vale – Bruce Hillyard ACS (11th December 1931 ~ 1st June 2016)

Bruce Hillyard ACS @ the ACS HQ

It is with great sadness that we advise the passing of one of the great champions of the ACS, Bruce Hillyard ACS. Bruce died peacefully early on the morning of Wednesday 1st June, after a long battle with cancer.

Bruce wore many ACS hats over his long career as NSW Vice President, Federal President, Federal Secretary & NSW/Federal Treasurers. The latter showed his uncanny ability to wisely manage the ACS investments to the extent that the ACS National Executive was able to finally fund the dream originating back in 1958 when the ACS was formed, to have our own National Headquarters, purchased at Level 2 26 Ridge Street North Sydney, in December 2010, which now is home to the Bruce Hillyard Library, housing hundreds of publications, all donated to the ACS.

RIP Bruce and a grateful thanks from the Society you helped build.

Below is the text which can be seen at the ACS HQ on the Bruce Hillyard page of the ACS Hall of Fame Powerpoint presentation monitor.

Bruce Hillyard ACS was inducted into ACS Hall of Fame in 1997. Bruce was born in Gisborne, New Zealand on 11 December 1931, and lived there until he was nineteen and then went to Wellington University doing a BA degree. He said he had no idea what he really wanted to do in life.

“I wound up getting a weekend job during university holidays, painting houses. One evening I was cleaning up after painting at a house and the owner came out, ‘Oh God, I thought everybody had gone home, you won’t have eaten, come on in and have something to eat’. “I run the biggest catering business in Wellington, we always have food”! So in I went. He’d acquired a beaut Leica camera and been taking photographs. I thought these photographs were shit hot and I told him so. He said, “Wednesday night, are you doing anything”? I said, “No”. He picked me up in his yellow and green Jag and went for tea at his place. He said, “I have a one third share in a photographic business; if you feel like it we could try you out as a stills cameraman”. I said, “Oh yeah, that sounds pretty good to me. And that’s how I got started. The firm, Robert H Smith Photographers did absolutely everything from portraits, to candid, to advertising. Next thing I find, I’m missing lectures at university. By this time I had myself a room above the dark room, which was rent free. That was a very exciting part of my life”
“I applied to the New Zealand National Film Unit to get a trainee director’s job. I was interviewed and told, “You’re out of luck. All those jobs are taken” Three years later in 1953 I’m sitting in the same chair in the same office. They had advertised two cameramen’s positions and I was speaking to the same boss and he was saying, “Haven’t I seen you somewhere before?” “No, no” I said. Anyway, I wound up getting the job. The training was absolutely wonderful. We spent the first three months in the laboratory, then three months going around with the cameras, three months in the cutting rooms, then learning to pull cameras apart and repair them. It was fantastic.”

Bruce was once asked what advice he would give to a young up and coming cinematographer.
He answered:

“Advice for a young cinematographer! It’s too late for me to give you any advice, once you’re bitten by the mosquito the disease is inside you”.

Bruce was ACS Vice President of the NSW Branch 1973-1977 and went on to serve as Federal ACS President 1978 – 1981.