In 1951, two years after the BSC was formed, its Directors of Photography decided to hold a dinner to take their Operators and crew out for the night to thank them for their hard work, talent, commitment and loyalty – for a job well done. It cost a guinea to attend. The night featured several drinks, a sit-down dinner and lots of bad jokes. The event was held at the Orchard Pub Restaurant in Ruislip and is now acknowledged as the first official Operators Night ever held.
Since that glorious evening, the BSC’s Operators Night and other celebratory events have gone through various iterations – from pub crawls,
to posh nights at the Connaught Rooms, to dinner at the Bull in Gerrards Cross. A Ladies Nights at the Spider’s Web in Watford was even organised - and another at the Savoy where everyone dressed up! Having initially handed out the cinematography and technical awards at its
Annual General Meetings, the BSC later incorporated their presentation into Operators Night. And, from 1976, principally to acknowledge the importance of Camera Operators, the BSC added the category Associate Member to its membership.
With attendee numbers growing from the tens to the hundreds, gatherings for Operators Night grew in popularity and their annual visits to drink and dine were held more regularly at Pinewood or Elstree Studios. The BSC President would announce the winners and after-dinner speakers such as Lord (Richard) Attenborough, Norman Jewison, Cubby Broccoli, David Putnam, Terry Gilliam, Robin Williams, Ken Russell, Dustin Hoffman and Ralph Fiennes, amongst many others, dazzled the room with their speeches.
However, it wasn’t until 1989 that matters were put onto more formal footing. Panavision and the GBCT joined forces to create the Camera Operators’ Award, the Focus Pullers’ Award and the David Lenham Award. Voting was conducted by the GBCT membership and the first ‘Golden Camera’ award was presented to Mike Roberts, Associate BSC, GBCT for his amazing work for DoP Peter Biziou BSC, GBCT on the Oscar-winning Mississippi Burning assisted by Focus Puller, Eamonn O’Keeffe GBCT, Key Grip David Appleby GBCT and Gaffer Peter Bloor GBCT amongst others.
The BSC has hosted a version of Operators’ Night every year since 1951. (That said, between 2006 and 2010, no Operators Awards were presented at the BSC’s Operators Night.) But in 2007, at the GBCT’s 30thAnniversary Dinner Dance held at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, Sir Roger Moore presented the last Golden Camera award to Roger Pearce Associate BSC, GBCT for operating on DoP Phil Méheux BSC, GBCT’s Casino Royale.
Gordon Hayman GBCT was awarded the Guild's Operators' Award for 1992.
Chosen from Oscar and BAFTA nominated films and voted by Guild DoPs, Gordon's outstanding operating on Cape Fear earned him the honour. He received the "Golden Camera" from Panavision's Hugh Whittaker at the BSC's Operators' Night.Gordon Hayman receives the GBCT Operators' Award. From left to right: Guild chairman Gerry Anstiss, Gordon, Harvey Harrison BSC, and Hugh Whittaker of Panavision.
|1989 Mike Roberts Mississippi Burning||1991 Mjanos Kende & Yves Agostini Cyrano de Bergerac||1993 Mike Roberts Shadowlands||1995 Freddie Cooper Doloris Claiborne||1997 Martin Kenzie Hamlet||1999 Philip Sindall Shakespeare in Love||2001 Martin Hume & Martin Kenzie Band of Brothers||2003 Peter Taylor Love Actually||2005 Peter Cavaciuti Elizabeth (IV)|
|1990 Gordon Hayman Glory||1992 Gordon Hayman Cape Fear||1994 David Worley Judge Dredd||1996 Roger Pearce Goldeneye||1998 Freddie Cooper Lifetime Achievement||2000 Peter Taylor Gladiator||2002 David Worley Reign of Fire||2004 Trevor Coop Closer||2006 Roger Pearce Casino Royale *|
A little extra information about another Award which was handed out at the BSC’s Operators’ Night:
Any Operator will always need a superb Focus Puller to work alongside them.
During days gone by, the work of Focus Pullers was acknowledged at Operators’ Night via the presentation of the GBCT’s Focus Puller’s Award – sponsored by Panavision. We are searching for information to find out how many people were given this award, over what years - so this part of ‘the history of ….’ can also be recorded.
Winners of the Focus Pullers Award
(Fondly called the ‘golden knob’)
include: Eamonn O’Keeffe; Danny Shelmerdine; Simon Hume; Ted Deason; Rawdon Hayne; and John Deaton (one of the GBCT’s founding members)
All that is known is that since 2007, neither the Golden Camera nor the Focus Puller’s Award can be found – where could they have gone? Perhaps it was because of the incredible ability and talent of the legendary Operators that had won the Golden Camera in the past that made others reluctant to nominate productions they’d worked on – or maybe it was because increasing numbers of DoP’s were operating themselves. It could even have been that someone dropped and broke the Golden Camera during a pub crawl. Who knows? The truth seems to have been lost in the sands of time.
If anyone can provide further truthful information about what’s happened, please inform the GBCT Office and anything authentic will be included in the archives! (E: firstname.lastname@example.org)
But please remember, this is not just about back-slapping at awards nights. Something more had to be done to remind the industry that it must not forget the benefits of having a good Operator, the help and support they give Directors and DoP’s - and the polish they bring to a production. The skills all good Operators should have were rapidly being lost as people left the industry and were not being replaced by properly trained craft and technical individuals. Whatever was to happen, the Operators themselves had to take the lead to protect their role -because something had to be done – and soon.
This is why and how the Association of Camera Operators came into existence. The founders (*) worked tirelessly and with help from Frances Russell of the BSC and Deanne Edwards of the GBCT, the ACO was born.
Its aim was to promote the importance of the role of the camera operator and the skills an operator must have to production personnel, to nurture existing talent and maintain quality when operating. To help push this initiative forward, the GBCT shared its DTI grant with the ACO to enable Chris Plevin to represent the ACO and GBCT on a trip to Cine Gear Los Angeles and develop good relationships with the US equivalent camera organisations.
Apart from setting up the new society, the ACO’s first President, Rodrigo Gutierrez, made it his prime objective to reinstate the Operators’ Award. And this he did in 2011 by partnering the ACO with the BSC and GBCT to launch the Operators’ Award – Feature Films. Peter Cavaciuti took the lead in 2014 by instigating the start of the Operators’ Award – Television Drama; Rodrigo then took up the baton again from 2015.
Using the rules and voting framework of the original Operators’ Award as a rough guide, Rodrigo built and improved on this to work alongside the BSC and GBCT to organise the way the Awards were run and duties shared. (Thereafter, each society would take the lead with the organisation, budget control and administration role for the Awards for a period of two years).
It was agreed by all three societies that the three memberships and patrons of the GBCT and ACO would be given one vote each to nominate productions and operators for final voting to take place and that a specially convened jury of an equal number of members from the BSC, ACO and GBCT would vote for the winners of the Features and TV Drama awards (e.g. The Jury of the Operators’ Awards Committee would consist of 3 x BSC Members, 3 x ACO Members, 3 x GBCT Members plus a Chair). Any deciding vote would lie with DoP Mike Southon BSC, the Chair of the Jury for the Operators Awards Committee. Jury Members are now changed every year.(*) The ACO founding members were all GBCT and Associate BSC members – reputable, respected and very experi¬enced Camera and/or Steadicam Operators: Rodrigo Gutierrez; Peter Cavaciuti; Chris Plevin; Peter Robertson; Paul Edwards; Peter Taylor; and Martin Hume.
has been the leading sponsor for Features.
has been the leading sponsor for TV Drama
and from 2020
became a sponsor for both of the awards.
For the 2021 Awards, presented in February 2022
also became sponsors of the awards.
|2011 Mike Proudfoot Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2||2013 Peter Robertson Anna Karenina||2015 Chris Haarhoff Birdman: Or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance)||2017 Peter Caviaciuti Allied||2019 Geoffrey Haley Joker||2021 Mitch Dubin & John 'Buzz' Moyer West Side Story|
|2012 David Worley The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo||2014 Peter Taylor Gravity||2016 P. Scott Sakamoto The Revenant||2018 Des Whelan Darkest Hour||2020 Maceo Bishop Uncut Gems|
|2015 David Worley, David Morgan, Ben Wilson, Sean Savage Game of Thrones||2017 Suart Howell The Crown (S1)||2019 Joe Russell Killing Eve||2021 Danny Bishop Your Honor (S1 E1)|
|2016 Joe Russell The Tunnel - Sabotage (E2,E3,E5,E6)||2018 James Layton A Discovery of Witches||202 Benjamin Treplin Das Boot (S2 E8)|
It is true to say that the Operators’ Awards and Operators Night itself, have again evolved. For the past 4 years (one of them covered virtually) the Operators’ Awards have been presented as part of the BSC Awards night.
However, Operators Night will continue in its own right- further details to be revealed!