Ken Brinsley BSC – Biography
I was sixteen in 1968, preparing for exams and expected to enter a career in agriculture: “who goes to college to study photography?”…
I was brought up in a farming community in Hampshire and I loved it. I understood the landscape and its characters and relished using photography to capture images, developing and printing my own pictures.
I did study photography at college: the excellent course in City & Guilds General Photography (1970-1972) instructed me technical skills for a lifetime’s career, and Film School (1972-1974) unlocked the brilliant world of cinema and cinematography. Behind the camera you’re an observer looking through glass. The story and the characters, the setting and the performance, and always the light, how beautiful the light.
Out of the Grierson era of cinema verité, the National Coal Board Film Unit was home to a pool of talented documentary film-makers; after film school it became my home for four years as a staff camera assistant/ operator. I assisted Fred Gamage who was chief cameraman and a complete gentleman. We shot on Eastman Colour 5254 loaded into the Arri 35-llc (with Arri 120 blimp), and Newman Sinclair 35mm clockwork cameras when filming underground.
I left the NCB in 1978 and travelled extensively, shooting for television. I was a film cameraman on documentaries and current affairs for ITV. Then I got a break into theatrical production and was lucky to work as focus-puller for hugely talented, feature camera operator, Gerry Anstiss. Together we did many episodes of the hit show Worzel Gummidge (1979-1980), and I took over as operator when Gerry was called up for a feature.
It was 1985 when I became a DP shooting film drama for BBC & ITV, being responsible for hundreds of hours of screen time of original theatrical production over a 25-year period. I owe much to many eminent practitioners, in particular, producers James Hill and Chris Clough, and cameramen Freddie Young, Michael Samuelson and Peter Jessop.
I was nominated by Wolfgang Suschitzky to full membership of the BSC in 1991. Our society bestows great honour upon the individual. A responsibility to live up to, where we endeavour always to produce skilful work. We respect our technicians and our craft. It has been one of the proudest achievements in my life and an enormous privilege to work in the industry and contribute to it.
These days I'm doing what I was expected to do - on the land, in agriculture. A smallholding in retirement, with three grandchildren helping me. I love it.
Ken Brinsley BSC - Sample Credits:
MONARCH OF THE GLEN – starring Richard Briers, Susan Hampshire, Julian Fellowes.
29 x 1hr episodes for BBC TV
THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET - starring Lesley Dunlop, Miriam Margolyes, Jean Alexander, Gemma Jones, Miranda Pleasence.
6 x 30-minute serial for BBC Television Enterprises & HIT Entertainment.
BEJEWELLED - Starring Emma Samms, Denis Lawson, Jerry Hall, Jean Marsh, Frances de la Tour
93-minute American made-for-TV movie - Buena Vista for The Disney Channel and ITV Network.
THE ROAD TO MANDALAY - Starring Ken Russell. An autobiographical work.
Director - Ken Russell
Drama/Documentary for ITV Network
THE QUEEN AND HER CEREMONIAL HORSES – A ‘first-time ever’ look behind the scenes at the Royal Mews with HRH Queen Elizabeth ll
Documentary for ITV Network
THE SECRET HUNTERS - Made with assistance of the Special Air Service, the film tells the story of how the Regiment tracked down and brought to trial Nazi war criminals following World War II.
Documentary for ITV Network