8.11.1952 – 27.7.16
SUE GIBSON BSC
Born in Derbyshire, Gibson lived an outdoor life of horses and as much adventure as she could pack in, a theme that would continue throughout her life. At the age of 14, she was given her first camera and this sparked a lifelong love of image making. She left home at 18 to study photography at Newport College of Art. After graduating from Newport Sue became intrigued by the possibilities offered by the moving image and enrolled in the cinematography course at the prestigious National Film and Television School in Beaconsfield. She graduated in 1981 and started her career as clapper-loader. In 1983 Sue hung up her clapperboard and made the move to Director of Photography.
She immediately found success in the world of commercials working with directors
like David Bailey and Mandie Fletcher garnering many awards including in 1987 the Lion D’Or at Cannes with Saatchi and Saatchi, a Gold Award at the British Television Advertisers Awards and in 1991 the Designer and Art Directors Association Award for Cinematography.
Her first Feature Film was Hear My Song (1991) directed by Peter Chelsom, followed by Secret Friends (1991), the last film directed by Dennis Potter, which won her an Evening Standard Film award in 1992. That same year, Sue was invited to join the British Society Of Cinematographers, the first woman in the society’s then 43 year history.
Since then she has photographed several more features including Mrs Dalloway (1997) directed by Marleen Gorris; Londinium (2001) directed by Mike Binder, The Search for John Gissing (2001) directed by Mike Binder, and Mrs Caldicot’s Cabbage War (2002) directed by Ian Sharp, as well as 2nd Unit on Resident Evil (2002) and Alien versus Predator (2004) both directed by Paul W. S. Anderson and photographed by David Johnson BSC.
Her TV credits include the mini-series, Amongst Women (1998) directed by Tom Cairns which won the Irish Film and TV Academy Award for Best Craft contributors; The Forsythe Saga (2002 version) directed by Chris Menaul; Miss Marple (2005-7); Poirot (2006) directed by Andy Wilson and Jericho (2005) for Granada; Riot At The Rite (2005) directed by Andy Wilson for BBC2 and she also set the style for the successful BBC series Spooks for Kudos Films.
In addition to her work as a D.O.P., Sue has been mentoring and tutoring students at the National Film and Television School and London College of Communication (LCC) helping to preserve the future of the industry.
In 2004 she joined the Board of Governors of the BSC and achieved another first by being the first women to be elected President of the Society 2008-2010.
While President, there were many forums and discussions concerning film versus digital acquisition (the majority of which were biased), Sue then gave up a huge amount of her time, for free, to organise a Film and Digital Evaluation. Shot on a myriad of different film and digital cameras, the results showed an unbiased representation of what could be achieved on the different formats. This resource was presented at the BFI and other UK locations and copied to Blu-ray. It proved an invaluable source for students and young cinematographers alike and is still requested to this day.
Continuing her childhood love of riding she rode in cross country competitions and dressage events on her horse Demi and embarked on a breeding programme with her that resulted in the birth of her beloved foal Bella.
When faced with the phrase “the sky’s the limit” she would challenge even that by getting a pilot’s license. When told she wasn’t allowed to cross the channel in a single engine plane, she went out and qualified for a dual engine. And to round it all off so she could fly to the opera and back she took the night flying rating to boot. Oh and just in case the film work ever dried up she went to Canada and qualified to fly a seaplane!
In 2010 Sue won the Women’s International Film and Television Showcase Cinematographer Award. In 2011 Sue won the Women In Film and Television International Visionary Award.
Sadly, Sue was taken ill with cancer after her last credit, four episodes of the paradoxically named Death In Paradise (2015) directed by Roger Simonsz and Richard Signy, which won the The Philips Vari-Lite Award for Drama at the Knight of Illumination Award ceremony 2015. Unfortunately, Sue did not live to receive the award.
Simon Surtees/Frances Russell/P.M.