Iain Mackay Assoc BSC
Camera Operator ACO
I grew up with my mother and brother in the beautiful county of Yorkshire, went to school in Harrogate, learned many things, but nothing to do with photography or cinematography.
My brother Paul who is five years older than me, moved to London when he was 18 and began work as a runner in Soho for various production companies. I knew I wanted to follow him, but first I spent a few months in Los Angeles in 1998 making a nuisance of myself at Panavision Woodland Hills. Turning up every day and wanting to be put to work. Once they realised I wasn’t going to go away they put me on a rotation around the departments learning the ropes for a couple of weeks each time. Manufacturing, video, lenses, and the prep floor.
When my time in the states was up, I flew to London and headed straight for Panavision in Greenford. They knew I was coming as Woodland Hills had faxed a reference already. Steve Evans offered me a job in the storage room, and that was my start of three years there, and the start of my journey in the UK film industry. I made many friends and contacts including Hugh Whittaker and Charlie Todman, and Chris Ross BSC who was head of shipping at that time.
From there, in 2001, I was asked by the great focus puller Rawdon Hayne to trainee and load for him, and so began a run of films with him and Pete Robertson (operator), Carlos De Carvalho (focus puller), Jennie Paddon (loader), and Shaun Cobley (loader), plus many inspiring DOPs including Seamus McGarvey, David Tattersall, Jess Hall, Peter Suschitzky, Haris Zambarloukos, and Dariusz Wolski.
I had a great time as a loader, but I knew I didn’t have the desire to become a focus puller. Having watched Pete Robertson and other great Steadicam operators at work, I knew that’s where I wanted to head. Rawdon gave me the confidence and the belief it was possible, and I began to practice and to operate on student films and promos whilst I was still loading. Many of those jobs were for aspiring DP’s that I still continue to work for today.
So after ten years as a loader, I made my break to operating in 2012, where I have to thank Chris Ross BSC for immediately putting me to work on dramas and features he was shooting. The level of accuracy he looks for, and his eye for a good shot, pushed me to do my best, and I’ve never looked back. The second series of Top Boy for channel 4 being an early highlight of my operating career. I’ve done seven films or dramas with Chris now, and look forward to many more.
Danny Cohen BSC and Zac Nicholson BSC have also been great collaborators for me. With Danny I’ve operated three times for Stephen Frears, and with Zac twice for Armando Ianucci. In 2018 I was nominated for best operator on a TV drama for A Very English Scandal, directed by Stephen Frears. The same year i was accepted as an associate member of the BSC after being proposed by Chris Ross.
I feel very lucky and privileged to have worked on many great projects, including
The Death of Stalin
The Little Drummer Girl
The Personal History of David Copperfield
A Very English Scandal
The Danish Girl
Florence Foster Jenkins