1988-1991. Film School Bournemouth and Poole College of Art and Design.
After finishing Film School Ben Smithard became a full time Lighting Technician and Chief Lighting Technician primarily in Music Videos and Commercials for approximately 7 years. Ben worked on over 250 Commercials, 100 Music Videos and Various TV and Feature Films as a Chief Lighting Technician.
In 1997/98 Ben Smithard moved up to Cinematographer/Director of Photography starting out shooting Commercials and Music Videos. Ben worked on over 100 Music Videos in under 5 years, and hundreds of Commercials. These films took Ben around the World shooting in every Continent apart from Antartica and Australia. Since 1997 Ben has worked on over 800 Commercials as a DOP from 1997 to the present day. Ben’s first TV production was ‘Wire in the Blood’ in 2005. Since then Ben has shot almost 20 TV Films, Series and Mini Series, including Cranford, The Royle Family, Spooks, Vincent, Henry IV(The Hollow Crown), The Dresser, True Love, Esio Trot, Money, The Trip(1st Series), The Day of the Triffids, The Street and A Short Stay in Switzerland. In 2010 Ben won a Primetime Emmy for Best Cinematography for ‘Cranford’.
Ben’s first full length Feature Film was ‘The Damned UTD’ Directed by Tom Hooper and starring Michael Sheen, Timothy Spall and Jim Broadbent. Ben followed ‘The Damned UTD’ with Features including ‘My Week with Marilyn’ starring Ken Branagh, Judi Dench, Michelle Williams, Eddie Redmayne, Julia Ormond, Dougray Scott, Toby Jones, Jim Carter and Dominic Cooper. In 2012 Ben photographed ‘I Anna’ with Charlotte Rampling and Gabriel Byrne. Ben’s next Feature Film was ‘Belle’, Directed by Amma Asante, starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Tom Wilkinson, Emily Watson, Penelope Wilton and Miranda Richardson. Following ‘Belle’ Ben photographed ‘Alan Partridge Alpha Papa’ with Steve Coogan and Colm Meaney for Studio Canal. Ben’s next Feature was ‘The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ for John Madden and Fox Searchlight, filmed in India in early 2014 with Judi Dench, Maggie Smith, Richard Gere, Dev Patel, Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton.
In 2015 Ben returned to India to shoot ‘Viceroy’s House’ for Gurinder Chadha, a true story about the partition of India in 1947. This film was released in 2017.
Ben’s next Feature was ‘Goodbye Christopher Robin’, for Fox Searchlight with Domhnall Gleeson, Margot Robbie, Kelly Macdonald and Phoebe Waller-Bridge. The film was Directed by regular collaborator Simon Curtis. Straight after this Feature Ben went to Dublin to shoot ‘The Man Who Invented Christmas’, a film about how Charles Dickens wrote ‘A Christmas Carol’. This Feature starred Dan Stevens, Christopher Plummer, Jonathan Pryce, Bill Paterson and Simon Callow. It was Directed by Bharat Nalluri. Ben’s next Feature was ‘Blinded by the Light’, a film about a Pakistani Teenager growing up in Luton during the troubled 80’s, and his obsession with Bruce Springsteen. This Feature was Directed by Gurinder Chada. It was sold at the Sundance Film Festival and released by Warner Brothers in 2019. Next up for Ben was the Feature Film of ‘Downton Abbey’, which was shot during the Autumn of 2018. Cast included Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Jim Carter and Imelda Staunton. The film was directed by Michael Engler. It was released in 2019 by Focus Features/Universal and went on to make almost 200 Million US Dollars worldwide. In the Summer of 2019 Ben shot a Feature called ‘The Father’ starring Anthony Hopkins, Olivia Coleman, Rufus Sewell, Mark Gatiss, Imogen Poots and Olivia Williams. ‘The Father’ was Directed by Florian Zeller, based on his successful Play, and co written by Christopher Hampton. The film was purchased by Sony Classics at the Sundance Film Festival in early 2020 and will be released in November 2020. Ben also shot TV movies ‘The Dresser’,(2015) with Anthony Hopkins and Ian McKellen with Richard Eyre Directing. Ben also shot ‘King Lear’, (2018) with Anthony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, Jim Broadbent, Emily Watson, Florence Pugh, Andrew Scott and Christopher Eccleston. ‘King Lear’ was also Directed by Richard Eyre. In November 2019 I started work on an HBO TV series called ‘The Nevers’, shooting in and around London.
Ben is still also very busy shooting Commercials, most recently a ‘Nike’ Commercial shot in Dallas, Beijing, Shanghai and Hong Kong. Ben has also shot commercials recently in South Africa, Mallorca and many in the UK. I have just finished shooting a commercial during lock down in the Covid 19 world.
Ben is also a Photographer, primarily shooting Street Photography and Portraiture around the World. Ben’s Photographic work can be seen at bensmithard.smugmug.com and his Film/TV/Commercials at bensmithard.com.