It is with deep regret that we report that Arthur Wooster BSC passed away peacefully yesterday afternoon. He was 91. He had been suffering from Alzheimer’s in later years and his only pleasure had been visiting the cinema but when the pandemic struck all that changed. A stalwart of our industry and one of the most hard working and prolific DPs in our Society and a kind and thoughtful man as well. Our thoughts and condolences go to his wife of 56 years, Anne and his two sons David and Tim.
He became a member of the BSC in 1972 and in 1983 was honoured by BAFTA with an award for "‘Outstanding British Contribution to Cinema” followed by a "BSC Lifetime Achievement Award" in 2007.
Born in 1929, Arthur’s father ran a butcher’s shop opposite Wembley Film Studios (Britain's first purpose- built sound studios). Knowing Arthur was very interested in photography he arranged an interview at The Crown Film Unit in 1944 and Arthur became a clapper loader at Pinewood studios working with Chick Fowle BSC on a documentary The True Story of Lilly Marlene, directed by Humphrey Jennings.
After his national service, he re-joined the Crown Film Unit and worked on Man of Africa as a focus puller, directed by Cyril Frankel and shot in Uganda. A year or so later, Crown were shooting in Malaya when the crew were ambushed and the cameraman, Teddy Catford, was injured. When no-one at the unit wanted to replace him, Arthur volunteered and was now a DP.
When Crown disbanded in 1952, Arthur helped form Film Partnership and also shot newsreels for Pathe and Movietone including a 3D film about the Coronation of Queen Elizabeth II.
Arthur eventually left the company and by now, was directing and photographing numerous short films, commercials and documentaries around the world including Mekong: River of Asia (1964) and Pipeline Alaska (1977) both directed by John Armstrong and nominated for Oscars.
Arthur’s reputation as a cameraman expanded into sports films that included Official Films of the 1966 World Cup, 1968, 1972 & 1976 Olympic Games and later at the 1990 World Cup.
The first feature Arthur worked on was second unit on Downhill Racer (1969 d. Michael Ritchie), followed by films such as Le Mans (1971 d. Lee Katzin) and Gold (1974 d. Peter Hunt). John Glen often worked in the cutting rooms at Film Partnership often cutting films that Arthur had shot and directed, as well as several James Bond films. In 1980 Glen was going to direct For Your Eyes Only and asked if Arthur would be interested in doing the second unit. This was to be the start of a long relationship for Arthur with the Bond company where he would direct and shoot the second unit on titles such as Octopussy, A View to a Kill, The Living Daylights, License to Kill, Goldeneye, etc.
Arthur had now established himself as one of the world’s top 2nd Unit Directors who could DP as well, a combination that made him highly sought after but naturally restricted his main unit DP opportunities although he photographed a number of his own films including Eat the Peach (d. Peter Ormerod) and the television series Sharpe, one episode of which Sharpe’s Company, directed by Tom Clegg, won an RTS award for cinematography.
(David Wooster with Phil Méheux BSC)