We were very sad to hear on 20th January 2021 that Ian Wilson had sadly died. He had been battling Parkinson’s for many years but was a true fighter and never complained. We have lost a lovely man and true talent and friend. Our sympathies to his older brother Nick on his loss. Elected to the BSC in 1971, Ian was a consumate cinematographer and took an active part in the Society engaging the audience at Pinewood Q and A's following screenings of his films 'Blind Flight' and 'Below'.
Our thanks to Clive Tickner BSC, Kim Macartney, Mike Miller Assoc. BSC, Flic McKinney, Dick Pope BSC for the words below and to Phil Meheux BSC for Ian's biography.
I had no idea how one joined the film industry when I left Hornsey College of Art Film School in 1968. However, whilst driving past the Round House in Camden Town, I spotted a film crew at work. With all the confidence of naivety I walked up to a rather elegant young man for a chat. Knowing, now, how busy and preoccupied DOP's are on set, I realise how special it was that I was treated so civilly. This was Ian Wilson, he was shooting "Tell me Lies", an anti Vietnam film directed by Peter Brook. Ian was to be fundamental in my early career.
Yes, I did get a job with them, waking Ian up every day, at his flat in Primrose Hill, and driving him to and from locations for the duration of the movie.
My experience, until that date, had been solely with 16mm film, but Ian took it upon himself to introduce me to 35mm. I became his loader, and later his focus puller, on current affairs films he made for "World in Action" and on art documentaries he made for James Archibald and Associates.
When he was unavailable for one of James's jobs he got me in as cameraman.
Ian was both loyal and generous with his time and with the sharing of his knowledge. He was a calm and gentle person: the epitome of 'cool' at work, where nothing phased him.
He would survey the scene before him, his fingers entwined across his chest: unruffled, as he planned his approach to each and every shot.
His work encompasses every genre, his IMDB list is long.
He was cheeky and amusing too. And he was a 'gent', 'old-school' but in a very appealing way. I did hear that under 'occupation', in his passport, "Gentleman" is what was claimed.
Clive Tickner BSC
Pictured, Sue Gibson (loader), Vic Hammond (Grip), Roddy Barron (Operator), Ian Wilson BSC (cinematographer), Paul Brinkworth (Camera car driver) and Mike Miller (Focus).
The last years of Ian's life were wretched as he had Parkinson's. The Covid Virus ended that life on Wednesday. He lived in his own flat in sheltered accommodation and it was here that he died.
His illness progressed , affecting his powers of communication and physical strength. In spite of that, if you were to visit him and knew the person he used to be, the real Ian would often shine through and you could sense that he still had a great sense of humour and could also share a past memory.
Ian photographed a very interesting variety of films and myself and many others will have some great memories of those days.
Mike Miller Assoc. BSC
Remembering Ian Wilson, BSC
He had suffered from Parkinsons for a number of years and was a resident at the Maitland care home in Belsize Park north London where his carers were dedicated and truly fantastic.
Last week Ian was infected with the Covid virus and rather than go to hospital it was decided that he'd be better off staying in his own place. Ian's main carer was very upset losing him as he had become very attached to him.
What a miserable few years Ian had.
Dick Pope BSC
IAN WILSON BSC
1939 - 2021
Ian Wilson was born in Sheffield in 1939. He studied graphic design and photography at the Nottingham School of Art and filmmaking at the London International Film School (now the London Film School).
During the 1960s, he worked for the United Nations and shot documentary footage in Greece. He entered the film business in 1966 as the cinematographer on The Private Right, directed by 27- year-old Greek Cypriot, Michael Papas. ‘As a first film made by a young director with a student crew (from the London School of Film Technique where Papas also studied), the film has a high professional gloss. Much of this is due to the elegant camera work of Ian Wilson, a faculty member at the School.’*
He moved on to shooting short films, commercials and documentaries including the live performance of the rock album The Butterfly Ball and The Grasshopper’s Feast (1977) based on the work of songwriter Roger Glover and the science fiction series Quatermass (1979) directed by Piers Haggard for Euston Films.
In 1982, he received a BAFTA Award nomination for his work on the television series The Flame Trees of Thika, directed by Roy Ward Baker, and in 1986 began a collaboration with director and screenwriter, David Leland, on his films Wish You Were Here (1987), Checking Out (1989) and The Big Man (aka Crossing the Line 1990).
Other notable productions include Edward II (1991 d. Derek Jarman), Backbeat (1994 d. Iain Softley), Erik the Viking (1989 d. Terry Jones), Emma(1996 d. Douglas McGrath) and The Crying Game (1992 d. Neil Jordan), which explores themes of race, gender, nationality and sexuality against the backdrop of the Troubles in Northern Ireland.
Ian received an Emmy Award nomination in 1999 for A Christmas Carol (d. David Jones) with Patrick Stewart
He became a member of the BSC in 1971.
*UCLA Film Quarterly 1967