We were very sorry to hear about the death of our long standing member Brian Tufano BSC on Thursday 12th January 2023 after a long illness.
Brian was somewhat of a hero to many BBC Film Unit because he had worked his way from pageboy at the BBC Shepherd’s Bush Studios to an award winning cinematographer and later head of cinematography at the NFTS.Very sad news. He will be sorely missed especially by those who were taught by him.
Born during the Second World War, Brian was evacuated with his mother to a village in Wales where he was captivated by the weekly film screenings in the village hall.
Back in London after the war, a school friend introduced him to a local film society in Shepherd’s Bush and he was hooked. After trying unsuccessfully to join the film industry at 16, he soon secured a position at the BBC’s newly opened Lime Grove Studios as a messenger boy .
Shortly after, the BBC created the Television Film Unit at Ealing Film Studios and Brian became a trainee projectionist. The film unit consisted of mostly ex-newsreel cameraman, who were all very approachable. They invited him to go out with them at weekends, as an unpaid assistant, while they shot news items and football matches.
With the expansion of BBC2 and colour broadcasting in the late 1960s, the film unit grew and Brian was officially taken into the camera department as a trainee assistant, eventually becoming one of the unit’s most prominent film cameramen. He worked his way from documentaries into drama, at which he was very successful, working with many freelance directors such as Jack Gold, Stephen Frears and Ken Loach.
But it was shooting the aptly named The Evacuees (1975) that introduced him to director, Alan Parker, who encouraged him to seek fame and fortune in the freelance world. He left the BBC after 21 years and began making his mark with television commercials which in turn introduced him to more young, talented directors.
Ridley Scott asked him to shoot a test sequence for Alien (1979 ph. Derek Vanlint) in order to convince the studio to make the film and employ Sigourney Weaver in the lead. Although he was Ridley’s first choice, Twentieth Century Fox wouldn’t let him shoot the feature because of his television background. However, he later got the chance to shoot additional photography for Ridley’s Blade Runner (1982 ph. Jordan Cronenweth). Quadrophenia (1979) and Lords of Discipline (1983) followed for director Franc Roddam, and a number of US projects.
In 1995 he was nominated for a BAFTA for the television series Middlemarch (1994 d. Anthony Page), and after meeting director Danny Boyle, went on to shoot Mr. Wroe's Virgins (1993). This relationship later spawned a BAFTA Award for Best British Film for Shallow Grave (1994), followed by the seminal Trainspotting (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1997).
In 2000, he photographed Billy Elliot for first-time director Stephen Daldry, winning another BAFTA nomination. Brian became a frequent lecturer at the National Film and Television School until he was persuaded to take over as Head of Cinematography. He worked at the school for the next 15 years, enhancing its reputation as one of the best film schools in Europe, whilst continuing to shoot films.
He became a member of the BSC in 1974.
OTHER CREDITS: The Sailor's Return, War Party, East is East, Jump Boy, Late Night Shopping, Once Upon a Time in the Midlands, Kidulthood, Adulthood
SELECTED AWARDS: BAFTA Nomination: Middlemarch (1994 d. Anthony Page) BAFTA Nomination: Billy Elliot (2000 d. Stephen Daldry)
British Independent Film Awards Special Jury Prize 2002
BSC ARRI John Alcott Memorial Award 2015 BSC Lifetime Achievement 2020