A credit to whom?

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Just over 40 years ago I was involved in the formation of the Guild of Television Cameramen as an independent non-profit-making international organisation that cares about television camerawork and the people who make it their craft. The GTC today has over 1,000 members, in the UK, Europe, Australia, Russia, Singapore, South Africa and the USA. The majority work in aspects of television ranging from production through documentary and drama, news and current affairs, sports and light entertainment, to corporate video.

Television cameramen are masters of an invisible art so perhaps it shouldn't surprise us that we often receive no credit for our craft. If the camera-work is transparent enough not to distract from the production, why single it out for a credit? British television cameramen/cinematographers have set a high standard for the world through their craft in production studios and on location.

When the GTC was founded, the news that British cameramen frequently received no mention in the closing credits was greeted with hilarity by broadcasters overseas where such credits were, and still are, normally listed in full at the end of a television programme.

The GTC has made some progress in persuading British broadcasters to include cameramen in the credit lists but sadly the BBC is still a major defaulter. Two recent sports outside broadcasts by the BBC omitted any credit to the camera crew.

I wrote some time ago to the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, asking why cameramen credits on the 'Richard Dimbleby Lecture' were omitted whilst all other members of the production team were shown. A simple question, and one asked with a reason. How do you recommend the cameramen for a craft award, if they, unlike the remainder of the production team, are not identified?

Mark Thompson forwarded my letter to the complaints department in Glasgow, with whom I exchanged three letters. The final response from that department was that “it would be wasting too much of the Licence Fee payers’ money” to find an answer to my question.

I asked a number of supplementary questions but there was no further correspondence from that department.

With the current practice of squeezing end credits in order to promote forthcoming programmes, it is often almost impossible to identify members of the production team. A notable exception is the David Attenborough wildlife films where television cameramen are not only credited but actually seen at work.

If your patience is strong and your eyesight very keen, you will still be able to note the omission of credits for television cameramen on many programmes, particularly those of Britain’s licence-funded broadcaster.

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