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Brian Tufano, Cinematographer on ‘Trainspotting,’ ‘Billy Elliot,’ Dies at 83

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Brian Tufano, the veteran, BAFTA-nominated cinematographer known for his collaborations with Danny Boyle, has died. He was 83.

The news was confirmed by Tufano’s agent at McKinney Macartney Management, with Jon Wardle, director of the UK’s National Film and Television School — where Tufano had previously worked as a department head — posting a tribute on Twitter.

“Very sorry to have to share that Cinematography legend and former @NFTSFilmTV Head of Department Brian Tufano has died,” Wardle wrote. “He shot so many amazing films and did so much to champion new talent, in particular female DPs. We loved him and will REALLY miss him.”

Beginning his career at the BBC as a projectionist, Tufano worked his way up to cameraman within the film department in 1963 and would work on small-screen features with directors including Stephen Frears, Ken Russell and Alan Parker while at the broadcaster. His first feature film, having gone freelance in the mid-1970s, would be The Sailor’s Return for director Jack Gold, while he would later lens cult 1979 Brit drama Quadrophenia. In the 1980s, he would provide additional cinematographer for Jordon Cronenweth on Blade Runner.

Tufano first worked with Boyle on the 1993 TV miniseries Mr. Wroe’s Virgins, sparking a creative partnership that would switch to features the following year with the director’s breakout debut, Shallow Graveand later including groundbreaking global smash Trainspotting and A Life Less Ordinary. The two also worked on the 2008 short film Alien Love Triangle. Other credits would include East is East, Billy Elliott (starring a young Jamie Bell and for which Tufano would receive a BAFTA nomination) and Once Upon a Time in the Midlandswhile with Jump Boy, Kidulthood, Adulthood and Everywhere and Nowhere, Tufano enjoyed a four-film collaboration with director Menhaj Huda. Tufano’s final film was the 2011 documentary Gymnast. In 2001, he won the BAFTA Award for outstanding contribution to film and television.

Speaking to David A. Ellis of filmint In 2016 about his career, Tufano said: “I always wanted to work with camera when I was at school. There was nothing else in my mind but it was the process of getting there. … I find I can adapt to each director easily. I used to prefer it when the director was standing next to me and next to the camera. They were involved with the actors and the crew. The majority of young directors don’t seem to be able to work unless they are looking at a monitor.”

In an obituary on his agent’s website, Tufano was described as the “cinematographers’ cinematographer,” whose work will endure for time to come. “His legacy lives on — not only through those works — but also through the careers of those students he nurtured over the years,” it added. “Our lives are richer for having known Brian and we shall miss him tremendously.”



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