New mentoring scheme to support cinematographers and camera operators

Former ScreenSkills Trainee Finder camera trainee working on set © ScreenSkills / Erroll Jones

The British Society of Cinematographers, Association of Camera Operators and ScreenSkills have joined forces to form a new mentoring programme designed to support cinematographers and camera operators from groups under-represented in the screen industries.

The BSC/ACO ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme will be part of the ScreenSkills Mentoring Network supported by the BFI, awarding National Lottery funds, as part of its Future Film Skills strategy.

Award-winning directors of photography and camera operators from the membership of the BSC and ACO in the UK will mentor 20 mentees in the inaugural round of the programme developed by the BSC education committee with ScreenSkills.

Seetha Kumar, CEO, ScreenSkills, said:

Learning from the experience of others is so important in supporting and developing talent and having networks to draw on makes a real difference. We are delighted that the cinematographers are making such a strong statement about the value of mentoring and look forward to working with them to help support a diversity of talent in cinematography and camera operating.

The scheme will be targeted at those with some experience, so consideration will be given to membership of professional bodies, the number of years of work and credits. This particular partnership is not for new entrants. It is anticipated that mentoring partnerships will last between six and 12 months.

Sean Savage, Associate BSC, ACO, SOC, president of the ACO, said:

The place where I stand now is entirely down to the generosity and knowledge given to me by my wonderful mentors. That knowledge gained is now for us to pass to the next generation. The ACO is fully committed to this exciting partnership.

It is hoped that the BSC/ACO ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme will be an ongoing initiative that will take on more mentees over time. It will be targeted at mentees from under-represented groups who are already experienced in cinematography or camera operating.

BAFTA-winning cinematographer James Friend, ASC, BSC, (Rillington Place, Patrick Melrose), from the BSC education committee, said:

Education and the promotion of the highest possible standards within our craft are the fundamental principles our organisation was built upon over 70 years ago.

I was fortunate enough to have been mentored by two great members of the BSC and, on reflection, I cannot imagine where my career would be without their invaluable guidance and it gives me great pleasure to reciprocate by supporting this initiative.

James is already a volunteer mentor with ScreenSkills.

How to apply

Mentees who wish to be considered should apply here. They will be required to create a ScreenSkills profile and to complete an application form, detailing their experience and hopes for mentoring. BSC and ACO members will have a dedicated process for volunteering and will be involved in the matching process with a mentee. They can request access to this mentor registration form by contacting

Under the general mentoring programme, ScreenSkills takes responsibility for matching mentors with mentees according to the information provided by volunteers and would-be mentees.

Applications for the inaugural round of the BSC/ACO ScreenSkills Mentoring Programme will run until 8 July.

About ScreenSkills

ScreenSkills is the industry-led skills body for the UK's screen industries – animation, film, games, television including children's TV, unscripted and high-end drama, VFX and immersive technology. We work across the whole of the country to ensure that UK screen has access now, and in the future, to the skills and talent needed for continued success.