Sure sure


Friend, cinematographer, artist, teacher, Scott Ward, who photographed basically everything I made in the last twelve years, from CRY FOR BOBO on, just died. This was the first I’d heard he was even ill. As one friend said, “Of course. That’s exactly what Scott would do.” Part of what made him such an easy collaborator, and such a reliable, efficient creator of elegant, beautiful images was that he avoided fuss.

I had the easiest of relationships with Scott, a collaboration a bit like working with an actor, and I learned every bit as much as I have from the good actors I worked with: Scott’s camera always needed a motivation if you wanted it to move, which was a great lesson to me. He wouldn’t complain, as most actors don’t, but if you saw him looking unhappy he could tell you exactly what was wrong with the shot you were suggesting, and then, only if you asked (and I made it a point to), exactly how you could make it better.

It seemed like we picked up a new catchphrase or running joke together each time we did a film. “That seems like a plan,” was the first, a line we threw around on BOBO every time we arrived on set and worked out what we were doing. The last time we worked together, we found ourselves saying “Sure-sure,” rapid-fire, like Sid Musburger. “Where did that come from?” asked Scott. “The Hudsucker Proxy,” I said. “Yes, but why?” he asked.

I’d never met him before BOBO, and will always be grateful to producer/friend Nigel Smith for introducing us. Scott instantly endeared himself to me by his communicativeness, sensitivity and the gorgeous footage he created every single day. And he was fast, which a director always appreciates. I guess he’s also responsible for the title of this blog, since I asked about noir lighting when I interviewed him for the gig and he said something like “Yes, I flatter myself I’m quite good at shadowplay.” He sure was.

I learned every time I worked with Scott, and when I taught alongside him. He did a devastating critique of Stanley Kubrick’s use of candlelight in BARRY LYNDON — “Of course it’s interesting, but because they’re augmenting the candlelight you can see in shot with huge banks of hundreds of candles out of shot, you lose the flicker, and so what you end up with doesn’t look very much like candlelight at all. Certainly less like what you could get just by faking it with an electric light on a dimmer.” Same for the cab interiors in COLLATERAL, where they coated the whole vehicle with reflective stuff to bounce the light around, resulting in something spectacular but totally unrealistic. Scott could be very funny about the fetish for natural light: “It just seems weird to me that you’ve got all this other kit that you have to bring, but you’re not allowed to use your lights.”

And his greatest tenet, applied to film-making technique of course, but it seems to me applicable elsewhere in his life and ours: “You get rewarded for bravery, always.”

Scott filmed our “reconstructions” for the forthcoming NATAN, and I had no idea he was ill or that it was to be his last shoot. But I’m told by Minttu, his wife, that he was glad to finish his career with something about cinema. He loved cinema.


Scott (left) and me, INSIDE AN UNCLE.

27 Responses to “Sure sure”

  1. Paul Duane Says:

    My two days on set with Scott during the Natan shoot in Edinburgh left me in no doubt as to his artistry, his integrity, his appetite for hard work, and his excellent taste. I feel privileged to have worked alongside him and deeply upset that he won’t ever see the results of that work. Thanks for bringing him on board, David, and my deepest condolences for the loss of your friend and collaborator.

  2. Hannah McGill Says:

    Lovely, David, thank you. Scott was phenomenally talented and a lovely smiley man.

  3. Matt Lloyd Says:

    This is lovely, thanks so much David. Love how you describe him looking unhappy at poorly considered direction. Exactly right!

    Wee point – you’ve misspelt Minttu’s name.

  4. Simon Fraser Says:

    That’s a fine tribute. I’m sorry we never met.

  5. Matt: fixed. Blame the bleary eyes.

    Two earlier posts that refer to Scott’s work, and presence:

  6. Scott gave so much to so many of us. I think every student at ECA has benefitted so much from his care and passion for the right shot in its most profound sense. He had so much integrity and care in all he did and we miss him so much already in the department. So many students have come in today saying how much they were looking forward to speaking to him, how much they have gained from him in the past. He taught not just by what he said but by how he was- a big man in every sense of the word.

  7. Rana Ayoub Says:

    So Sad to hear that Scott left this world. I feel privileged I had the chance one day to meet him and learn from him at ECA he was such a talented and devoted tutor! I hope you are in a better place Scott. My condolences to Minttu and everyone who knew him :(

  8. Scott was a wonderful guy and a brilliant teacher although, in a way, it wasn’t so much him teaching you as you learning from him. But that’s what brilliant teaching is, isn’t it?

  9. Mario Cruzado Says:

    I never had the luck to work with Scott on set but I surely did enjoy his lessons very much. He always had a lot of time to discuss films and the motivation of why things look the way they do. The fact all of us feel devastated speaks so much about his capability to inspire as a person and as a teacher. He will be truly missed and irreplaceable at ECA.

  10. Nice one David, great piece of writing on the great fella, big and bold with a big bold heart. Hope you don’t mind, I’ve nicked your Scott-quote for my fbk posting. Although our paths didn’t cross much in recent years, when they did I regretted losing touch (mind you, what a busy globetrotting guy!) and valued his thoughts, humour, way with people, his artistry, generous, open nature and booming laugh. RIP Scott ~ I loved working with you and your company was always inspiring and fun.

  11. I only know Scott from a couple of lectures in cinematography last term and this was enough to read what kind of a person he was. Cheerful, smart, easy going and kind. He was so eager to help with our projects and happy to share his huge experience with us, entertaining us with the stories from his shoots. It was a huge shock to hear he is not with us anymore. A lot of us were looking forward working more closely with him. He will surely be irreplaceable as a teacher at ECA and we all already miss him. The fact no one knew he was ill speaks a lot about his strenght and also about Minttus.
    Our thoughts and support is with you Minttu.

  12. A beautiful beautiful man.

  13. Naomi Liston Says:

    what a loss – loved working with you both on Bobo, it really was laugh a moment! funny I was remembering just the other day the TA parade area at the back of our offices which we used for the bus station. I really cant believe it, I hope his illness was not painful. Much love Naomi Liston – Location Manager “Cry for Bobo”

  14. I loved working with you both on “cry for bobo”,- beautifully shot. (and directed). So sorry to hear about this sad loss. Heaven’s film department just got a whole lot better!

  15. Bryony Day Says:

    I remember the few classes I had with Scott. He made the technical aspects of filming feel simple so we could all be creative. That’s not easy. He was like a gentle tree towering above us all. It’s sad that he’s gone.

  16. Thanks everyone. Thanks, Scott.

  17. a fantastic heartfelt message. i’ve not worked with scott since one of my very first jobs, but he said something to me on set then which has informed my career ever since. a very cool man indeed.

  18. Michael Taggart Says:

    I’m very sorry to hear of the loss or your friend and collaborator, Scott Ward. Finding collaborators in any kind of creative endeavor that are affable and bring something to the table are of great value. It is a great gift that you were introduced to him and had the opportunities working through the creative process and the successes you shared with him will live on for many to enjoy.

  19. I met Scott through Clare & Adrian’s work. I only knew him a little. But when I asked him to help out with the cinematography pages we were creating for teachers on a Creative Scotland website he revised and tweaked everything brilliantly, and way beyond what I had expected. He will be missed I know. Jonathan

  20. Thank you for such a warm tribute to such a wonderful warm, intelligent human being. Everything he did, he did with integrity, passion and good humour. I am grateful to have known him. He will be greatly missed.

  21. We have only just heard of Scott’s passing – you have written a lovely tribute. Both my wife and I knew Scott and Mintu through Samir Mehanovic. We stayed with Scott and Mintu briefly at their lovely house in Edinburgh some years back, and I was always impressed with his honesty and integrity and real passion for the moving image. Our heart goes out to Mintu and Scott’s family. Rest in peace my friend. David and Wendy Reid (Australia)

  22. Thanks for writing. We’re showing bits of Scott’s work at the Art College tomorrow, there’s something happening at the Cameo Cinema on Friday I think, a screening in Glasgow on Sunday night, and I think the tributes and mourning will go on for a long time after that.

  23. Jolyon White Says:

    Just heard about Scott’s passing. So sad. He shot two short films with me (one on the eve of a hernia op, but without complaint, well maybe a little…). In recent years we had lost contact which is a shame. I’ll remember him fondly. A good friend and a gent. RIP.

  24. Ricky Callan Says:

    I only found out last night about Scott’s passing. To say I was shocked, is a complete understatement of my feelings. He has been in my thoughts ever since.

    I worked with him many times. But also had the pleasure of his company, over and above those times we worked together.

    A genuinely lovely human being, who I never heard a bad word said about. But then, people only get bad stuff said about them, when given reason to. Scott never did.

    His talent was evident in his huge body of work. His passion for, and knowledge of what he did, coursed through his very being. It was always a delight for me to turn up on a film set, to find that Scott was shooting it. I knew we were in safe hands. And that we would also have lots of fun. He was always more than tolerant of my predictable ‘fannying aboot’ And was one of the few who still managed to laugh at my rubbish. Thanks for that Scott.

    Anytime I think of him, I will always remember that big smiley face. and the way he doubled over clutching his stomach, when he was poorless with laughter

    A man with a heart as big as himself.

    To say i will miss him, isn’t nearly enough words. I am deeply saddened by his passing. Xx

  25. Sorry you had to find out this way.

    Of course I agree with everything you say about Scott’s skill and boundless affability. I’ll be writing a further tribute to Scott later this week.

  26. Ricky Callan Says:

    Thanks David.

  27. Simon Carr Says:

    A terrific guy, so humble and talented. Sorely missed.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: