Cinematographer

Born: November 23, 1959;

Died: January 2, 2018

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GLASWEGIAN Grant Scott Cameron, who has died while swimming in Thailand aged 58, was one of Britain's most-respected cinematographers, the man behind the camera on countless TV movies, documentaries and series including Taggart, Life on Mars and the Manchester-set romantic hair salon drama Cutting It.

Mr Cameron was swimming off Ko Samui island, a tropical paradise on the Gulf of Thailand, when he died for reasons so far unknown. News of his death stunned those who knew him or had worked with him, including many of the TV stars he had filmed, from Alex Norton of Taggart and John Simm of Life on Mars to Amanda Holden and Sarah Parish of Cutting It.

The acclaimed Paisley-born filmmaker Ken McGill, who worked many times with Mr Cameron, told The Herald: "Grant worked on all forms of filmmaking. His first love was drama but he was a formidable documentary cameraman. He made significant contributions on two of my most successful documentary films, both for Channel 4 TV. They were Gazza's Coming Home (1996) which charted Paul Gascoigne's tumultuous first year at Glasgow Rangers, and An Impossible Job (1994), which forensically chronicled Graham Taylor's failed attempt to lead England to the 1994 World Cup."

Millions of viewers tuned in for the Gazza documentary to see the troubled footballer bare his soul to the nation on subjects including his alcohol binges with his team mates and his pathological fear of being alone. As Ian Wooldridge wrote in the Daily Mail: "Here was a dim child attempting to explain the meaning of his life. There wasn't any, outside football."

Mr Cameron's camera work was vital to the impact of the film, with Mr McGill and Mr Cameron capturing Gascoigne's guilt and trauma over imitating an Orange band flute player after scoring a goal, a naive mistake from a naive man which led to death threats against him.

Mr McGill's Graham Taylor documentary won a Royal Television Society award and was hailed by the judges as a masterpiece. Mr McGill recalled: "We were filming an England match in Norway. The ground was tiny and we were struggling to find a suitable camera position for what was to be a compelling part of the (Taylor) film. I was flapping a bit but Grant smiled and said 'leave it to me.'

"As the teams emerged, Grant sauntered with Graham Taylor and his assistants to the dugout, squatted in front of them cradling his camera and started shooting. There was about five inches between his camera lens and Taylor's knee and he sat there for 90 minutes. Grant utilised two of his great features - charm and a brass neck." Stunned film audiences thought Taylor had been "stitched up" but in fact Taylor had agreed to the filming and to being "mic'd up," with every swear word clearly heard. The film heralded the end of Taylor's England career.

It was in 2004 that Mr Cameron was called in to "shoot" Cutting It, a drama about the bitter rivalries, professional and personal, among the workers of the Henshall-Ferraday hair salon in Manchester. Again, his camera work earned acclaim for giving the drama a "real feel."

Another old friend and filmmaker, the Edinburgh-based sound recordist Phil Croal, recalled working with Mr Cameron when the latter was in his twenties and just starting out as an assistant cameraman. The two filmed the East Africa Sahara Rally in Kenya in 1987 and worked on a documentary series about country and western music, presented by the English C&W singer/songwriter Hank Wangford. Mr Croal also worked with Mr Cameron on the documentary James Joyce Goes to China (2016), filming Glasgow's Tron Theatre Company as they toured China performing a stage adaptation of Joyce's Ulysses directed by Glaswegian Ian Madden.

Mr Cameron was behind the camera on the short 2011 film Sarajevo starring Blythe Duff of East Kilbride (and Taggart fame). He also filmed the 1999-2000 TV series Lucy Sullivan Is Getting Married, starring Sam Loggin as Lucy.

Grant Scott Cameron was born on November 23, 1959, on Golf Drive, Old Drumchapel, to Frank Cameron, a former RAF pilot, and his wife Jan. "Grant's mum was an amazing, gregarious woman and Frank a quiet, beautiful man, so it was easy to see where Frank got his social skills from," Ken McGill told The Herald. Grant had one sister, Janis, "as sweet and as adorable as her brother," according to Mr McGill, who attended film school with Mr Cameron.

After leaving Knightswood secondary school, he first worked as a stills photographer for Glasgow University Veterinary School, followed by a spell with British Petroleum before gambling on working in the Scottish film industry, starting at the bottom. One of his first film jobs, along with Mr McGill, was an uncredited role in Charlie Gormley's film Living Apart Together (1982), shot in Glasgow and starring B.A. Robertson, Peter Capaldi and the great Jimmy Logan.

In 1984, Mr Cameron was billed as a video operator but was also a "runner" - something of a dogsbody but a good way to learn all aspects of the industry - on Bill Forsyth's 1984 film Comfort and Joy starring Bill Paterson and involving an ice cream van war between two Glaswegian-Italian families.

When not behind the camera, Mr Cameron was a big Partick Thistle fan. "He loved the outdoors, specialist kites and enjoying life to the full," his childhood friend Paul King told The Herald. "He loved Scotland and Glasgow, especially their west sides. He spent many hours wandering lanes, roads, moors and hills, looking for experiences and memories for future reminiscing. He was a playful scoundrel, always looking for jokes, tricks, mind games to make us all laugh. He also had a very kind heart."

Mr Cameron is survived by his sister Janis Cameron-Harkin, who once worked for East Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Ambulance Service before emigrating to the Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia, with her husband Garry Harkin of Bearsden.

PHIL DAVISON