Paul Beeson

Paul Beeson, B.S.C. (16 November 1921 – 19 July 2001) was a British cinematographer. He was initially at Ealing Studios before going on to work on films for various other companies. He worked on over three hundred feature films, including 74 where he was director of photography.

Paul Beeson, B.S.C.
Born(1921-11-16)16 November 1921
Hammersmith, London, England, United Kingdom
Died19 July 2001(2001-07-19) (aged 79)
Gerrard's Cross, Buckinghamshire, England,
United Kingdom
Years active1938–1996

Beeson was the cameraman who filmed the iconic The Sound of Music opening scene of Julie Andrews from a helicopter.


Beeson was born on 16 November 1921, and as a teenager he gained a passion for photography. While still studying at Cranleigh School, his father managed find him an opportunity as a trainee at Ealing Studios, then known as Associated Talking Pictures. His first film was during 1937 for the George Formby film, I See Ice, where he worked with Anthony Kimmins.[1]

During World War II, Beeson was drafted into the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in 1941. He transferred to the naval film unit and became an official naval photographer, again with Kimmins. Beeson landed at Normandy with BBC correspondent Howard Marshall. During his time with the navy, he met his wife, Olga, who was a member of the Women's Royal Naval Service.[1]

After the war, Beeson returned to Ealing Studios, becoming a camera operator for the film Against the Wind in 1947. He was director of photography in the film West of Zanzibar (1954).[1][2]

Beeson stayed with Ealing Studios for 19 years, before going freelance.[3] He would act as a cameraman on over 300 films, 74 of which he acted as director of photography,[4] working with directors such as Robert Zemekis on Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Ron Howard on Willow, Alfred Hitchcock on Under Capricorn and Steven Spielberg on the Indiana Jones trilogy.[1] Beeson was the cameraman for the opening shot of The Sound of Music, shooting Julie Andrews' iconic title song from a helicopter.[5]

Beeson would receive awards for his long service to the film industry including the John Alcott award from British Society of Cinematographers, where he had served as president and was its longest serving member, as well as the David Lenham award from Guild of British Camera Technicians.[3] Beeson died on 19 July 2001.


  1. ^ a b c d Beeson, Carrie. "Paul Beeson BSC". The British Society of Cinematographers. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  2. ^ "He has to go to Zanzibar to get his chance". Middlesex County Times (5512). 3 October 1953. p. 1. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  3. ^ a b Maybury, Nick (29 December 1993). "Honours for film veteran". Aversham Advertiser. p. 11. Retrieved 15 March 2020.
  4. ^ "Paul Beeson". The Times (67222). London, England. 20 August 2001. p. 15.
  5. ^ Andrews, Julie; Hamilton, Emma Walton (12 October 2019). "Julie Andrews shares a behind-the-scenes look at the opening sequence of 'The Sound of Music'". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 March 2020.


  • Perry, George. Forever Ealing: A Celebration of the Great British Film Studio. Pavilion, 1981.

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