Sir Sydney Samuelson 1925 – 2022
There has been much written about the passing of the late, truly great Sir Sydney Samuelson, but I wanted to add my own words in tribute to a gentleman and a pioneer of the film and TV industry of his generation.
I came to be part of the Samuelson family (because if you worked for the brothers that’s what you became) in the 90’s. Starting in Pinewood Studios with Sydney’s brother Michael and then moving to Cardiff with Michael Samuelson Goleuadau (Lighting) Cymru.
The Samuelson family, if you didn’t know, were the trail blazers of the film industry in the UK, starting with his father Bertie, a Lancashire cinema exhibitor who became an early film producer in the days before the cinema could speak!
Sydney went on to establish the Samuelson Group, which he built with his three brothers into the largest film equipment servicing company in the world. He was appointed the Government’s first British Film Commissioner and served as leader of BAFTA and many other industry organisations and charities.
But for me Sydney and his late brother Michael will be remembered for by hundreds of people working in Film & TV who were given their first opportunity, this inspired me to try to emulate what they began in helping to give a start to those wanting to work in this industry. I know Sydney would always say how lucky we are to work in this amazing industry. But the anecdote I want to share and one I now use nearly every day of my life is: I went to Sydney, needing a reference to apply for a job which took me to where I am today; unfortunately, Michael Samuelson, who I had been directly employed had tragically passed away, so I approached Sydney to ask very tentatively if he would be prepared to write something for me to submit as a reference.
Sydney at once replied without hesitation and provided a glowing reference but with the words. “Allison, if you don’t ask, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to say no”. I have lived by this, if you don’t ask, you’ll never know the answer. Sydney truly gave me the opportunity to go forward in my career, every time I would see him, he always seemed so genuinely interested in what I was doing, so thank you dear Sydney, goodnight, God bless and say hello to Michael for me…