Mike Roberts, a camera operator who worked for 40 years with directors such as Alan Parker, Neil Jordan, Richard Attenborough and Steven Spielberg, died May 24 of natural causes. He was 60.
Roberts was in the midst of location shooting for Lasse Hallstrom’s “Chocolat” in Bath, England, when he passed away in his sleep.
Described by Parker as “the acknowledged master of his craft,” Roberts shot 65 films, including “The Killing Fields,” “The Mission,” “Empire of the Sun,” “Angela’s Ashes” (the last of eight with Alan Parker) and “Michael Collins.”
In 1997, he was the first technician to be honored with the Michael Balcon Award from the British Academy of Film & Television Arts for his outstanding contribution to British cinema.
Born in Woking, Surrey, he started out at ABPC Ealing Studios as a central camera loader and then went freelance, becoming a clapper loader on films including “School for Soundrels,” and then focus puller on Fred Zinnemann’s “A Man for All Seasons.” One day, the camera operator had the flu, and Roberts took over. He never looked back.
Roberts was also known for his rapport with actors, and his endless fund of stories about the ups and downs of filmmaking.
He is survived by his wife, Eileen, two daughters, his mother and a sister.