A Short History of  IMIS – BKSTS – BKS

1916 Hollywood USA a group of ten founder members formed The Society of Motion Picture Engineers (SMPE).

1928 London – a group of 30 film technicians who were members of the American SMPE formed the London Branch.

1930 the London Branch, now numbering 120 out of a total SMPE membership of 800, discussed breaking away from SMPE and forming a British technical society for the motion picture industry. 

1931 The British Kinematograph Society (BKS) was formed. Early activities included meetings where members networked with each other, presentations of techniques and papers on industry developments took place, and a plan to organise training for film projectionists and film repair staff was drafted. 

1933 BKS becomes the first Moving Image Course Accreditor The London Polytechnic, in Regent Street (now University of Westminster) established a two year long course in conjunction with BKS to prepare and train new entrants for employment in the film industry. The BKS philosophy associated with the course was quoted in a ‘Sight and Sound’ magazine report of the day “it is the aim of this present course to attain these ends by making for better understanding of the other man’s job as well as a greater efficiency in one’s own”

1937 The Society published its first edition of a quarterly journal “The BKS Journal”. This was published continuously from 1937 to the 1990s. Members of IMIS today still benefit from a printed copy now called ‘Cinema Technology Magazine’ published by The Cinema Technology Community https://www.cinema-technology.com/

1938 the Society acquires its own offices in Shaftsbury Avenue with its first organising secretary, R. H. Cricks, whose family had been early pioneers in the industry.

1938-1939 The Society publishes eleven technical papers.

1946-1947 The Society publishes 42 papers and establishes a collection of books on industry topics, which is still at the Pinewood Studios office.

1965 The Society changes name to The British Kinematograph Sound & Television Society (BKSTS).

1969 The Society organises its first major conference, trade and industry fair “Film69” at The Royal Lancaster Hotel. Filmmakers from 14 countries attended with a series of papers being presented, including conference proceedings transmitted on colour CCTV fed to 23 hotels. The National Film Theatre ran a supporting programme of films on cine technique and a series of factory and studio visits also took place.

British Pathe Newseel of BKSTS “Film 69”

Earl Mountbatten vists “Film 69”

1973 HRH the late Duke of Edinburgh Prince Philip was the patron of The Society from 1973 – 1981

British MovieTone News Footage of 

Duke of Edinburgh & David Samuelson BKSTS President 1970-72

1981 the 50th anniversary of BKSTS. The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers present a citation certificate to The Society acknowledging “its contribution to the technology and service to the craft of the motion picture and television industries.” They also present a micro film copy of all the SMPE and SMPTE journals published to date going back to 1916! 

1982 Sir Sydney Samuelson CBE supports the Society for very many years as Patron, sadly passing away in December 2022.

1984 The Society organised its first prestigious international two-day conference on Special & Visual Effects. Many of these were held at Pinewood Studios, they were held bi–annually until the early 2000s.

1985-1993 was an incredibly busy and successful period for the Society organising many training courses across a breadth of disciplines and published many booklets, manuals, and technical papers. Producing the now famous wall charts that still hang on the walls of countless production offices, facilities houses, cultural, academic and entertainments organisations. Still available and regularly ordered. See the IMIS shop.

1994 Wendy Laybourn was elected as the first woman Council Member of the BKSTS and subsequently elected as Honorary Secretary 

1995 heralded the arrival of Jim Slater, the fifth paid professional editor of the Society’s Cinema Technology and Image Technology journals. The Journal was awarded a prestigious literature prize by a confederation of international moving image organisations for its outstanding contribution to publishing knowledge of developments within the moving image industries

2000 to 2015 These past two decades saw difficulties grow for the Society. Many superb activities events and collaborations still took place, often with key industry leaders contributing. Sir Christopher Frayling, giving a lecture on Sergio Leone. However, there was a significant decline in membership over these decades. As technology became completely digital, and an older generation of professionals retired, the Society perhaps came late to engaging with the new younger generations of professionals.

2016 The late John Tompkins, a wildlife cinematographer donates a very significant financial bequest to the Society. 

2017 BKSTS rebrands to IMIS and Bryan Cook is employed as a full-time COO. For several years Bryan organised a series of superb informal presentations, get together networking sessions, right in the heart of London’s postproduction village, Soho, at the Zero One studio. These were all streamed live on the web.

2018 Honorary fellow Sir David Attenborough keynotes a lecture on the BBC Natural History Unit.

2023 A call to arms !

There have been some difficult times for The Society this past couple of years. More recently a small group of volunteer members have been working hard to stabilise finances, assets and infra structure. The good news is  – IMIS (formerly BKSTS) is now financially stable, still here and ready for re-launch and re-activation !

If you have any suggestions, can offer any assistance, or might want to get involved with the re-activation of The Society – wherever you are in the UK or the world, please get in contact with us by emailing: info@movingimagesociety.net