QLD eNEWS - JULY Newsletter


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Take advantage of this chance to learn from a master, Pawel Achtel ACS as he discusses his techniques and shares his vast knowledge shooting underwater and 3D. As a DP, you need to know about this, even if you don't shoot underwater yourself.



Pawel Achtel, ACS has been involved in underwater cinematography for almost 30 years. Pawel also designs and produces underwater cinematography equipment. His work has been featured by National Geographic, BBC, Discovery and Sony. For almost a decade Pawel’s focus has been on 3D cinematography for IMAX and Giant Screen cinema. Pawel is a member of the Technical Committee at Giant Screen Cinema Association and the ACS Technical Committee. Pawel achieved numerous prestigious Australian and International awards. In 2013 Pawel won the coveted Studio Daily Innovation Award at NAB Show in Las Vegas and in 2015 Pawel was awarded the Inaugural Bob Miller ACS Technical and Innovation Award. In 2017 Pawel received ACS Accreditation, Golden Tripod and Gold Ron Taylor ACS Award for his cinematography.


Entries are now open for the B.OLD short film competition.

Submit your script for a 3-5 minute film that challenges traditional views on ageing for your chance to win $10,000 to produce your short film.

Find out more at www.qld.gov.au/BOLD2018 #boldshortfilms


OH CANADA. **A life changing decision to pack up my life and give another country's film industry a go**

Going to Canada had been something that I was thinking about for a few years now. Having heard the success of Brisbane camera dept – Luke Barlow and Polly Pierce - I was stuck between a rock and a rockier hard place. My film career in Australia wasn’t taking off as I was hoping, so rather than have a whinge, I did something about it.

Being in the Commonwealth, us Aussies have it good when it comes to Work Visas. Of course I’m talking about Canada. The easiest visa to get is a Working Holiday Visa or IEC as it is now called today. However, this does have a down side of the age cut off of 31 (Apologies to anyone reading this who is older). Anyway, I decided to apply, lots of forms and background checks – a traffic check if you live in Queensland. Luckily, I received the visa a few months before I turned 31 and once you obtain it, you have 12 months to activate the 2-year open work permit. The only work you cannot do is erotic massage and striptease work, you could imagine my disappointment.

After moments of hesitation, I finally booked my ticket with the plan of a holiday road trip on the west coast of USA, before flying up to Vancouver to get my visa. The visa process is easy enough, but needing to bring copies of everything as paper is still king. The three most important things apart from your letter for approval is proof of funds, what you plan on doing / staying. But the most important is your travel insurance; I only had enough for my trip but stated to the officer I was returning to Canada so wanted the full 2-year visa. I have heard of horror stories where people only bought 1 year of insurance and as a result only got a 1-year visa. It all depends on who you get, so be prepared.

After catching up with a few Aussie film friends, it was Dirk Foulger who suggested I join the Lighting Union to get income while I look for camera gigs - they were screaming out for crew. For you see in the Vancouver Film Industry or North Hollywood as it’s called, you are allowed to do more than one department; a lot of crew do it and no one cares. But to work on any feature film or Tv-series with a budget, you had to be a union member. There are different requirements for joining each department within each union. However, with every union you have to do a film orientation course. Even if you’ve been in the business for decades, you still have to do it to work in Canada.

After getting all my tickets and sitting a written lighting test, I was a Permittee Member of the lighting union. Which means I can only work after all the full members are working and I wasn’t allowed to find my own work. But after 60 days of work I could apply for full membership.

Anyway, after joining, I just had to sit back and wait for the phone to ring. It only took two days before I was called out on an ASAP call to do rigging electrics on a tiny feature called ‘Star Trek’. From day one on set, my hardest hurdle was learning the new lingo, as a spade ain’t a spade. Like a ‘Baby’ is a 1K Fresnel. It did however call for lots of funny radio chats of “what do you call it in oz?” As well, the big difference is in the grips and electrics departments where the grips do all the cutting, bouncing and diffusion of light.

It wasn’t long before I was asked to join a lighting crew as a fulltime member. From this, I was very lucky to meet Gaffer, Mark Burlet (credits include: X Files, ZOO, Rouge) and with a few chats, I dropped the whole, “I’m a cinematographer actually”. News to me was that Mark is a renowned 2nd Unit DOP on just about every TV show he has been Gaffer on, and DOP of a few features, the list is quite long. After comparing show-reel and talking up my film career thus far, I was asked the question of, “are you going the join the camera union?” Mark told me that if I got my membership, he’d get me out as Camera Op on his next show.

One of the requirements to join the camera union (IATSE local 669) is that you are a permanent resident of Canada. So I thought to myself, does applying for permanent residency count? Luckily for me, it only recently did. I was one the first to apply without having my permanent residency. Originally I was going to join as a Director of Photography, but was advised to join as camera operator. As if you joined as a DOP you cannot work as camera op on a union show. However, as a camera op I could work as a 2nd Unit / Splinter DOP or as a DOP if I was invited to apply by the production. Applying for the Camera Operator category required three letters of reference from Directors / DOPs / Producers - special thankyou to Ron Johanson OAM ACS for his support - and a video example of your latest work, plus the hefty joining fee. This is put to the membership committee and after a phone call interview, emphasizing I will be becoming a Permanent Resident of Canada. Later on during that month I got the phone call I was hoping for, I was in.

I was on my next tv show full time, ‘Rouge season 4’, with Mark as gaffer and 2nd unit DOP. We had an hand shake agreement that if any camera work did come my way I was allowed to take time off. And Mark kept true to his word and gave me a shot as his Camera Op. And to quote him “I kept my word, now don’t %@#$ it up”. The pressure is on, talk about being thrown in the deep end. I was very fortunate that I knew all the crew. I put on my operators hat and it was just like riding a bike. After that I became the resident C camera op for the show, I worked every 2nd unit. Plus during a splinter unit day I was able to get an upgrade to DOP with the shows creator as the director. It was only the opening 4 shots of the entire whole show, no big deal.

My wife and I decided to give Canada a go for the long-term. I forgot to mention we ran away to Las Vegas and eloped. But don’t worry, there was no Elvis, it was very classy. Our Permanent Residency application was starting to take shape. I was getting the minimum hours needed each week to be classed as full-time work. I just needed to get 52weeks of it; luckily I had 2 years to get it, which I got just before my work visa expired. With our Immigration Lawyer locked in, the process began for getting in the ‘Express Entry Pool’. In nutshell, you get points based on your age, relationship status, education, English or French test (that’s right I had do an English test) and work experience.

It wasn’t until late January 2018 (8 months later) that my wife and I were granted Permanent Residency of Canada. I will still always call myself an Australian and will endeavour to never lose my accent. As well, I look forward to the many trips home to shoot Features and TV Shows in my own backyard. But for now, Vancouver Canada is where I’m at and I look forward to the many adventures that will take hold. And one day I will get used to the rain, one day.

If you have any questions or want to know more, check me out at www.kimberfilm.com all my details are there.


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Everything you need to know about the 2016 ACS QLD Awards for Cinematography


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