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ACS South Australian Branch


October 2021

From the Pres
Geoffrey Hall ACS Screening & Q&A
A Chat with Andrew Commis ACS
Book Now 41st SA & WA Awards

Profile - Simon Nicholls
Bust Stop Films - Tutor Required
From the Pres

The judging of the 134 entries is over and pleasingly I can tell you there are plenty of well deserved Awards so remember Saturday November 6 for our 2021 SA & WA ACS Awards for Cinematography which will be held at Royal Adelaide Golf Club with pre dinner drinks and 3 course meal. Nat Pres Ron Johanson OAM ACS is our Guest of Honour. MC the wonderful Jane Doyle and live music from Samantha Edge. A booking link is in the separate window later in the newsletter.

After COVID we're finally having a couple of live ACS events with some of Oz's best DoP's. Firstly with DoP Geoffrey Hall ACS with a screening and Q&A of the beautifully shot Escape from Pretoria and secondly an intimate chat with DoP Andrew Commis ACS where he will talk about his career, his thoughts on filmmaking and about some of his projects and experiences. More in the following articles and booking links. Please, if you book a ticket and cannot make it go back to the booking site and release your ticket so another member can attend.

We've also been working on the National ACS Awards for Cinematography 2022 as we are the hosts next year. Therefore the State Awards will be held in Perth in 2022 as it's too much for our committed bunch of volunteers to run two awards in one year.

Screening & Q&A with Geoffrey Hall ACS & Crew

We have a screening of Escape from Pretoria shot by 3 time Milton Ingerson Award for Best Cinematography winner Geoffrey Halls ACS. This will be followed by an extensive Q&A with Geoff and some of the crew so book now as we need names and #'s.  We also have Gaffer Richard Rees-Jones with Mac Quantum DMX lighting system supplied by NovaTech, Key Grip John Smith who will demo his DJI remote head with master wheels and Gold ACS Sponsors Pro AV Solutions will supply their Laowa macro probe lens and Picture Hire are supplying a Camera. Thanks to all the contributors including the SAFC for their support of the SA ACS Branch.

This stunning feature was shot right here in Adelaide with it doubling for South Africa so come and hear how it was shot and some of the tricks Geoffrey and the team used to make it such a stunning, convincing and compelling story. Free for financial ACS members, to be held at the SAFC Theatre, Rear Entrance,  Glenside on Wednesday October 6, 6pm for 6:30 screening to approx 9:15pm. Click to download a map.

Due to COVID-19 social isolation it will be necessary for masks to be worn in the theatre and SAFC buildings, bookings are essential and #'s are limited. No drinks or food allowed.
A Chat with DoP Andrew Commis ACS

Come along and hear from this very talented, Adelaide born and raised cinematographer at an informal and inspirational chat as Andrew presents his thoughts regarding approaches to filmmaking, some of tricks of the trade, how to get there and about some of the amazing projects he has been involved with. Much to be learned and I'm sure Andrew would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

Some of the projects Andrew has DoP'd that you may have heard of include Features and TV series such as Babyteeth, High Ground, Brave New World, The Slap, Beautiful Kate and numerous TVC's.

This is a free event for financial ACS members and includes drinks and finger food to be held on Monday October 25 in the Glasshouse Room, Marion Hotel, 849 Marion Rd, Mitchell Park. 6pm for 6:30 start 
bookings essential via this link. Bookings close midday Oct 20.
Andrew proudly received the prestigious Milli Award for Australian Cinematographer of the year from the ACS for his debut feature film Beautiful Kate. Check out more about his career from the bio below.

Click to check out Andrew's Bio.
Book Now 41st Annual SA & WA ACS Awards for Cinematography

Bookings are now open for our 41st Annual Awards for Cinematography proudly presented by Fujinon Fujifim. Tickets are only $120 inc GST and this includes Pre dinner drinks, 3 course meal, the Awards presentation, live music and a great night of friendship, fun and plenty of awards.

SA Sponsors and Supporters it is essential you book your complimentary tickets too!

Please note, bookings close Friday October 29 so get in soon as numbers are limited. Tickets are not issued, booking names will be on the door list.
Profile Simon Nicholls

Simon how did you come to work in the industry?
 I started out sweeping the studio floor and did odd jobs at SAS Channel 7. My brother Phil was Set Designer & head of the carpentry workshop there. I was going to Art School and the part time work was very useful. Eventually, I left Art School for the full time casual position of Props Master.

I did a bit of studio camera here & there, cable tracking on OB's and made myself useful wherever I could. But it was not until a few years later that I made a serious decision to take on Camera full time.
What attracted you to the ACS?
I wanted to dig deeper into the profession and get a boarder feel for the industry.
Who has influenced your career?
I was privileged to have worked in a crew of eight, full time Cameramen at Ch7, that was a terrific training ground and that crew has undoubtedly had the greatest influence on my professional development.
When did you become attracted to working in our profession?
By 1990 I had a good feel for the studio camera and was helping out on various programs from the kids show “The Book Place” to the live-to-air morning show, “AM Adelaide”.

Live to air, is a discipline that I have found priceless, be it studio entertainment, news, or even more importantly, sport.
What did you do when you decide to further your career?
After 12 years in the production department at 7, I was yearning for a change. Don’t get me wrong, it was a terrific job. But after a while it wasn’t challenging me a great deal.
I thought about a shift to Sydney or Melbourne, but… same thing different city.
So I dropped into a few production companies in Bangkok and Singapore. After the Sydney Olympics, I pulled the pin at SAS 7 and took on a job with a production company in Singapore.
That decision shifted me in the direction that I wanted to go; more field production, International Documentaries, travel programs & International Current Affairs shoots. The pic is of me shooting for The First Man Out series in the Gobi Desert.

Where do you think your future lies?
I ask myself this question often... But I think I’ll be shooting until I kick the bucket. I love it, I don’t have the kind of patience or people skills required for full time directing. However, during the COVID 19 lockdown I’ve been getting up to speed on Premier Pro, as I’ve been out of the loop with editing for many years.
What’s the best advice you ever received?
“Just Don’t Fuck it up!”
What’s your proudest moment so far?
My proudest moment would be receiving a Gold Tripod at the 2016 National Awards held in Adelaide, having my wife there and being acknowledged in my home town among people I deeply respect was fantastic!
Have you won any other awards along the way?
I’ve been honoured with some ACS State & Territory plaques and some programs I worked on have been recognised internationally.
An Asian Television Award for Best Cinematography 2007 for Born Again Buddhists for Discovery Channel.
Another ACS Gold Tripod in 2013 for Chef on the Road. Also awards for National Geographic & Nomad Chef.
What’s the best thing about working in our business?
Every job really is something different and every day of every job is something different again. We don’t get much of a chance to get bored. I’m privileged to travel the world, with the most unique access to extraordinary locations & variety of cultures.

The pic is me shooting for a NGO in Rawanda.

How do you approach shooting a new project?
As I rarely have the luxury of doing location recces, I often do a lot of google image searches of the locations and try to get a feel for the place and subjects were in for. I spend lot of time on Google Earth & Street View to see travel times to locations and what is in the area. I look for local photography posts, some beautiful, out of the way and unique locations can be found by searching what has been done by local photographers. This can reveal some true gems that could be otherwise overlooked when on a tight schedule.
What specific skills do you need to do your job well?
Simply, you need to be very adaptable to your environment, dealing with people, locations and filming genres. I think having some grounding and appreciation in art is terrifically helpful in seeing how compositions can come together.
What is a common blunder that film creators make?
I don’t know if it’s a blunder, or just a fact of the job and industry in general, but often being too rushed will cause things to unravel.
What’s your favourite film or TV show?
Baraka is my go-to film for inspiration before taking on a major project, however, my favourite film is Lawrence Of Arabia.
What piece of equipment or thing could you not do without on-set?
I never leave home without my Leatherman & I never go on a shoot without my Cine Saddle.
What has been your most interesting or challenging project so far?
There has been a lot of terrific projects, it’s very hard to say.
Ed Stafford’s, First Man Out, Nomad Chef with chef Jock Zonfrillo, Al Jazeera’s, 101 East docos. They have all been immensely challenging & fantastic experiences. Too many varied and terrific projects to single out one.  The pic is me shooting from the bowspirit netting for Nomad Chef in the Faro Islands.

Tell us about some of the hardships you have faced?
The biggest struggle is to get a beautiful pictorial representation of people’s stories across, it can be quite emotional at times and always challenging. But physically; when you’re hiking so hard, it can feel like you’re breathing out your arse!  Lugging 20+kg of kit for long hours, through harsh environments can sometimes feel like a military exercise and occasionally sticking your neck out a bit to get the scenes along the way.
Have you met any colourful characters along the way?
Working with the Russian Cossacks in Rostov, a lot of fun and by god, tough as nails people!
Ex British SAS personnel working with us as health and safety, guides & security, amazing & inspirational characters.
Filming with the Buddhist High Lamas in Bhutan is mind blowing!

We meet extraordinary characters all the time, working in so many varied locations and cultures. It’s exciting, inspirational and more often, humbling.
What’s your next project?
I’ll be joining a local wildlife series for Animal Planet. I’m looking forward to getting up to speed with the RED Gemini, the Panasonic LT, the Sony FX3, a GoPro 9 & couple of other new toys.
Apart from that, I might get on board for series 3 of Ed Stafford’s, First Man Out we’ll see how the travel situation pans out.
What do you do to relax?
I bring a piece of Adelaide to Singapore with my Coopers Home Brew kit!
If you started your career over again would you have done anything different?
I would have tried harder to get into AFTRS.
Do you have any advice for young people getting started in this job?
Respect & care for the equipment, even if it’s not yours. You can’t blame your tools when things are going wrong, but good gear in good condition will always help you to shine.

It really bothers me to see how badly equipment is treated and it can reflect in the work. When having trouble getting something as simple as a clean pan and tilt, it’s probably because you’re treating the tripod like sledgehammer.

Thanks Simon, it's great to hear your story after seeing so much of your award winning work at the SA & WA ACS Awards for Cinematography. Stay safe and stay well whether in Singapore or somewhere else exotic.

Bus Stop Films are looking for a Tutor

Bus Stop Films is expanding to Adelaide in partnership with UniSA. They will be delivering their Accessible Film Studies Program in Adelaide in 2022 and looking for a film studies tutor to educate a class of up to 15 young adults living with intellectual disabilities in film studies!

They love dynamic tutors with film school qualifications and at least a few short films under their belt. It's a great role for an emerging filmmaker, who is both creative and passionate about inclusion. They're not looking for people keen to "just make a movie", they want to offer a filmmaker the opportunity to gain new skills in inclusive filmmaking while they share their knowledge and work with the class of amazing young adults with disabilities to create a short film project.

The classes will be held on Saturday mornings in 4 x 10 week terms, applications close October 18. Note: this is a part time casual paid role.

Please click this link for more info.

ACS Facebook Group

Current financial ACS members are welcome to join our Facebook group. Members can post their work, connect across states, link to events, ask for advice, and put up equipment for sale, etc. To join, follow the link below and request to join, and one of your local committee members can approve your request. If you're not a member please don't apply as we really don't want to have to reject you. Thanks.

Upcoming Dates


September 30 Accreditation Window Closed
October 5 Committee Meeting
October 6 Escape from Pretoria Screening & Q&A with Geoffrey Hall ACS & Crew
October 25th Chat with Andrew Commis ACS Glasshouse Room Marion Hotel
November 1 Committee Meeting
November 6 41st SA & WA Awards for Cinematography @ Royal Adelaide Golf Course
December 6  Committee Meeting
December 13 Christmas Drinks

February 7 Committee Meeting
March 7 Committee Meeting
April 4 Committee Meeting
April 30 52nd National ACS Awards for Cinematography in Adelaide
May 2 Committee Meeting
June 7 Committee Meeting
July 5 Committee Meeting
August 1 - 21 Awards Entry Window
August 16 SA AGM & fun night.
September 1 Accreditation Window Opens
September 6 Committee Meeting
September 30 Accreditation Window Closes
October 4 Committee Meeting
November 1 Committee Meeting
November 5 42nd SA & WA Awards for Cinematography in Perth venue TBC

December 5  Committee Meeting
December 12 Christmas Drinks

South Australia Gold Sponsors
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South Australia Silver Sponsors
Anifex logo        Best FX logo        Digital Pigeon logo        Media Resource Centre logo        Picture Hire Australia logo

South Australia Bronze Sponsor
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National Major Sponsor
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National Platinum Sponsors
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Sony logo        The Post Lounge logo

National Gold Sponsors
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Lemac logo        Lighthouse Rentals logo        Miller Australia logo        Showreel Finder logo        SUNSTUDIOS logo
VA Hire logo        Well Above logo

National ACS CineKids Sponsor
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National Bronze Sponsors
Blonde Robot logo        Camerahire logo        Dragon Image logo        Mark Robinson Motion Control logo        RED logo
Rosco logo        Rotor Head logo        Sura logo        TecArt logo        Vimo Cine logo

National Supporters
AACTA logo        Black Bishop logo        MPIBS logo        NFSA logo        Stage & Screen logo

South Australian Branch
Australian Cinematographers Society
C/- PO Box 278, NORMANVILLE, SA 5204

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