Tasmanian ACS Enews, Nov 2015


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Peter Curtis ACS - Presidents Report

Hi ACS Tasmania members and welcome to another edition of Clips. A big thanks to all who made time to contribute and also to Mike Sampey for getting it all posted online. As you will read, our diverse and interesting branch membership has been busy in recent months and worked on some really interesting projects here in Tasmania and beyond. We also hear from two of our newer Tasmanian members, Lewa Pertl and Mathew Farrell. It’s a good way to get to know them and as you will read both pursuing very interesting careers.

Last weekend I joined several other Tasmanian members at the 49th Vic Tas ACS Awards in the Melbourne Arts Centre. It was a great night and there was some amazing work screened and celebrated during the ceremony. It was particularly special to have Screen Tasmania sign on as the Platinum Sponsor of the Awards this year. Screen Tas has been a great supporter of the ACS, particularly in recent times, and Andrew McPhail and Annie Venables were at the ceremony to be part of it. Along with Southern Cross Television, Saffire Resort, Henry Jones Art Hotel and TT Line, Tasmanian based sponsors play a big part in making the Awards possible.

This year I was asked to be part of the judging panel. Along with Peter James ACS ASC, Roger Lancer ACS, Peter Falk ACS and Jaems Grant ACS I sat through many, many hours of submissions, one long weekend back in early October. It was a diverse judging group, designed to represent cinematographers across the whole spectrum of our industry. While judging can be a draining experience it’s an honour to see such an amazing collection of high-end work. We were absolutely amazed by the consistently high standard of submissions. In some cases just one or two percentage points separated those who won gold, silver and bronze awards from a great number of other entries. The voting system is incredible well structured and fair but nevertheless it can seem sad when some pieces of fine work go unrecognised. Regardless I am very pleased to say Tasmanian cinematographers didn't miss out, as four of our members won a total of seven awards.

Tom accepting his Awards

Tom Waugh won two Gold Awards in the Web and New Media category. This category attracts a lot of entries, so it was a fantastic achievement. Tom was recognized for his work on two projects filmed with his Ignite Business Partner and pilot, Chris Fox. Both entries, Kunyani and Dover were shot in Tasmania and featured some familiar landscapes, revealed in aerial splendor. Take a look at

Dover »
Kunanyi »

Pawel Achtel at the office Photo Nick Kermonde

While Tom and Chris achieve some amazing super high-res shots from the air, Pawel Achtel can do the same underwater! His underwater cinematography wowed the judges in two categories. Pawel won Gold in the Experimental and Specialised cinematography category for The Best of Palau, which features superb underwater shots of whales and their calves. Another Gold Award went to Pawel for Sea of Love - Teaser in the prestigious Nature and Wildlife category. As you will read later, Sea of Love is set to go into full production for 3D release in IMAX cinema’s around the world.

The Best of Palau: »

Hobart cinematographer, currently based in London, Beau Molloy won two Gold Awards in the TV Magazine and Lifestyle category. As many of you would know Beau started out with Southern Cross News and now works for CNN. He generally does a lot of longer-form feature work from the London office. Beau’s awards were for a story on international rally driver Sebastien Ogier and another called Inside Africa – Conservation. Beau writes about these projects in this edition.

Beau’s Mum, Jennifer and sister Kelly were at the Awards Ceremony and collected Beau’s awards on his behalf.

Sebastian Ogier »
Inside Africa »

Last but not least, Trent Butler ACS won a Silver Award in the Documentary category for an Al Jazeera special, PNG’s Snake Man, which featured an Australian herpetologist in Papa New Guinea, who’s developed affordable anti-venoms that are saving thousands from snakebites.

PNG Snake Man »

Tom, Pawel and Beau’s Gold Award winning work is now automatically entered in the National ACS Awards to be held in Adelaide next May. Fingers crossed!

Some of the crowd at the State Cinema

In early October National ACS President, Ron Johanson and I joined a capacity crowd at the State Cinema in Hobart for the Neil Davis Remembered event. There was a really interesting mix of people there, including Neil’s former work colleagues, childhood friends, relatives still living in Sorell and around Tasmania, plus Neil’s widow Julie. David Bradbury’s Emmy Award nominated documentary, Frontline, was screened followed by an excellent panel discussion, moderated by Mark Davis. The panel included Neil’s Biographer, Tim Bowden, David Bradbury and our very own David Brill ACS. It was an excellent event and I am sure we all hope it will boost community awareness and ongoing support for a memorial and museum in Sorell to properly remember this remarkable man and his cinematography.

On October 21st we hosted another local event with Rob Myers from Panasonic. Southern Cross kindly offered their Hobart Studios and about 25 of us were run through the interesting direction Panasonic professional cameras are heading, as well as taking a close up look at the DVX200 4K camcorder. It was a very impressive piece of kit. At the end of the night Tom Waugh won the lucky-door prize, a Panasonic LCD TV!

Peter Donnelly ACS

One person who was missed at the ACS Panasonic event was ACS Tasmania stalwart Peter Donnelly ACS who sadly passed away a couple of months ago. I joined about a dozen ACS Tas members at Peter’s funeral in a packed out St. Mary’s Cathedral in mid September. The service was carried out to Pete’s exact wishes. His favourite ACL 16mm film camera was mounted on an old wooden Miller tripod near the coffin. Pete’s son Charles read a beautiful eulogy, written by the whole Donnelly family. It was a heartfelt tribute to Pete, and quite amusing in places. Charles spoke of the ‘Three F’s’ that thematically ran through Pete’s life, Family, Film and Faith. It was a fitting send off and afterwards quite a gathering of Peter’s former colleagues shared some fond and amusing memories.

Finally, a reminder that we have a new batch of signed ACS Full membership certificates, so if you’re a FULL ACS Tas member and would like to receive a nice signed, sealed and delivered A4 membership certificate, drop me an email with your preferred postal address and I will get one to you. I will even find a calligrapher to write your name nicely at the top! pcurtis@cinematographer.net.au

Lewa Pertl

“Hello. My name is Leva, but spelt Lewa; it's German spelling" is how I usually introduce myself. I'd like to introduce myself to ACS Tasmania members by sharing my journey through filmmaking.

Armed with a long-time passion for filmmaking down to the atomic level, I am what they call a “self-confessed geek”. I made my first short film 12 years ago and recently worked as a graphic designer on the multi-million dollar Foxtel TV series, The Kettering Incident. In 2013, I officially launched my own boutique wedding cinematography business, The Love Lab.

I have always been drawn to science and creativity, which has left me with a multitude of interests, one being marine science. But after graduating with first class honours in marine science, I declined an offer to do a PhD and moved from Tasmania to Sydney to broaden my experiences. I immersed myself in all things film from a runner to camera assistant to second AD.

Getting up at 4am to start my day, I thrived on the challenge of the fast-paced, adrenaline-filled environment that film offered. I undertook business courses such as creative business operations and management, and technical courses at the Australian Television and Radio Film School. At the same time I freelanced on several shorts, corporates and TVCs in either camera or art departments.

With my background in science, I found that I was using my skills in research, writing and project planning - all highly adaptable to film. Even visual perception and optics, which helped me understand the nuts and bolts of cinematography. Working for production companies in large cities was exciting and valuable, but a couple of years later I felt inextricably drawn back to beautiful Tasmania. The script was unwritten but the purpose was there: All I knew is that I wanted to continue working independently, and went about making that vision a reality.

After months of meticulous planning and support and mentoring from friends and family, The Love Lab was born. Filming a live event, which is, arguably, the most important event in two people's lives, is a beautiful challenge. There are no second takes, and the bride and groom only kiss first once. For me it's all about thinking how to tell the story best in that moment and challenging wedding cinematography norms. To document the moments that will last a lifetime. It's a cliché but an accurate one. I hope that my films will one day be watched by great-grandchildren so the story I tell must contain technical, narrative and creative elements.

A recent wedding I filmed brought together two families from opposite sides of the world. A national field hockey champion from Canada meets entrepreneurial businesswoman supporting global charitable causes. They both flew in to have their wedding at the beautiful Josef Chromy Estate, Tasmania. As a "run and gun" cinematographer I kept the gear minimal and light. I used a combination of zoom and prime lenses with high-quality Zeiss glass. For image stabilisation, I used sliders, monopods, tripods and occasional steady cams for moving shots. My camera movements are also minimalistic. I find that emotions shine through stillness and control. It’s the difference between a mediocre wedding film versus a work of art.

Link to Matt and Candace's wedding »

In summary, the film industry is rich, diverse and challenging in countless ways. Through my film experiences and The Love Lab I have found that there are not many professions where you can meet such incredible people. What excites me most about film? Even if everyone uses the same camera gear, we all have a unique perspective how we see the world. That leads to endless possibilities limited only by our imagination. As story-tellers, this is our duty and we should aim for nothing less.

David Hudspeth

Sometimes in this job you have to pinch yourself. On Friday I was walking the dog on Howrah beach in fairly balmy conditions, with Mount Wellington across the water thinking….. I am going to be in Antarctica tomorrow. Somehow it didn’t compute.

The assignment was to cover a joint operation between the RAAF and the Australian Antarctic Division, using a C-17 military transport aircraft to deliver heavy cargo to Wilkins Aerodrome in Antarctica. The C17 is capable of carrying more than 70 tonnes of cargo, including heavy vehicles, and can also offer medical support facilities. It’s part of a series of flights to trial the use of the C-17. ABC Reporter Linda Hunt and I had to provide a compile of pool footage on the way back, an As-Live for News 24, material for a Sunday evening News feature story and still images for all ABC digital platforms.

The C-17 is like a flying loading dock. Passengers sit along the sides of the aircraft on webbing seats, either side of the massive cargo space. It’s pretty noisy inside, so hearing protection is a must. There are only a few small portholes. The flight took about 5 hours on the way down. I took a book on Sir Hubert Wilkins, the Australian explorer and cinematographer. Well worth a read. There was also a medical team on board to conduct a simulated evacuation.

Flying South inside the C17

We arrived at 3PM and landed on the Wilkins Ice runway. It sits on a glacier 700m above sea level and 70 km inland from Casey Station. The pilot said landing on the 1km thick blue ice felt similar to landing on a regular wet runway.

The flight had been delayed a day as there had been a blizzard. I was worried about being cold but when the huge rear door opened it reveal brilliant sunshine, hardly a puff of wind and a balmy temperature of minus nine. How lucky were we!

David & Linda on the ice

Once we hit the ice we simply did not stop. The cargo was unloaded, including a Hagglunds oversnow tracked vehicle. Then there was a simulated evacuation exercise, and finally an enterprising pair from the RAAF crew had a quick game of cricket. In what seemed like an hour, but was actually three, we were blasting the snow out behind us and heading home. It was a quicker flight back, due to favourable winds, however it wasn't all over for me. The footage had to be vetted by the RAAF Commander, so I did a quick copy for Linda on the NextTo DI hard drive and then grabbed the laptop and set about cutting a compile of what I had shot, for use as pool footage for all media outlets. Finally back in Hobart we cut the As-Live back at the ABC. Phew - A particularly long but rewarding day.

Blearily walking the dog on Howrah beach the next morning I had to shake my head. A once in a life experience.

Mathew Farrell

The life of a freelancer, or the funemployed, is often unpredictable. Those who can plan their careers with any degree of accuracy for periods greater than a week have my awe and respect.

I stubbornly started my career shooting stills of rock climbers and alpinists, convinced I could make a full time living shooting commercial and advertising material solely of folk dangling by their fingertips. I was wrong. Over time, interspersed with many forays back into the world of 'real jobs', my career morphed, but at least retained the consistent element of pointing cameras at things.

Filming glacial motion in Pakistan

On Assignment, NZ

I started shooting a much wider array of material for a wider array of clients, and started being able to rely more and more on my cameras for income. In those early days I avoided shooting video, reasoning that I could barely keep my act together for a 250th of a second, let alone for 10 minutes at a time. This changed when a friend asked if I could film his wedding. Being a freelancer, my automatic answer was 'yes, of course', followed closely by 'what did you say again?'

DSLR video was hot on the scene, and if nothing else, presented video in a camera that I otherwise already knew my way around. So I borrowed a D3x from Nikon, an NTG2 and Beachtek, and opened myself up to the brave new world of moving pictures. It was a while before I learned about shutter crimes of the 180th degree, and other such non-stills concerns, but I was underway. I crewed on short films, shot a few promo pieces, and that sort of thing.

Plotting Jib moves on set, Perth

In 2010 I was offered a full time job as a product designer for a bushwalking equipment company in Perth. To the underemployed (as opposed to funemployed, at this stage), it was an offer too good to refuse. It didn't take long before I became the company's one-man photo and video department in addition to product design. Working in-house, and having my own studio (formerly the girl's locker room. Not sure if there was any Freudian connection) to create all manner of educational and marketing stills and video work was brilliant for improving my craft. I worked on shorts and live TV in this time also, generally doing as much video work as I could find, and finally started producing work I could be proud of.

In early 2015 my job and my wife's studies were drawing to a close, so we returned to Hobart. Or at least she did. I was on the ground barely long enough to dump my bags before turning back toward the airport and heading to Pakistan with a stills photographer and two glaciologists. I spent two months shooting a documentary about their work. Before the trip I consulted with Hobart's own Tom Waugh about shooting aerials on the high altitude glaciers, and spent weeks learning to fly straight, only to have a rogue generator toast my drone's battery charger before my first Karakoram flight. None the less, I still generated a significant volume of footage which I now have to cut.

The Pakistan crew

Again, I wasn't back in Hobart for very long before heading around Australia to shoot stills coverage for various mountain bike and foot races. I've managed to shoot one event and a TVC here in Hobart, though my next lot of promo and drama jobs booked are all in Melbourne, Patagonia, and Europe. There is the possibility of at least one Tasmania climbing documentary, however.

To summarise my work these days, I shoot and edit stills and motion in a variety of fields. I most enjoy the creativity of advertising and fiction, although I find any problem solving situations interesting and engaging.

Chris Fox - Ignite Digi

We’ve certainly had a busy second half of the year. Since the last edition of Clips we’ve worked on a variety of interesting projects. Here are some highlights.

September found us in Coober Pedy, working on an Australian Sci-fi feature film called SFV1. We filmed with our Red Epic cameras, flying the new Cooke 2x Anamorphic lenses. We’ve been told this was a world first. The dust in Coober Pedy made for some very challenging conditions, but we were lucky to be working with a very talented team, including 2nd Unit DOP Tom Gleeson and 1st AC Charlie Whitaker and managed to capture some awesome shots.
Special thanks to producer Matthew Graham and main unit DOP Carl Robertson ACS for having us on board. The film releases late 2016.

Closer to home we recently made the trek into Shipsterns Bluff with Allan Hardy. Carrying in the drone, camera rigs plus all the batteries and associated equipment was quite an effort. Special thanks to Rian Taylor and Gene Miller who came along as pack horses! We were there to capture shots of big wave surfer Ryan Hipwood trekking in and getting ready to surf. The next day we flew the drone from a boat around the Tasman Peninsula, this time chasing Ryan on a jet ski.

We’ve certainly seen our fair share of stunning Tasmanian coastline lately, having just finished a video for the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Tasmania.
Tom directed and shot it, Tim Daff at Digital Ink produced it and there was a real local flavor to this production with Tobi Armbruster as sound recordist and Caleb Miller writing the music soundtrack. Fellow ACS Tas member Mike Sampey edited the whole thing and ACS member Pete Harmsen covered the gala launch.
We are very happy with the result. Take a look for yourself at…

Westpac Rescue Helicopter video »

For the ‘heli to heli’ components of the shoot we used the MoVI stabilizer, inverted on the Steadicam, worn by me in the back seat of a Squirrel helicopter.
Tom then operated the pan, tilt, roll, focus and zoom controls remotely from the front passenger seat. We used a Nikon 24-70mm lens and I had control of the iris via the Red Epic touch LCD screen, mounted on the Steadicam arm. This system worked really well and allowed us to get lots of different shots without needing to swap prime lenses with the door open on the helicopter.

Finally, our car mounts have also had a work out, shooting commercials ‘on the road’, including cyclists and motorbikes with Joshua Lamont, using our ARRI Alexa Mini camera and using local ACS member Richard Williams’ new Zeiss Compact Prime lenses. We have full remote pan, tilt, roll, focus, iris and monitoring inside the car, which makes for safe and efficient filming. We also had full duplex comms with the motorcyclists while on the road.

The WLF cycling video can be seen here:

WLF cycling video »

Meanwhile back in the office between shoots, development is always progressing on a new series of drones, and we are now testing a top-mounted model, enabling us to look to the stars!
We’ve also added a drone team locally who fly smaller DJI Inspire drones, so if you have a smaller budget project with aerials in mind, please get in touch!

Malcolm In The Middle by Andy Cunningham

I had the privilege of filming Malcolm Turnbull on his first official appointment to Tasmania as Prime Minister. On the morning of Thursday the 29th October he arrived at Willow Court in New Norfolk to a packed and excited crowd of locals, including many school children, for a breakfast on the run and was initially greeted by Mayor Martyn Evans. As a cameraman it was fascinating to see the security services in operation as three personnel talked covertly to their wrists and quite comically resembled meerkats on the lookout out for predators.

Malcolm charmed the audience and it was so cramped in the hall that tripods were impossible to use, so I shot overlay from the shoulder for the start of our news story that resulted in the announcement of a new icebreaker to replace the Aurora Australis. Swamped by well-wishers expecting handshakes and selfies the PM only had time to drink a cup of tea before his next appointment. I was told to stay to the end of his engagement ‘in case we get something the other networks miss’, which actually only resulted in a bemused expression of ‘why are you still here’ as Martyn Evans invited the first couple for an open holiday in the Derwent Valley. It was a great job but I’ll have to wait to get the selfie next time!

Beau Molloy

Over the last few months I’ve been lucky enough to go on a few trips to Africa to shoot CNN’s feature programs. The list of countries includes Malawi, Zambia, Ethiopia and Mauritius, but the shoot in the Seychelles was particularly amazing.

The program theme was conservation and I teamed up with my wife Brooke who produced this half-hour monthly show called Inside Africa. We shot over six days with a frantic travel and production schedule resulting in not much sleep, but it’s not so bad when you’re in paradise!

The show consisted of three main stories. For the first, we flew to the northern-most island in the archipelago, where hundreds of thousands of birds land each year during their migration. Aptly named ‘Bird Island’, this isolated and privately owned eco-tourism resort was helping shelter and protect many precious species from predators. On our second story we teamed up with the Reef Rescuers on Praslin Island, following an NGO as they restored coral reefs through unique transplanting methods after the El-Nino event bleached and killed 97% of the Seychelles coral population. For our final story we headed to Curieuse Island, looking at the rise of volun-tourism and how it was helping to preserve the Giant Tortoise population and other amazing endemic species such as the Coco de Mer plant.

I shot most of the show on the Sony PMW-500 with a J14 and J22 but also used a 5dmk3 as a ‘B’ camera on interviews and on the Movi stabilizer. I also used a GoPro for a few underwater shots and it was perfect for placing at the mouth of a crab’s hole to catch them running out and back in, although they weren’t afraid of attacking it with their claws! Brooke wrote the script and I did the offline and online edit within five days - a tight turn around but the result was something we were both really proud of!

We were also ambushed by local TV! -

Seychelles News »

Another fun shoot that yielded great results was for a show called Human to Hero. It was a profile of world rally champion Seb Ogier, and it was a two day shoot in the French alps and then in Monaco. We had very limited access but managed to get great material. I shot using a C300, 5d mk3 as ‘B’ camera and used a GoPro for the in car shots. I also used the Edelkrone slider and the Movi stabilsier to enhance the production level and get a slightly more ‘film like’ feel to the pictures. They always take longer to set up and are slightly more time consuming to use but give so much more to the productions. I had two days to edit these shoots and I was really pleased with the result.

Looking forward to more fun and challenging shoots in the future!

Pawel Achtel

Photo: Nick Kermonde.

Unfortunately I find myself unable to attend the Vic/Tas ACS Awards, as I’m boarding a boat in Cairns on 27th November, departing, once again, for the Coral Sea. A busy program of night diving awaits me as November 30th is the predicted annual spawning event, and I simply can’t miss it, even though I hate to be away for the State Awards!

On a brighter note, it looks like we have secured full funding for Sea of Love 3D IMAX film and hope to have the final deal signed in the days before we head to sea. You can’t imagine how happy and excited I am right now. It’s taken me almost 20 years to get to this point and it’s fantastic to think this project is finally going to happen. With a budget of over $7million, this will be by far the largest underwater film ever made in Australia. It will be the world’s first under-water giant screen film to be shot in native 3D and in stunning 6k resolution. The finished product will be distributed globally, with a focus on China and North America.
 Paul Willey from Soundfirm is coming on board as the Exec Producer and Vectis Media Investments (part of the APPI group) are backing the project.

I’ve done some pre-shooting and scouting around Stradbroke Island earlier in the year. I was mainly focusing on Mantas as well as testing some new camera setups …which seems to never stop in our profession!

Mark Dobbin – Sumatra

As our plane descended into South Sumatra in Indonesia, we could already see the thick haze that was coming from fires across the region. I had expected to feel the effects of the choking smoke that has been blanketing Southeast Asia when Al Jazeera’s 101 East program asked me to cover the story. What I didn’t expect was to see small children, literally bathing in smoke in their own homes as their mothers tried to wash them. These fires, which happen inside or near paper and palm oil plantations, were particularly bad this year, releasing more greenhouse gases each day than the entire United States. It’s illegal for big companies to start fires to clear their land, but in reality, it’s cheaper to burn than to use heavy machinery. We went in search of evidence that these companies are actually burning on purpose. You’ll have to tune into the program Where There’s Smoke in early December to see what we found.

On assignment in Sumatra

Once again I had my trusty Canon C300. I still find it a great camera for these run-and-gun doco style shoots. I was shooting in vans, choppers and planes and I find it very manageable in tight environments. I like the weight and size of the camera and it held up well in the humidity, smoke and dirt.

One highlight of the shoot was being able to help a premature baby girl who had fluid on her lungs because of the pollution. Her parents couldn’t afford to take her to a private hospital, but after we posted about it on social media, viewers pitched in to get her some better treatment. It came at the same time as the much-needed rain, which put out many of the fires, although forecasters are predicting they will start again early next year.

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