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President's Blog - November 2010

It is certainly a time for congratulations!

Firstly, to John Seale ACS ASC on being awarded the ASC International Award, which is presented annually to a foreign cinematographer in recognition of extraordinary achievements in films produced for the global cinema. This is so richly deserved by a man who is so incredibly generous and leads by example. He is a fine cinematographer, a true gentleman, a great bloke and still one of the best camera operators ever.

Other award recipients were Michael O'Shea (ASC Career Achievement in Television Award) and Douglas Kirkland (ASC Presidents Award).

On announcing the recipients, ASC President, Michael Goi ASC commented:
"John Seale, Michael O'Shea and Douglas Kirkland have earned the admiration of our members for their significant contributions to the artistry of image making, be it motion pictures or still photography."

ACS Historian, Ron Windon ACS has contributed a summary of John's achievements, which can be read later in the e-News.

The AFI nominees for Cinematography have just been announced and what a truly quality field of ACS members it is

Bright Star: Greig Fraser.
The Waiting City: Denson Baker ACS.
Maos Last Dancer: Peter James ACS ASC

Each of these films is unique in it's own way and have all been beautifully photographed. On behalf of all the members I congratulate each and every one of you on such wonderful work and wish you all well with the final result.

While on the subject of Awards, I've been fortunate enough to attend both the SA/WA and the VIC/TAS ACS awards judging sessions. Across the board the work has been of a very high standard. In the Features category, the entries in contention have included:

Bright Star: Greig Fraser.
Animal Kingdom: Adam Arkapaw
Mad Bastards: Allan Collins ACS
The Boys are Back: Greig Fraser
Nine: Dion Beebe ACS ASC
Beneath Hill 60: Toby Oliver ACS
The Waiting City: Denson Baker ACS
Charlie and Boots: Roger Lanser ACS
Wake: Jason Blount
South Solitary: Anna Howard ACS
Separation City: Steve Arnold ACS
Road Train: Carl Robertson ACS
Daybreakers: Ben Nott ACS
Ninja: Ross Clarkson ACS HKSC

An impressive list I'm sure you'll agree. But that's only some of the Features, let alone all the other categories. The work produced across all genres is simply breathtaking.

The 30th Anniversary SA & WA Awards are this Saturday Nov 5th at the Nova Cinema and the MC is South Australian actor Erik Thompson (Packed to the Rafters, The Boys are Back) whilst the special guest is cinematographer Geoffrey Simpson ACS. Awards admission tickets will be posted out during the week.

Geoffrey Simpson ACS will hold a special free ACS screening, followed by a Q&A of his new film The Tender Hook on Friday Nov 5 at the Iris cinema at 6:30pm. Something not to miss!

Why is it the commercial television networks still continue the appalling practice of reducing the size of the end credits of a program and running a promo over the top. They really don't get it, do they!?

ADG President, Ray Argall has, I believe hit the nail on the head with his recent comments in the ADG E Newsletter, regarding the "true state of our industry." If you have the opportunity to read it I recommend you do so.

Speaking as a working cinematographer, I often wonder if people, including those working at high levels in our industry and within our funding bodies know or understand the contribution the cinematographer brings to the overall project. This applies to all genres, not only feature films and drama.

With technology and capture mediums changing rapidly, in some cases too quickly to keep up with, is it easier than ever for those at the money end of the ship to think way too much about the back end and not what's actually going onto the screen. Checks and balances are important but please let's not throw the baby out with the bathwater!

Cinematographers here in Australia are often bewildered when it's suggested they compromise their results for the wrong reasons, are not required at the final grade, when, apart from the Director, who else really knows how the final film should look? As for Moral Rights for cinematographers, let's not even go there! Well, not this time anyway.

The recent tsunami in Sumatra is a terrible human tragedy, but the incredible work done by our News and Current Affairs cinematographers, journalists, producers etc. that was broadcast into our homes is testament to the bravery, the compassion and the ability that these amazing people possess. Once again, I take my hat off to you all.

Until next time...
Ron Johanson ACS
National President

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