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The Australian Cinematographers Society ~ Prepared by Ron Windon ACS Historian and Past Federal and NSW State President

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The Silent Period (1895-1929)

History indicates that the Frenchman Louis Lumiere invented in 1895 the world’s first motion picture camera. He called it the Cinematographe, and it could be said that Lumiere’s invention gave birth to the production of motion pictures. Soon after, Australia rapidly and enthusiascally embraced this exciting development and before long, the Australian film industry became one of the most prolific film producers in the world, even so far as producing the world's first full length feature film in 1905, “The Story of the Kelly Gang” photographed by Millard Johnson, Ollie Perry and Reg Perry. This was the beginning of Australia’s newfound film industry, and gave birth to many imaginative Australian cinematographers that were to follow in their wake – silent day greats such as Lacey Percival - Arthur Higgins - Reginald Edwards - Bill Trerise – Walter Sully etc.

With the advent of sound technology in the late 1920s came the first "talkies", and a new era in terms of cinematography was born. Movietone News and Cinesound Review led the field in the production of cinema newsreels whilst Cinesound was also engaged in the production of major feature films. From 1929 to 1970 a new breed of cinematographer started making names for themselves, George Heath, Ross Wood, Syd Wood, Carl Keyser, Ron Horner, Keith Loone, John Leake, Ted Taylor, George Lowe, Volk Mol, Bren Brown, Robin Copping etc. plus a number of others.

However during the 50s & 60s the Australian feature industry fell into the doldrums, with very few films being produced, in fact no Australian feature films were produced between 1959 and 1966. The local industry was clearly on the decline. Consequently most cinematographers relied on shooting cinema newsreels and documentaries, i.e. until television came to Australia in 1956.

This opened the way for our cinematographers to get involved in the shooting of television commercials plus major TV series and gain a great deal of lighting experience.

Founding of the Australian Cinematographers Society (1958)

Since the arrival of television in 1956, with many new faces, young and old, now in the world of cinematography, there seemed to be a need for some form of basic group to gather together for the betterment of Cinematography. After a few informal discussions among a group of leading cinematographers, they decided to act. The first meeting was held at the Film Club in Sydney, on September 12, with an attendance of well over 50. Syd Wood – Movietone News Chief Cameraman was elected chairman. The meeting was very convivial and most attending felt that the time had come to weld themselves into a group. A further meeting was held on Friday, October 31, 1958. The agenda, "The proposed formation of an Association of Cinematographers." At this meeting Syd Wood was elected Chairman, Ron Horner (Secretary) and Keith Loone (Treasurer), plus a committee of eight highly respected cinematographers. Their aim, to further the advancement of cinematography in Australia, both professionally and socially.

On November 28, 1958, the elected committee held their first general meeting and had the pleasure of having an overseas guest in attendance, British cinematographer Gordon Dines BSC. Gordon was in Australia as DOP on the Ealing Studios Production “The Siege of Pinchgut”.

Gordon Dines spoke of his vast experience and enlightened us about the role of the British Society of Cinematographers in the UK film industry. In conclusion his talk brought a response of loud applause from his audience of Australian Cinematographers.

At a further meeting and after some slight amendments, the association was officially named the Australian Cinematographers Society. The ACS was created for all cameramen, young and old, for the betterment of Cinematography, and although the "Senior Citizens" may have dominated the early formation, it is indeed gratifying to see so many younger faces now serving on the Executive.

Apart from Accredited cinematographers, the ACS welcomes assistants, operators, focus pullers etc. into its fold with no discrimination. However, to obtain accreditation with the right to use the letters ACS after one’s name there are strict guidelines that must be met, so one has his work assessed by his peers and must have a proven record in the industry.

On the first Thursday evening of every month we hold evenings at our beautiful clubhouse that are both social and educational. Sometimes there is a demo of the latest equipment, and conduct Q&A nights where DOPs screen their latest work and the young less experienced camera-persons have the opportunity to learn by socialising with, and listening and asking questions of the DOP.

Australian Feature Film Industy (1965-1995)

The 1965-1995 thirty year period seen a re-birth of Australia’s feature film industry and a new breed of young Australian Cinematographers photographing successful Australian films such as those listed below.

Georgio Mangiamele ACS “Clay” (1965)
Andrew Fraser ACS “Journey Out of Darkness” (1967)
Mick von Bornemann “Color Me Dead” (1969)
John J. Williams ACS “Nickel Queen” (1971)
Robin Copping ACS “Stork” (1971)
John McLean ACS “The Cars That Ate Paris” (1974)
Graham Lind ACS “Stone” (1974)
Geoff Burton ACS “Sunday to Far Away” (1975)
Russell Boyd ACS ASC “Picnic at Hanging Rock” (1975)
Peter James ACS ASC “Caddie” (1976)
Mike Molloy ACS BSC “Mad Dog Morgan” 1976
David Gribble ACS “The FJ Holden” (1977)
Jerry Marek ACS “Summer City” (1977)
Ray Henman ACS “Little Boy Lost” (1978)
Vince Monton ACS “Newsfront” (1978)
Richard Wallace ACS “Weekend of Shadows” (1978)
Don McAlpine ACS ASC “My Brilliant Career” (1979)
David Eggby ACS “Mad Max” (1979)
Gary Hansen ACS “Harlequin” (1980)
Ron Johanson ACS “Death Games” (1980)
Dean Semler ACS ASC “Mad Max 2 – The Road Warrior” (1981)
Keith Wagstaff ACS “The Man From Snowy River” (1982)
Yuri Sokol ACS “Man of Flowers” (1983
Ross Berryman ACS “Bush Christmas” (1983)
Peter Moss ACS ASC “Flashpoint” (1984)
Ernie Clark ACS “Robbery Under Arms” (1985)
Jan Kenny ACS “Fran” (1985)
Paul Murphy ACS “Bliss” (1985)
Geoffrey Simpson ACS “Playing Beatie Bow” (1986)
Peter Levy ACS ASC “The Edge of Power” (1987)
Stephen Windon “Come in Spinner” (1990)
Ron Hagen ACS “Romper Stomper” (1992)
Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC “Babe” (1995)

These cinematographers played a major role in making the above Australian films very successful popular box office attractions. Most of these cinematographers have since gone on to have very successful careers both in Australia and Internationally. I should also mention Mark McDonald, David Muir ACS BSC, and Peter Hannan ACS BSC who went to England in the 1960s and embarked on very successful careers.

Australian Winners of Major International Awards

Robert Krasker BSC ASC

Robert Krasker BSC ASC
Born: August 13, 1913 in Perth, Western Australia. (Few people are aware of this fact)
Died: August 16, 1981 (age 68) in London, England, UK
Cinematographer of 41 major feature films
Winner of 1950 Academy Award for best Cinematography “The Third Man”

Russell Boyd ACS ASC

Russell Boyd ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 73 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 15 Major awards for cinematography including the 2003 Academy Award for best Cinematography “Master and Commander”

Dean Semler AM ACS ASC

Dean Semler AM ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 73 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 13 major awards for cinematography including 1990 Academy Award for Best Cinematography “Dances With Wolves”, 2013 American Society of Cinematographers “Life Achievement Award”

John Seale AM ACS ASC

John Seale AM ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 42 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 17 major awards including 1996 Academy Award for Best Cinematography “The English Patient”
2011 The first Australian cinematographer to be honoured with a lifetime achievement award at the Plus Camerimage Festival in Poland.

Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC

Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 45 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 24 major awards including 2002 Academy Award for Best Cinematography “Lord of The Rings”

Dion Beebe ACS ASC

Dion Beebe ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 29 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 13 major awards including 2006 Academy Award for Best Cinematography “Memoirs of a Geisha ”

Don McAlpine ACS ASC

Don McAlpine ACS ASC
Cinematographer of 57 Australian & US Feature films and TV series
Winner of 11 major awards including the 2012 The Raymond Longford Award, and the 2008 American Society
of Cinematographers International Award for Cinematography.

Australian Cinematographers Society ~ Award System

The Australian Cinematographers Society is proud to have an award system that covers all fields of cinematography, i.e. apart from feature films; we also honour those fine cinematographers that specialise in many other forms of cinematography, wildlife as an example.

The most outstanding cinematography of the year earns the cinematographer the ACS Milli Award and the title Cinematographer of the Year.

We also have the ACS Hall of Fame where those that are worthy are inducted.

Australian Cinematographers who are currently shooting major feature productions for cinema or television, or have films either in post production or films released in 2013

Adam Arkapaw: “Top of The Lake”
Andrew Lesnie ACS ASC: “The Hobbit”
Aron Leong ACS: “Breeding in Captivity”
David Burr ACS: “Mad Max – Fury Road” (DOP 2nd Unit)
David Eggby ACS: “The Chronicles of Riddick: Dead Man Stalking”
David Parker ACS: “John Doe-Vigilante”
Dion Beebe ACS ASC: “Into the Woods”
Don McAlpine ACS ASC: “Ender’s Game”
Garry Phillips ACS: “The Railway Man”
Germain McMicking: “The Second Coming”
Greig Fraser ACS: “Foxcatcher”
John Seale ACS ASC: “Mad Max – Fury Road”
Mandy Walker ACS ASC: “Just Got a Gun”
Mark Wareham ACS: “Felony”
Martin McGrath ACS: “Jack Irish-Dead Point”
Peter Borosh ACS: Capital Gains
Peter Holland ACS: “Drunktown’s Finest”
Peter Levy ACS ASC: “Reckless”
Peter Menzies Jnr. ACS ASC: “The Expendables 3”
Peter Moss ACS ASC: “Tell the World”
Roger Lanser ACS: “Cliffy”
Ross Emery ACS ASC: “I Frankenstein”
Simon Duggan ACS ASC: “Rise of an Empire”
Stephen Windon ACS: Universal’s “Fast and Furious Seven”
Toby Oliver ACS: “Wolf Creek 2”

ACS joins IMAGO ~ The European Federation of Cinematographers

It soon become evident that the ACS should lift its International profile, so, in 2008 after an invitation, the ACS joined IMAGO; The European Federation of Cinematographers. Our then Federal President, Ted Rayment ACS, was instrumental in us becoming a part of IMAGO by attending the Annual Assembly in Amsterdam and presenting our credentials. Since then we have been represented at all but one Assembly, in Estonia in 2011. In 2012 we witnessed IMAGO celebrating its 20th anniversary.

It was in 1992, when the legendary and much loved cinematographer, Luciano Tovoli AIC, invited his French, German, and British colleagues to the Italian society’s headquarters in Cinecittà, where they got together and created IMAGO: the European Federation of Cinematographers. Without doubt a truly International Federation representing the world’s cinematographers and the issues that confront them. The ACS is now proud to be an Associate member of IMAGO.

The Shadowcatchers: A History of Australian Cinematography

The ACS has realized many dreams since 1958, none more than the recently published book, The Shadowcatchers: A History of Australian Cinematography superbly prepared and written by former cinematographer, Martha Ansara. The Shadowcatchers is a stylishly produced 288-page coffee table book presenting 380 photographs of working cinematographers taken on film sets from 1901 to the present. It includes a ground breaking, highly readable historical text, biographies of significant cinematographers, and fascinating personal anecdotes from some of the great characters of the Australian film industry, and proudly published by the Australian Cinematographers Society,

Finally, the Australian Cinematographers Society is proud of the role it has played in the development of Australian cinematography since the Society’s founding in 1958, and particularly proud of its members and their standing in the international world of cinematography.

If there are any errors in the above listing I sincerely apologize.

Prepared by Ron Windon ACS
Historian and Past Federal and NSW State President


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