Australian Cinematographer of the Year, Andrew Commis ACS, recently completed his FUJIFILM and ACS sponsored tour of Beautiful Kate.
As ever ACS President Ron Johanson ACS compiled a diary of all the proceedings. Jonanson said, “The tour began in Melbourne with a group of Victorian ACS members and colleagues present to watch the film, which was shot on Fuji negative and printed on Fuji stock, projected onto the big screen at the Lemac theatre. With the sound track volume lowered, Andrew (Commis) added his commentary throughout the movie, which was very candid and informative. Members of the audience were also able to ask questions directly to Andrew while the film was running. All in attendance agreed that this was a great way for the screening to take place giving maximum value to the audience. After the screening moderator Madelaine Swaine asked some of her own questions and fielded any unanswered questions from the audience.”
The next morning the tour moved onto Adelaide, where Commis was placed in the capable hands of Ernie Clark ACS and the SA committee. The screening that evening, was held at the Mercury Cinema and once again Commis commented during the screening of his evocative film, enlightening the audience about the challenges and problem solving that he faced on Beautiful Kate.
Johanson continued, “Andrew, as always was very generous, passing on all sorts of info from how he lit scenes, art department tips, approach to the film’s flashbacks and his on-set dealings with both the director, Rachel Ward and the actors, including Ben Mendelsohn and Rachel GrIffiths.”
The next day was the WA Branch screening, hosted by WA President, Jason Thomas and his committee with the screening taking place at The Jaffa Room theatrette.
Johanson added, “This was the perfect venue for such an intimate screening with its leather couches, retro chairs and bean bags to boot. The 35mm screening was a pleasure for all to watch, and having Andrew on hand to answer those questions that just couldn’t wait was a rare privilege. But it was after the screening that everyone realised just how forthcoming Andrew was with his information and insights into the shooting of Beautiful Kate. He told the assembled about everything from lens testing to on set lighting. He explained his method and how he approached the production and his reasons for doing so. It was one of those nights where camera people of all levels came away with something they could apply to their own skill-set for the future. It was not only a technical and artistic exploration for attendees, but also an inspirational one.”
The tour then moved to the legendary State Cinema in North Hobart where Commis joined ACS Tasmania President, Peter Curtis ACS and Treasurer, David Hudspeth, along with Evan Maloney amongst 120 others. At the theatre a diverse group of people joined ACS Tasmania members to watch Beautiful Kate. There was a contingent of students from Rosny College’s VET Screen Course, as well as local filmmakers, producers, writers, directors and various freelance operators. Joining them were a number of people who had expressed an interest in coming along, due to their keen interest in Australian films and a desire to learn more about the making of a film such as this, from an industry insider.
Ron Johanson said, “The audience was simply spellbound during the screening and moved by the stunningly styled images and the sometimes disturbing and tragic story. There were a diverse range of questions, some were technical, but many were more about the art of movie making and how Andrew approached the production of this specific film. There was much interest in how Andrew collaborated with director, Rachel Ward. Andrew talked us through his approach to the visual design and the work he did in pre production, testing film stocks, lenses and shooting styles. This screening was a great way for the ACS and our sponsor FUJIFILM to contribute to the development of screen culture in Tasmania.”
The final stop on the tour was Canberra where the ACS and the National Film and Sound Archive hosted the screening in their impressive ARC Cinema.
Johanson commented, “Everyone was particularly delighted to see such a great looking print in such a wonderful space. Andrew commented that this was the best he had seen it projected. Following the screening was a very informative discussion where Andrew enlightened us on his stylistic approach to the look of the film and how he had matched many of the farmhouse location interiors in a studio environment.”
Commenting on the tour Andrew Commis ACS said, "It's an incredible privilege to be asked to present your work to your peers, at anytime. The turnouts were enthusiastic and I was keen to keep it as informal and open as possible. I wanted anyone to feel free to ask a question, and happily they did. In places like Hobart and Canberra where the ACS numbers are on the lower side, the screenings were opened up to regular passionate cinema goers, whose questions were equally valid and considered. It's nice hearing their thoughts first hand, that's when you know you've done your job. It was a great opportunity to actually meet folks from other branches and you could feel a renewed enthusiasm, a bit of inspiration perhaps for the next thing they might be shooting, whether that be corporate, documentary or student film. There's something special about sharing a unique craft, there's not that many that do it and it can get a little lonely at times! I’d like to say a special thanks to Fujifilm for making it possible, Ron Johanson for his drive and all the state and territory branches for their fine hospitality.”
With the tour over Ron Johanson reflected on what had been an inspirational few days. He concluded, “There are many people to thank for their contribution to the success of the tour. First and foremost is Andrew Commis ACS who gave so freely of his time for members, colleagues and friends alike. Also FUJIFILM and particularly Marc Van Agten, Simon Murphy, Ali Peck and Geissa Alonso for the support and encouragement they give to the Society and our members on a daily basis. I’d also like to mention the committees of the Victorian, South Australian, Western Australian, Tasmanian and ACT branches. You guys rock! There are countless others including Rachel Ward, Leah Churchill Brown and Bryan Brown, The National Film & Sound Archive, Reece and Roadshow, John and Sue Bowring and all at LEMAC, Deluxe Media Logistics and many others who I’m sure will forgive me as I can’t name them all. Beautiful Kate is an excellent example of what Australian filmmakers are capable of and this tour was a brilliant showcase of the industry and those who help keep it alive.”
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