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Who are NZCS?

The New Zealand Cinematographers Society was established in 2008 to foster the profession of cinematography.  Today we have members from all image related fields. 

Join, and you become part of a network of image-makers working in all genres and across all distribution channels -from the web and TV, through to cinema and live shows.


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  • 11 Mar 2019 9:03 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    As cinematographers one of the roles we play are to interact closely with the actors and crew on set, and as HODs we are responsible for establishing a safe and trustworthy environment where performers and technicians can give their best work. Mental safety and health as well as physical safety and health are paramount considerations onset.

    On 6th March Amber (Executive Officer) and I attended a safety course around Rainbow inclusivity onset which falls under our gender diversity inclusivity philosophy. The four hour course was instigated by the Rurungi web drama series around LGBTQIA community funded by NZ on Air for Automaus Ltd. The session was run by Inside Out who you can find more out about here - insideout.org.nz


    It is estimated that one in twelve people identify as a sexual minority, meaning they belong within the LGBTQIA community. This means on a crew of forty eight, there are likely to be four sexual minority individuals present.

    Sexual minorities have a long history of feeling ostracized and persecuted for their sexuality. Statistically they are five times more likely to attempt suicide than cis gendered population, 59.4% likely to self harm and 41.3% likely to be depressed. This is attributed to minority stress from the following causes - stigma, discrimination, rejection from friends,  isolation, disconnectedness and perceiving a lack of respect or understanding

    One of the best ways we can support a vulnerable minority is to use language that is respectful of their position. Language is a powerful tool, you reflect what you hear, and language is loaded with traditional biases that the user is often unaware of when they speak. Using language that is mindful helps to make people feel respected and safe.

    The session we attended put us through various exercises about understanding the categories of sexual minorities and what the potential misuses of common language may be . There are complicated and personal pronoun possibilities when it comes to ‘he’ or ‘she’ and we discovered how easy it was to fall into language stereotypes when we resorted to such binary identifiers in everyday conversation. 

    The simplest safe and respectful way is to refer to them by their name, so there is no need for a pronoun. It is also now considered safe and correct practice to use the pronoun ‘they’ or ‘them’ in the singular when referring to someone of uncertain gender pronoun. 

    It is considered ok to ask an individual upfront if they have a gender pronoun preference and it is also ok to make mistakes in the process of practicing respectful language.

    So in summation, when being mindful of onset inclusivity, with sexual minorities it is all about the gender pronoun and practicing its correct use for the individual to feel included and respected. 

    Simon Raby
    NZCS President


  • 19 Feb 2019 1:15 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)


    In December I shot a webseries called ‘Butt Dial’, directed by Annie Duckworth. It was a particularly interesting shoot because we decided to shoot the whole thing on a phone – a Samsung Galaxy Note S9, using the Filmic Pro app. It was also an interesting shoot because it was shot entirely in toilets!

    Shooting with phones carries its own set of advantages and challenges. It worked because the story demanded to be shot on a phone, as it is supposed to resemble a facetime call between two friends. Using a phone also reduces the space you take up, a big advantage in bathroom locations! I don’t think the project would have worked on any other camera.

    There were also some challenges. I shot in a log profile and at the highest settings available, but having never edited/graded phone footage before (besides the test!), it’s difficult to predict how it will look once it’s been onlined. I also found that the frame rate tended to drift a little bit and not be a 100% accurate 25fps.

    Another fun aspect of the shoot was our small female crew. It was a female driven concept, so it made sense to make it a 100% female crew. It can be done!

    Butt Dial will be on TVNZ On Demand in April.

    BTS photos kindly provided by Zihan Chang.

    ~ Ainsley Calderwood, NZCS committee member


  • 05 Feb 2019 9:05 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)


    The film 'Suspiria' shot by Luciano Tovoli, and directed by Dario Argento, is seen as the high point of 1970's Italian, and indeed European horror. This Masterpiece of mood, lighting and mayhem, has recently turned 40, and has spawned a current remake, and also a book. I caught up with Luciano and had a conversation about all this.

    Luciano, how did you come to be on the project?

    Dario Argento contacted me direct - to propose to me to be the 'Suspiria's Cinematographer. I accepted.

    What was the film you had worked on before Suspiria?

    Leading up to this, I had worked on several Italian films and some French. Most notably Michelangelo Antonioni's masterpiece “The Passenger”.


    Was the look of the film your idea or a request from Dario?

    Of course Argento had already a vision but my involvement in the film helped him to transform his dream in a precise colour dramaturgy. I made myself a lot of tests on colours and presented the tests to Argento who approved them, and we started to shoot the film without more meetings or consultations.

    Can you remember what stock, camera and lenses you used?

    The camera was a Technovision Camera with Technovision Anamorphic Lenses and the stock was the classic 5248 Eastmancolor.

    What shot in the film are you most proud of?

    Maybe the close up of Jessica Harper in the taxi at the beginning of the film.

    Tell us about the most difficult shots.

    Difficult.. The “grand final” with explosions and coloured lightning. Not one single shot of the film has been treated in post production.

    Where there planned shots that didn’t make the film?

    No. We fully realised all our imaginations.

    There is the remake of ‘Suspiria’ directed by Luca Gaudagnino which has been released this year – did you have any contact from them?

    No. Not any contact. I read Guadagnino declaring that he was immensely impressed by the colours of 'Suspiria' when he saw the film at the age of fourteen. This touched me a lot and ideally I give him all the liberty to do whatever he wants, and he is too intelligent and talented to try to make a faithful remake of 'Suspiria'. That would be in any case impossible.

    What is your view on the film being remade?

    No special opinion. Freedom for everybody to express his talent.

    A crucial part of being a Cinematographer, is being in control of, and guiding the look of the film. With a film as singular as 'Suspiria' this is doubly so. When we talked in Finland, you mentioned a transfer to Blue Ray that went very wrong – and you had no idea. What are your experiences of film to digital transfers?

    My experiences are absolutely positive especially when I am called to collaborate, but that it is not always the case. In my absence many errors can be made by a Colourist left alone. Unfortunately it happened for me four times with disastrous results.

    With the ascent of grading, and Colourists, do you think that Cinematographers are losing the rights to be truly authors of the image?

    Colourists are not my enemies but better they understand that the inspiration and realisation an the rights of the images belongs to the guy, the Cinematographer, who made the film. The Colourist can be victim of the tragic illusion often unfortunately under the encouraging eye of a Director, to believe to magically become the author of the images but it is only an illusion!  I do not blame them as I blame the Producer and more the Directors. In those cases I consider all of them like furtive night thieves putting their hands on some (pure images) that belong morally and artistically, essentially to others. 

    In those unfortunate cases the poor Colourists are only the physical instrument of the “crime.”

    Quite sad it is to note how even before to be legally recognised  Authors of the Cinematography and Co-authors of the film as we indubitably are, we risk very seriously to loose our status. For that IMAGO can be a defensive wall !

    You recently were interviewed for a fantastic book, by Piercesare Stagni and Valentina Valente entitled «On Suspiria and Beyond».  Was it a surprise that 40 years after the film, there is such love and interest for the film?

    What impresses me the most, is that two young Italian film historians like Valentina and Pierceare, as thousands or tens of thousands  and more of young and mature spectators all over the world continue to consider 'Suspiria', after forty years, as an exemplar essay of employment of colours on dramaturgical terms. 

    Let’s talk about the book.  I don’t think I have ever seen such a book – a talk about a film, from the Cinematographers perspective – how did it come about?

    We started at the beginning of the past year one very long interview around my career and we realised that we had enough material to print five books, and that was just speaking of the few of my films that, crossing the steep barrier of the Italian language, travelled the world. Frightened by this perspective and 2017 being the quadrennial of Suspiria we escaped the danger, deciding to analyse only this one !

    Luciano  - what have you been up to recently?

    Voluntary work for IMAGO as chair of the Authorship Committee. And recently I shot a film in my Tuscany with a young first time director.

    A quick and final, question regards Directors. You have worked with some of the more maverick directors in European film history – Argento, Antonioni, Schroeder, and Scola. Where you drawn to working with these directors, or where they drawn to you?

    I would like not to forget Vittorio De Seta, Maurice Pialat, Francis Veber and Andrei Tarkowski between the many who gave me the priviledge to collaborate at their films. With very few exceptions I have always been called by the directors through the vision of one of my films. Not through agent recommendations, not through producers calls and with this very simple system I made, at today, more than 80 films for theatres and exceptionally only two documentaries for television, a medium of which it's meaning of expression, is too much and too often misused on it's real potentiality.

    The Book 'On Suspiria and Beyond: A conversation with Cinematographer Luciano Tovoli'

    By LucianoTovoli, Piercesare Stagni and Valentina Valente (Artdigiland Press 2017) can be bought on Amazon, or direct from the publisher in Milan who can print a higher quality 'on demand' copy on request – contact Silvia Tarquini (silvia.tarquini@gmail.com).

    by Marc Swadel

    (Committee Member NZCS/Cinematographer member ACS)


  • 03 Dec 2018 2:05 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    On 1 July 2018 Inland Revenue has updated an expenditure determination regarding people working in the screen production industry. If you are required to work away from home, the determination will apply to you.

    The determination allows that from 1 July 2018, we are able to receive up to NZ$80 per day in per diem allowances.

    Per diems are paid exclusive of GST, so when you prepare your GST invoice, you will need to calculate GST on the per diems received. So if a per diem is paid is $80 and the GST is $12 this will be included on their invoice as $80 + GST of $12 = total of $92.  On the PAYE schedule the per diem is included but this is only at the $80. If a contractor is not GST registered, it is just the $80.

    Read the full guidelines here

  • 03 Dec 2018 1:18 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    The 2018/19 Data Book print edition is out now and to celebrate their 30th birthday they are distributing the latest copy free to the first 200 industry guild members that contact them and 30 exclusively for NZCS members.

    This years Data Book is crammed full with the latest information about New Zealand’s screen production industry professionals.

    The book also includes Studio and Crane Charts and other useful information for people looking at shooting films, television, web series or commercials in New Zealand.

    The print edition – like the online version – includes over 300 categories.

    “It is hard to believe this is Data Book’s 30th birthday. This year the book has gone from strength to strength,” says Data Book publisher Kelly Lucas. "We have increased the number of pages and listings which is a great sign of the strength of the industry and people engaging with the book and online. Website traffic has grown as well attracting continuing to attract a large number of New Zealand traffic and visitors from around the world. The feedback from last years book has been fantastic with people still wanting a print edition so we have published it again this year while the audience is still there, we also want to give back to the industry for supporting us so we have decided that the first 200 Industry guild members to contact us can receive a free print copy.” 

    The print edition of The Data Book costs $46 (inc gst) but if you are an industry guild member you can receive your copy for free (limited offer) please email Kelly Lucas with your name and preferred postal address on subs@databook.co.nz or phone 021 996 529 or check out the website http://www.databook.co.nz for the online version and get your free listing.

  • 03 Dec 2018 12:49 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    Camera Trainee Duration: 1 April – 30 August 2019 (4 weeks of prep + entire shooting period ).  Reports to A Camera 1st AC. An entry level position aimed at giving a very junior camera assistant the exposure of working on a large scale production. They will assist the 1st and 2nd AC’s onset. The aim would be for them to step up to a 2nd AC role on a large feature film. Candidate needs to be either a film school graduate with an interest in being in the camera department or someone who has just started working within the film industry, in the camera department.

    General Notes:

    - The successful applicant will need to be Wellington based for the duration of the internships

    - Must be an NZ citizen or permanent resident

    - The internships are paid positions

    - Applications close: January 31st, 2019


    Application Process

    - Please send an email to nzinfo@avtr.com

    - Make sure the subject is: 'Internship Application - Camera.'

    - Write a covering email which explains the position you are applying for and why you think you would be the ideal candidate for that department

    - Send a copy of your CV as well

    They will then select a pool of candidates from the applicants to meet and interview and then choose the intern from there. 

  • 12 Nov 2018 10:48 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    Of all the tools a cinematographer employs, the most important we have are our eyes. Recently there have been an increase in news articles outlining the damage that increased exposure to blue light waves does to our eyes. 

    Whilst we cannot completely avoid screen exposure to blue light spectrum, we can be mindful of the potential long term hazard. Many screens on computers and phones offer a warmer version of the screen, which can be taken advantage of when we are not colour balancing our work. In addition blue blocker lenses are now available for spectacles, which I wear whenever I am not required to assess colour accuracy. Don’t forget that sunglasses can also be excellent weapons in the fight against excess UV light exposure when working outside.

    The links below offer more information on the issue, as well as providing some interesting background on how our eyes actually work. 

    - Simon Raby NZCS, President

    https://www.forbes.com/sites/fionamcmillan/2018/08/11/how-blue-light-damages-cells-in-your-eyes/#6f73ef4a384b

    https://www.aoa.org/Documents/CRG/Blue%20Light%20and%20Eye%20Damage.pdf

    https://amp.theguardian.com/society/2018/aug/09/blue-light-from-phone-screens-accelerates-blindness-study-finds?__twitter_impression=true 
  • 08 Nov 2018 1:45 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    This workshop on a Saturday in mid-September was not to be missed by anyone with interest in top-end drone technology, and camera gimbal stabilisation systems. Held at Studio 230 in Ponsonby Rd, there was a most impressive array of equipment on hand for display, demonstration, and hands-on participation. 

    Notably featured were new products such as: DJI Inspire 2 drone, DJI Ronin 2 gimbal rig, Zenmuse X7 camera with Super35 sensor, DJI Masterwheels – a high precision electronic replica of the geared head system which are fully wireless remote control or cable, very heavy-lift drone systems for cameras like the Arri Alexa, very tiny drones at the other end of the scale, and displays by PLS, Imagezone and Mandy VFX.

    Centre-piece of the workshop was a panel discussion featuring local experts and NZCS members Murray Milne NZCS, Rob Marsh, Jess Charlton, and Sam Peacocke. As well as local DJI rep Jonathon Kubiak and Jiajia (River) Chen from DJI Global. Jae Morrison led a wide-ranging discussion. Encompassing tips and tricks from seasoned professionals, new cunning ways to mount and utilise systems like the Ronin 2, requests for new features or improvements to DJI gear (dutifully noted by River, to take back to the R&D team in China!) and thoughts on how this new wave of technology has revolutionised the way we move cameras.

  • 08 Nov 2018 1:28 PM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    Mid-August saw an enthusiastic turn-out of regulars and newcomers to listen to Denson Baker NZCS ACS, show clips and talk about his work on three main projects: the yet to be released feature film 'Ophelia' shot in the Czech Republic, a season finale episode of the English TV drama 'Victoria', and the award-winning NZ feature film 'The Dark Horse'.

    The evening hosted at Department of Post’s new facility in Newton Rd was kindly facilitated by Denson’s old film school buddy, Mark Lapwood ACS, and Murray Milne NZCS.

    Denson showed a great cross-section of his cinematography work, which was accompanied by some exciting previews and behind-the-scenes stills shots, showing very detailed technical set-ups. An informal atmosphere for relaxed discussion about his different creative approaches to the various projects and questions flowed from the audience.

    Of particular interest were some of Denson’s challenges. Such as shooting in real historical castles in the Czech Republic for Ophelia. Being a guest appearance as DP on Victoria, with an English crew who had settled into an established approach to lighting often-visited sets, which Denson didn’t necessarily feel the mandate to duplicate! Also, his varied visual approach to shooting the different mind states of Cliff Curtis in his lead role in The Dark Horse.

    The NZCS thanks accredited member Denson, for taking time out of his schedule to share, connect and discuss with members and friends. 


  • 26 Oct 2018 8:43 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

    Congratulations to all the nominees for this years NZCS Awards. It was a fantastic showcase of incredible work making us proud of the world-class industry we have all helped to create in little old New Zealand. Please see attached link to see the photographs from the night taken by White Door Event Photography. 


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