Cushla Lewis Gender Diversity Program:
These placements are an important part of our strategic plan to increase the numbers of women within the world of cinematography. They would not be possible without funding from NZ Film Commission, and the hard work and backing from the productions who agree to take on the placements. Productions not only meet the NZCS halfway in funding (and in cases like this one, more than halfway), but there is also a large amount of behind-the-scenes work to ensure these placements run smoothly. In this particular instance, we would like to thank Line Producer Chloe Smith for making this opportunity possible.
Report from Bailey Mitchinson:
I was given the role of ‘Camera Trainee’ on the film The Power of the Dog, with Jane Campion directing and cinematographer Ari Wegner ACS, and quickly stepped up as a truck loader/2nd AC which was incredible.
Some of my responsibilities were to make sure all our camera gear was packed each day, stored and maintained. I put in slates, coordinated with Kath Thomas (script supervisor/the best), set up monitors and handsets and worked with the lighting department to get colour temperature readings to ensure consistency of location shots outdoors to studio. It was also important to me to always be identifying how I could support everyone in my team, which took priority.
Ari was constantly busy, though is so open in the way that she works - clearly, calmly and respectfully communicating with Jane, grips, lighting, art, etc. - that it made learning from her very accessible, just from being welcome to be a part of communications that I would normally not be involved in. My team allowed me to neglect a lot of my menial responsibilities (the truck was a mess), which is rare, to allow me to get the most on-set time, learning all the nuances that you could never pick up otherwise.
I was able to build on my existing technical skills, Dan Foeldes (A Cam 1st AC) and Ben Rowsell (B Cam 1st AC) were always willing to pass on their knowledge and go into depth with how everything works and why, and I especially appreciated Ben coaching me with practical hands-on skills (filter changes, camera builds, etc). Nick Willoughby (A Cam 2nd AC) and Jimmy Bollinger (B Cam 2nd AC) encouraged me to step in for them on a regular basis, becoming ‘my trainee’. I love them.
I’m sure there’s always a strong sense of camaraderie on away-jobs, though both my personal and professional development benefited from the way the crew bonded within, and across departments. It was exceptional. The open and supportive culture that we had was an environment that fostered huge development for me. This included the warmest, constructive feedback from other departments as well as my own. I intend to do everything I can to contribute to creating an environment like this going forward in my career.
For me the greatest value of a placement like this is having that wider support-net. It’s hard to navigate contracts and gain confidence in what you’re entitled to as someone less experienced. It’s hard to ask for a wage that represents your role and skill set accurately. It’s been such a privilege to have had that on this job, thank you. I’d also love to thank in particular; Chloe Smith, Tanya Seghatchian, Libby Sharpe and Moira Grant - for the opportunity, for taking the time to regularly check in, and for being real good to me.
Report from Line Producer Chloe Smith:
The production has extended Bailey's tenure beyond the NZCS/NZFC contribution and this should be taken as further affirmation of her positive experience, positive presence and contribution to the on-set team and this production. We fully support the NZCS gender diversity initiative, and the memory of Cushla Lewis who was such an important protagonist in establishing this opportunity.
Report from Ben Rowsell, B Camera 1st AC:
Bailey Mitchinson joined the camera team under the NZCS gender diversity program. Bailey & I first met at the airport en route to the South Island location, and I was relying on her NZCS affiliation and reputation with camera crew from previous jobs.
The camera team was headed up by Cinematographer Ari Wegner, ACS, who travelled with her regular 1st AC Daniel Foeldes, and LA based Kiwi Grant Adams, SOC, as Operator & Steadicam Op. Bailey quickly settled into her role working alongside local 2ndACs Nick Willoughby and Jimmy Bollinger to provide valuable support for the on-set shooting crew.
The main set operated primarily as a single camera shoot, with Ari calling in A or B camera teams depending on the requirements of the scene. Bailey quickly had a comprehensive understanding of our equipment and was able to support either camera team as required. When not required on the main set, B Camera would splinter off to shoot additional content, and having someone as competent as Bailey to shuttle gear between sets was invaluable.
Director Jane Campion and 1st AD Phil Jones wanted to run an intimate set, and Bailey was quiet but attentive, always on hand to help with the gear, assist with blocking, etc.
When we returned to Auckland for the studio set work, Bailey was able to step up when one of our 2nd ACs was absent, and did an excellent job. At the end of her term Line Producer Chloe Smith generously agreed to extend Bailey’s contract to the end of the shoot.
In March 2020 along with many other productions in New Zealand and around the world we were cut short by the Covid-19 lockdown, with a block of the film still to be shot. With the intent to complete the shoot later in the year I'm looking forward to having Bailey back again as part of the team and hope to see her in the future on other jobs.
TPOTD shot with Alexa LF & LF Mini Cameras, and Panavision Ultra Panatar 1.25 X Anamorphic Lenses from PVNZ.