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Camera and Lighting for Drama Masterclass with Alun Bollinger

01 Aug 2022 9:47 AM | Amber Wakefield (Administrator)

All photos taken by Producer / Photographer Julie Gursha

Christchurch was treated to a masterclass in early July catering to a range of experience levels, some in the early stages while others already deep into their careers. Taught by the legendary New Zealand cinematographer Alun Bollinger NZCS, or more affectionately known as AlBol.

The day began with a discussion on filming techniques from the Peter Jackson classic “Heavenly Creatures” where AlBol talked through an assortment of problems and the various creative ways of solving them. One such technique involved attaching a bungee cord to the ceiling to allow for long handheld takes and whip-pans, pre-dating the introduction of the easyrig.


We then moved into a more practical exercise of basic 3 point light before quickly “destroying” the technique and finding alternative ways of basic lighting set-ups. AlBol opened the floor to discuss any problems people have come across such as reflections in glasses, and the group worked to find fast, practical solutions.

At the lunch break the group headed around the corner to the local cafe for lunch, before setting up a scene within the same cafe. There was a discussion on blocking, where AlBol walked through the scene with the talent and talked about which angles he’d shoot at and why. Local gaffer Zac Beckett-Knight was on hand to demonstrate the DP-Gaffer relationship and worked quickly with his team to get through the multiple setups of the afternoon session.


The informal nature of the afternoon allowed for a peppering of questions throughout the session. Something attendee Jem Anderson-Gardener described as a “highly beneficial and a great opportunity.” Anderson-Gardener was one of the ten successful applicants and said while a number of concepts were familiar to him, it was refreshing to explore them through the eyes and experiences of someone so seasoned. “As a young DP, it was really inspiring to hear Al talk about his considerable experience, and to watch the way he worked with the cast and crew during the practical stage.”


Michael Paletta was on hand as 1st AC and was supported by NZCS members Madison Ryan and Charlotte Panoho, who brushed up on the skills they’d picked up from the previous NZCS 1st AC masterclass.

The day concluded with a discussion on career options and overcoming obstacles faced by many emerging cinematographers. 

This masterclass was made possible from help from Brett Mills at Queenstown Camera Company (supplying the ARRI camera gear) and Screen Canterbury for their sponsorship.

~ John Ross, Cinematographer

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