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Hero image for Stuart Dryburgh: on working with Jane Campion, Vincent Ward and Lee Tamahori...

Stuart Dryburgh: on working with Jane Campion, Vincent Ward and Lee Tamahori...

Interview – 2011

Cinematographer Stuart Dryburgh is the eye behind some of the most iconic images in New Zealand film. His first job in the industry was as a 'general assistant' on Middle Age Spread. From there he worked as a gaffer (electrician) on classic films like Smash Palace and Goodbye Pork Pie, before becoming a fully-fledged cinematographer. Since shooting The Piano, Dryburgh has mainly working overseas, although he returned to film In My Father's Den in 2004.

In this ScreenTalk, Dryburgh talks about:

  • Making his first film with the help of Lenny Lipton’s book Independent Film Making
  • The challenges of lighting a night shoot on short film Queen Street; and using film stock ordinarily reserved for news reporters
  • Meeting future collaborator Jane Campion on the set of Queen Street
  • Learning about method acting as a young gaffer on Smash Palace
  • Being put in charge of lighting on Vigil under 'über-prepared' director Vincent Ward
  • Getting creative with a "mass of messy light" on Alison Maclean's classic short film Kitchen Sink
  • Reuniting with Jane Campion for An Angel At My Table
  • Using "good, old-fashioned trick photography" on An Angel At My Table; and how they made Janet Frame's red hair "pop" on-screen
  • His thoughts on the "wonderful conundrum" that is Jane Campion
  • How he knew The Piano was going to be something special
  • The look director Lee Tamahori wanted for Once Were Warriors
  • Filming the infamous "cook me some eggs" scene
  • Why In My Father's Den was one of the easiest films he has ever been involved with
  • The advantage of being a Kiwi on American film sets
This video was first uploaded on 12 July 2011, and is available under this Creative Commons licence. This licence is limited to use of ScreenTalk interview footage only and does not apply to any video content and photographs from films, television, music videos, web series and commercials used in the interview.
Interview and Editing - Gemma Gracewood. Camera - Mark Weston
I think Jane is...she's a wonderful conundrum. She is as complicated as you might like to think she is, from the strangeness and the sometimes darkness of her work. She's also one of the most straightforward, down to earth, loving human beings you could ever want to know, which I think is also apparent in her work.
– Stuart Dryburgh describes director Jane Campion