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Richard Bluck


Richard Bluck was inspired to get into the film industry in the mid 70s, after watching this Pacific Films documentary about a car rally. He began knocking on doors until he found a job at Television New Zealand, as a trainee cameraman.  

Bluck found himself working at the newly built Avalon Television Centre near Wellington. Dreaming of rising to the position of director of photography, Bluck chose to work his way up through the camera department, upskilling as he went. 

Alongside camera work on a range of television documentaries, Bluck scored the job of focus puller on big-budget, big-screen adventure Savage Islands, and science fiction tale Battletruck. The latter saw Bluck working alongside soon to be Oscar-winning cinematographer Chris Menges (The Killing Fields).

In 1989 Bluck made a stylish debut as director of photography by collaborating with cameraman Grant Lahood on the classic short film Snail's Pace - a miniature time-lapse epic about a snail crossing the road. 

From commanding the camera on ambitious noise-clash comedy Valley of the Stereos, Bluck directed music videos for hip hoppers Southside of Bombay, and went on the road with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for 1993 doco In Bed with the Orchestra.

Bluck had also begun to win a reputation for his skills and stamina with the Steadicam - a free-flowing camera which is harnessed to the camera operator's body.  Bluck would bring his Steadicam style to selected scenes of Peter Jackson's Braindead, The Frighteners and The Lord of the Rings.

The 90s also saw Bluck collaborating with late director of photography Allen Guilford. Working under Guilford's command, Bluck operated the camera on a host of feature and TV projects, including ambitious TV productions Fallout and Greenstone, and underseen feature The Climb, which would win Guilford a cinematography gong at the 1997 Film and Television Awards. 

Bluck went on to shoot episodes of Duggan and The Strip. In 2004 he was chosen to film singer Hayley Westenra's American television debut, Live from New Zealand. 

Bluck made his debut as a a feature film director of photography two years later with Jonathan King's Black Sheep. The film presented many challenges, including dealing with the volatile skies of the Wairarapa during the wettest March in decades. Bluck's work was nominated for a New Zealand Film and Television Award. Bluck would face more weather challenges after reteaming with King for Maurice Gee fantasy Under the Mountain

In between filming killer sheep and slimy aliens, Bluck shot award-winning horror short Eel Girl, and was director of photography (and camera operator) on hit comedy Second-Hand Wedding, shot in just 24 days using a Thomson Viper digital camera. He went on to share camera duties (with DJ Stipsen) on long in gestation vampire hit What We Do in the Shadows. In 2015 Bluck was awarded Best Cinematography at the New York City International Film Festival for his work on black comedy How to Murder Your Wife, a TV movie based on a real life murder case in the 1970s. 

He was also director of photography on 3D Everest saga Beyond the Edge, which was filmed partly on Mount Everest itself. After the film debuted at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, The Toronto Star praised it as "gorgeous", "thrilling and dramatic". At Polish cinematography festival Camerimage, Bluck's work scored the award for Best 3D Documentary.

Bluck has also served his time commanding second unit shoots on locally-shot epics King Kong and Avatar. In 2011 he was director of photography on climate change drama Ice (not to be confused with the Marcus Lush series).

Bluck is also skilled in the complex art of filming miniatures: his work on The Two Towers would see him sharing an award from an organisation of American special effects professionals. Bluck also shot boat miniatures for Master and Commander, and train scenes for Martin Campbell's The Legend of Zorro.

Sources include
Richard Bluck website. Accessed 2 September 2015 
'As Bluck would have it' (Interview) - Onfilm, April 2008
Linda Barnard, '2013: 39 films reviewed' (Capsule review of Beyond the Edge) The Star website (Broken link). Loaded 28 August 2013. Accessed 2 September 2015