Born in Manchester the same year the Beatles were awarded the MBE, Simon Riera emigrated to New Zealand with his family when he was roughly ten.
While studying geology at Otago University he worked as an extra on car chase movie Shaker Run (1985). Riera was hooked. With his graduation papers and 87 application letters behind him, he finally got a job sweeping floors at an Auckland film studio. Once inside the door, he wrangled his way into becoming a video cameraman.
Two years later Riera decided he needed to learn about celluloid. For the next six years he boned up his film skills as a freelance camera assistant, learning the skills of clapper loader, film loading and 'pulling' focus.
In 1994 a special season of Kiwi short films played at the Cannes Film Festival. Riera worked on five of the eight. Among them he was director of photography on Lemming Aid — runner-up for best short at Cannes — camera operator on Eau De la Vie, and DoP on The Model, which kickstarted an extended working relationship with director Jonathan Brough. Since then the two have worked together on short films set in a wide variety of locations: among them acclaimed Antarctic drama No Ordinary Sun, otherworldly odd couple tale Snowmen, and early film Permanent Wave, which distills the experience of being a Kiwi in London into one 10-minute-take.
Since the year that Kiwi shorts conquered Cannes, Riera has been director of photography on 25 shorts and counting. In 1994 he also got his first big television job, bringing a distinctively fluid handheld style to current affairs drama Cover Story. Riera followed it with episodes of detective series Duggan, fantasy Mirror Mirror, and three feature films, each of which mixed comedy and drama: Anthony McCarten adaptation Via Satellite (1998), relationship comedy Hopeless (2000) — the first local feature shot digitally, then transferred to 35mm for theatrical release — and road movie Kombi Nation (2003), shot largely across Europe.
Riera has also been director of photography on Xena: Warrior Princess and many episodes of the Power Rangers franchise. Power Rangers director Greg Aronwitz later invited him to the United States to shoot feature-length children's adventure Labou. Riera was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit in August 2005, which required some swift scheduling changes.
In 2010 Riera won a Qantas award for his moody work as director of photography on local thriller The Cult. The series follows a disparate group of people who leave the city and attempt to free friends and loved ones from a cult. Riera shot it on the RED digital camera. He went on to work with James Cunningham on the live-action footage for a number of eye-popping shorts made at Auckland's Media Design School, among them submarine tale Das Tub, Over the Moon, and The Deadliest Game, which marks the screen debut of gun-strapping anti-hero Dr Grordbort.
Cinematographer website. Accessed 1 September 2014
Hopeless Press Kit