REAL PEO­PLE.

CAM­ERA OP­ER­A­TOR AN­DREW CONDER GIVES A RARE GLIMPSE INTO WHAT IT’S LIKE ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE LENS

The Gold Coast Bulletin - Gold Coast Eye - - CONTENTS - AS TOLD TO EMILY MACDON­ALD

Is­tarted in the in­dus­try when I was 18 and had just left high school, so that’s been 36 and a bit years. started out on Wom­bat as a cam­era as­sis­tant learn­ing off some re­ally great peo­ple.

Wom­bat was all about bring­ing in­ter­est­ing things from around the world to Aus­tralian chil­dren, so it was a great job.

One day we were sit­ting around a wa­ter­hole in Africa and there was this stand off be­tween a herd of ele­phants and a croc­o­dile.

The croc­o­dile wanted to bask where the ele­phants were drink­ing, but they kept suck­ing up wa­ter and squirt­ing it at him un­til he even­tu­ally moved on.

I moved along the ranks at Wom­bat un­til the show died. I sup­pose noth­ing can last for­ever.

They wanted me to do news and cur­rent af­fairs for Chan­nel 7, but that wasn’t the di­rec­tion I wanted to go.

So I went free­lance and had to work my way up again from an as­sis­tant to the di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy.

There have been so many ca­reer high­lights but among them has to be work­ing with my di­rec­tor of pho­tog­ra­phy idols Don McAlpine on Peter Pan and Dar­ius Khondji on The Ru­ins.

Dur­ing the first part of my ca­reer I did put my fam­ily first, so I of­ten chose to work close to home if I could. I’d go to Mel­bourne to shoot The Sad­dle Club in­stead of go­ing over­seas.

My daugh­ter Shayler is 24 now and my son Sam is 20.

Their mum Rachel was re­ally un­der­stand­ing and help­ful with the juggle and my cur­rent wife Fiona is the same.

It was re­ally hard, but for­tu­nately my chil­dren loved com­ing on set with me and hang­ing out with dad.

I found I was a dad in th­ese in­tense bursts of time. I’d be work­ing long hours, leav­ing be­fore they got up and back after they went to bed, but then there’d be a few months be­tween projects where I was home all the time.

It was great when the Gold Coast started at­tract­ing in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion and Hol­ly­wood started com­ing to us rather than me go­ing to them.

Big pro­duc­tions I’ve worked on re­cently in­clude Pi­rates of the Caribbean and The Shal­lows. At first the set for my cur­rent job on Bureau of Mag­i­cal Things was go­ing to be moved to Bris­bane and I was dread­ing the M1, so it’s fan­tas­tic it's film­ing in Arun­del where I live.

Bureau of Mag­i­cal Things is very sim­i­lar to work­ing on any of the other Johnathan M. Shiff pro­duc­tions I’ve worked on like Mako and H20: Just Add Wa­ter.

He gets the same good peo­ple work­ing around him and it’s like com­ing home to fam­ily.

This time in­stead of mer­maids it has more of a city feel and is less about wa­ter as it’s fo­cused on fairies and elves, so I’m try­ing to give it a slightly dif­fer­ent un­der­tone.

The Gold Coast is the per­fect place for any pro­duc­tion to shoot in. Just look at the weather – we haven’t had one bad day.

The Gold Coast City Coun­cil is also re­ally happy to help out film­mak­ers – I’ve found them quite easy to work with.

We have such a di­verse range of lo­ca­tions from the beach to the moun­tains in such a con­tained area, so it’s not like you need to be send­ing crews out ev­ery­where.

My big­gest ad­vice to as­pir­ing cam­era op­er­a­tors is don’t try to go too big too early.

Take the time to learn from peo­ple who have been in the in­dus­try a long time.

It’s not just about get­ting the right shots, it’s about be­ing able to do so time after time un­der ex­treme pres­sure and dur­ing long hours.

There’ll be times when you’ll be work­ing harder than you could imag­ine and times when there’s no work around. That’s the time a lot of peo­ple choose to leave. It’s why you’ve got to have pas­sion for the in­dus­try.

“MY BIG­GEST AD­VICE TO AS­PIR­ING CAM­ERA OP­ER­A­TORS IS DON’T TRY TO GO TOO BIG TOO EARLY.”

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