The second member of our judging panel we want to introduce you to is the incomparable Pieter de Vries from PDV Digital Cinema Training. Piet is a member of the Australian Cinematographers Society and a Cinematographer extraordinaire having worked for the likes of National Geographic, James Cameron and most recently in Antarctica.

1. What is the first gig you ever did?

Working for the Commonwealth Dept on Census and Statistics in Canberra. I sat alone in a windowless cement bunker, I was issued with a self-inking number stamper, a bottle of black ink and a rubber thimble for my thumb. My gig was to stamp a number starting at zero on the millions of bound completed census forms that had been bound into books. There were over 500,000 piled up to the roof in this bunker. I lasted six months. I then worked in a photographic darkroom at the ANU, making colour and large B&W prints. I learnt the essence of photography here. Better than stamping census forms!

2. What are you working on at the moment?

I’m currently running One-to-One training for photographers and small-groups – banks and government departments in Sydney, Canberra, Melbourne and NT. I travel internationally regularly throughout the year as a guest speaker and I present talks on my work as a cinematographer and photographer. Not so much at this time. I work as a mentor on expeditions to Antarctica, Arctic, the Russian Far East, Galapagos Islands and lots of other wonderful places. I’m hoping to publish a book of my photography later in the year and as a DoP, I have the worlds’ best gig.

3. Where do you draw your inspiration from?

From the things and the people that I see in my travels and locally where I live in Bilgola on Sydney’s northern peninsular. From cinematographers and photographers too numerous to list but including the cinematographers and location recordists who work on the documentaries narrated by Sir David Attenborough. I contribute to these documentaries but consider myself somewhat an interloper in this genre

4. What do you like to do when you’re not working?

I play guitars, sing and practice the ukulele – lots of things musically. Photography before sunrise is a passion all year round.

5. What are some memorable moments from your career?

Diving to the wreck of the Titanic
Being weightless in space
Making a documentary about the Trans-Siberian Railway
Spending a year in South America shooting a ten part series for the ABC and BBC
Making the documentary “Four” about Antonio Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons”
Trying to learn to speak Spanish

6. What’s your favourite movie and why?

Casablanca. Love this movie on so many levels. Story, cinematography, the actors and the overall ambience of the era so wonderfully portrayed.

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