ACS National President, Ron Johanson OAM ACS


Before we begin I would ask we stand and recognise the sad loss of Louis Irving ACS, who passed away after a battle with cancer. Lou left a huge legacy and he will be missed and remembered by many. Our thoughts are also with the family of legendary cinematographer, Michael Ballhaus BVK ASC, along with the family and friends of Jane Scragg and SA Branch stalwart Mark Evans whose beautiful wife Christine passed away suddenly at the end of March. For those who were fortunate enough to know her she will be remembered for her wonderfully engaging smile, her energy, and her positive outlook.

Our No 1 ticket holder, Ron Windon ACS is now confined to hospital care but is doing well. I cannot emphasise enough what the name Ron Windon means to the Society, and I know we all wish him well, and offer our full support to both Ron and Cathie, along with the Windon family.

On behalf of us all I want to acknowledge the enormous contribution from Warwick Field ACS as both Victorian President and ACS Board member, a position he has agreed to remain part of. But sadly we will lose his expertise as Branch President and the driving force behind the ACS Online shop. But much more than that Warwick revitalised and reinvented the Victorian Branch. During his tenure on the National Executive and the ACS Board he consistently offered a valued and clear opinion on how we can consider to continue the growth of the Society. I also want to recognise the support we have received over many years from Brett Dwyer at Lemac who is taking up a new position with another organisation and our good mate at Fujifilm, Simon Murphy who after 11 years at Fujifilm is moving onto newer pastures. Many thanks to you both.

In January I had the good fortune to attend the IMAGO Board meeting in London, which included attending the BSC Expo, which was outstanding.

Being one of 49 countries as part of IMAGO is a real bonus for us as a Society, as it’s inclusiveness really opens doors to many new ways of thinking. This was evident in the broad areas of discussion that took place, which included:

  • Establishing an IMAGO AWARDS committee to organize the very first Awards to be held in Helsinki in 2017. It was my great honour to be appointed Awards Committee Co -Chair. Each member country Society is invited to nominate 2 entries in the Feature film category and 1 each in TV Drama and Documentaries. I can reveal now that our nominations will be Stefan Duscio for BACKTRACK and Andrew Commis ACS for The Daughter in Features and Geoffrey Hall ACS for Wolf Creek in TV Drama and Abraham Joffe in Documentaries for his amazing work on “Tales by Light”.
  • Confirmation of a re-vitalized Authorship Committee including Chair – Luciano Tovoli AIC ASC, Vittorio Storaro AIC ASC, Jost Vaccano, Nigel Walters BSC, Simon Plum and from Estonia Arko Okk ESC. I have been asked to provide information regarding the situation here in Australia, which I am seeking legal counsel on in order for the Committee to determine procedures for countries outside Europe. I’m certain Marc Swadel representing the New Zealand Society will be doing the same thing.
  • A Gender & Diversity Committee was established with Nina Kellgren BSC and Elen Lotman ESC as co Chairs with events already planned for Camerimage 2017. Velinda Wardell ACS is also a member of this IMAGO Committee.

The IMAGO EDUCATION CONFERENCE was held in Munich in early April and was attended on our behalf by London based, Marc Swadel from the NZCS along with Erika Addis representing primarily Griffith Film School, but I am certain both she and Marc collaborated on any findings relevant to the Society. I’m certain Erika will give us more details, and the report itself will be on the ACS web site.

Our membership of IMAGO has already reaped great rewards and afforded us the opportunity to voice an opinion from the Southern hemisphere. It’s important we continue to be part of, and support this great organization.

The ACS will attend LA CINE EXPO at Paramount Studios this year with a small booth selling merchandise and providing information about the Society. Andrew Hyde will be in LA at the time and has generously offered to lead the ACS assault on the CINEGEAR LA crowds. Jason Hargreaves ACS, Barry Wilson ACS and Toby Oliver ACS will ably assist him!

The CANON INITIATIVE has in my opinion not enjoyed the success it deserves but nevertheless thanks to the guidance and support of Helen Barrow along with the generosity of Paul Stewart at Canon we have seen a project commissioned with anbother coming up in the near future with NSW Accredited member, Susan Stitt ACS. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of the role played by Helen Barrow in driving this initiative forward. Thank you Helen.

The Society has 3 very important and significant initiatives that were again this year awarded to 3 very hardworking individuals. The John Leake OAM ACS Award to an Emerging Cinematographer was awarded to Mark Kenfield from Victoria. It comprises a $2400 cash prize and a certificate. The award is to be used toward furthering the knowledge and experience of the applicant including, but not limited to, current study or international study, conference, workshop, master class, internship etc. Mark intends to use the award to travel to the USA to attend an ASC Masterclass.

Established with the support of the Llewelyn family, the Queensland Branch and the National Executive: The Drew Llewelyn ACS Camerimage Scholarship, enables one lucky ACS member to attend Camerimage in Poland, with an amount of $4000.00 towards flights and accommodation. It is open to FULL and ACTIVE ACS members ONLY and the National Board upon consultation with the Llewelyn Family will make the final decision. This year we receive 7 applications and the winning recipient was NSW Branch Active member, Meg White.

The final special award is The BOB MILLER – ACS TECHNICAL & INNOVATION ACHIEVEMENT AWARD which was created in 2015 by Charles Montesin & Mark Clementson from Miller Camera Support and this year went to NSW member, Paul Nichola which not only recognises his outstanding contribution to the motion picture industry overall, but for design and manufacture of the revolutionary 360 x 60 HDR Panoramic Camera System, to be used in The Preservation of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Beijing, along with Motion Control rigs and other specialised motion picture equipment, including custom 3D rigs, as well as recognising your expertise as a Visual Effects supervisor, Director and Cinematographer.

The Award itself comprises $1,000.00 in cash and a $2000.00 Miller voucher. In addition, Miller has donated an LP54 in a wooden case and a special Bob Miller Award plaque, which resides in the ACS National Headquarters in North Sydney. The name of the award recipient is engraved on the LP 54 Classic plaque, every year in perpetuity. Paul also received a framed, signed certificate to commemorate the Award.

The perseverance of David Wakeley with input from Ernie Clark along with Warwick Field and the Board has seen our Articles of Association and our Membership categories revised and brought up to date to reflect the new technologies and the changes in crew positions relating to the Society. This was a huge task and our thanks go to all who contributed to this vitally important work.

Apropos that, the continued success of the Society has been made possible by the work of many, particularly within each and every Branch, whose committees give generously of their time and energy to the Society. It does not go unnoticed.

I remind you that our 2017 State and Territory Awards are approaching, and this year the Northern Territory Branch will be hosting again in Darwin a special NT Awards. I know that Steve Cavanagh on behalf of Andrew Hyde has been delegated to tell us more a little later…

Of course next year our 2018 ACS National Awards were proposed to be held at Uluru in the Northern Territory, and I know that there has been some initial discussion between Andrew Hyde & Tony O’Loughlan, but I can advise you that because of the cost and logistics involved, the NT Branch felt it was not a viable option. I am certain I will hear from Tony O’Loughlan in the coming weeks regarding the various options available to us.

Since our last meeting our National membership numbers has dropped slightly and now sits at 1636 which includes 29 ACS CineKids.

The revised 2016 -17 National Sponsorship was $148,000.00, unfortunately we had one of our sponsors who decided not to proceed, and another who simply didn’t pay, which meant the result was not as good as it had promised to be. But having said that it was still a pleasing result, one that highlights that the ACS brand remains viable and equitable. Which brings me to the point about our National and Branch sponsors and supporters. It is our responsibility to encourage our members to support them in the same way our sponsors support us. Also next year we will have RED DIGITAL CINEMA as a National Gold Sponsor and also CAMERA HIRE based in Manly as a National Bronze sponsor.

We have again this year experienced first hand from members that there are difficulties for some gaining employment, and I remind you again that we as a Society must understand that these difficulties do exist. For those who find themselves in this position, but are wishing to maintain their membership, remind them that the Society offers payment options, such as Student Membership cost for any member who needs assistance. We value all of our members and will do what is reasonable for members to continue their membership of the ACS.

We continue to be a very pro-active member of the Australian Screen Industry Group working on various issues as a collective. We have a Policy proposal to Government, producing what will be an effective Screen Policy, one favoured and supported by those Guilds representing working technicians. Consultation among the Guilds is strong and positive and must remain so in order to bring about change and to continue the collaborative process.

Apropos that in recent weeks we were a signatory to the Federal Parliament Inquiry into the Film & TV Industry Submission, included, apart from us,
¥ Australian Screen Editors
¥ Australian Screen Sound Guild
¥ Australian Production Design Guild
¥ Australian Section Chair, Visual Effects Society
¥ Australian Screen Composers Guild
It referred to the Guilds joint meeting with the Federal Government’s Parliamentary Inquiry into the growth & sustainability of the film & TV industry. Some of the more resourced, who don’t have as many members as the ACS, have submitted independent submissions, those being:
Australian Writers Guild
¥ Australian Directors Guild
¥ Screen Producers Australia
The main points were a standardised 40% Production Offset rebate across both film and television.
·        Public funding for Screen Australia, ABC and SBS to be restored to 2014 levels.
·        Minimum Australian content requirements to remain and extend to digital platforms.

We are fortunate in that we have 2 symbolic flagships, Our ACS National Headquarters and AC Magazine that continues to elevate the status of the Society with each and every issue. Editor, James Cunningham who is now a WA Branch member has done a fantastic job, presenting a new look to our truly international magazine, along with the combined expertise of the AC Magazine team, Associate Editor; Heidi Tobin, Head of Art; Brad Sampson, Clinton Harn, Mitch Kennedy, Lindsay Coleman along with many contributing writers; and not forgetting Austcine Publishing Chair, Ted Rayment ACS and National Treasurer, Mylene Ludgate.

I know James and Ted will have more to say in their detailed AC Magazine reports. but I want to pre-empt by saying that the magazine needs the support of advertising to simply keep it afloat. I ask that each Branch make a concerted effort to channel any potential advertisers to the magazine.

The ACS WEB SITE re development is being monitored and discussion has taken place between us, Toadshow and other potential providers regarding upgrading and re developing the site as quickly as possible to our required specifications, in order to determine costs.
I thank the current working committee who are still determining the best way to proceed, and I am certain Mark Morris will have more to say about this later.

The Awards Categories committee, Chaired by Ernie Clark ACS will, I have no doubt after the current Awards presentations review the Awards categories and continue to suggest and recommend relevant revisions in order to streamline the process, and remove any perceived anomalies. The categories and guidelines will continue to be monitored and change as new technologies are adopted. We will continue to refine our awards to ensure they remain the fairest and the best.

As a reminder, ACS CineKids encourages kids up to the age of 15 years to participate and take an active hands-on approach to Cinematography, and enables more young people to experience the inspirational community that is the ACS. It must be said that without the guidance and support of all the participating Branches, the CineKids initiative would not be in the clear air it is today, and ready to continue it’s role as our Nursery for Cinematographers. So much so, that when I mentioned our CineKids initiative to the Imago member countries, there were many who showed great interest at pursuing a similar idea in their own countries.

The National HQ continues to derive income from Pieter De Vries ACS, Ian Nicholson and the crews from 60 Minutes and Seven which has been appreciated by us all in so many ways. My thanks on behalf of us all go to our HQ Manager, the industrious David Lewis ACS, for his dedication and hard work. Along with Assistant HQ Manager; Richard Wilmot who has decided to step down, Ted Rayment ACS, David Burr ACS, David & Marianne Wakeley, Aleksei de Castagna, Steve Munro and all those NSW members who take it upon themselves to maintain the HQ to an incredible standard. I’m certain David will have more to add in his HQ Report.

During the year the Society, Nationally has supported many other industry groups with either sponsor support or “in kind’ support, including the following;

Film Critics Circle Awards
AACTA Awards
Production Design Guild both with Awards and the complimentary use of the HQ.
SnapShot Film Competition
JMC Academy – The Martini Awards (Sponsorship prize – Best Cinematography) The Martini Film Awards showcase work from all levels of JMC Academy with categories such as Best Documentary, Best Short Film and a range of Technical categories including Best Cinematography.
Sydney Film Festival.
ATOM Awards

Camera Assistants national rate card, support was requested by Camera Assistant, Scott Wood for this personal initiative which has a campaign run by the MEAA in tandem, so it seems like now may be as good a time as ever to try to unify the camera department in Australia.

We offered unqualified support via our ACS e news network, based on the following important points:

“The main issue at hand is the future of our industry if the minimum wage and working conditions do not meet a fair minimum, and also the need for a standard and acceptable practice for charging that keeps productions and practitioners accountable and protects the penalties that ensure a safe and ongoing industry.  Based on discussions it seems that a standard 10hr commercial day needs to be implemented to fight the 28% discount currently being asked of technicians in the commercial world of Sydney.  This is not necessarily the case in all states but again this is an opportunity to band together for the future.  

As well as this, a standard rate card would be created for commercials and a standard minimum rate card would be created for Feature films, TV series / low budget features/ documentaries. 

These rate cards would be made available to booking agents, production companies and producers ahead of time to allow for a smooth transition.  They would also become a readily available resource for new camera crew members as well as for new and old producers to know what to expect to be charged across the board. In order for these new rates and standards to work, camera assistants will need the support of not just each other but also the entire camera department community and the MEAA.” As I indicated the ACS supports this initiative, but is not driving it.

ACS HQ – We will continue to monitor and discuss the state of our building, and the potential need for substantial work to be carried out in order to prevent further deterioration of our National asset, and the potential for the building to be re-developed. David Wakeley will have more to say about this, and the current state of play.

The ACS Mentor – Attachment Scheme has slowed down, but received a number of potential applicants again over the past 12 months and continues to be a valuable initiative for those who participate on both sides of the lens.
Thus far, since it’s beginnings in 2012 we have had 27 applications and 22 placements.

Something not so palatable…..As you are all well aware the ACS has a zero tolerance approach to bullying and harassment of all kinds. I mention this because I have received observances of both from interstate members, which we cannot ignore. We are all entitled to work in an environment that affords us respect along with an harmonious environment free from any bullying or harassment. Please do your very best to support anyone who you believe is undergoing any of these activities, in any workplace.

In closing I emphasise again the importance that we continue to build our reputation as a strong, forthright and viable Society. I urge you to contribute to the Society by suggesting events and ways to do things better and more efficiently and effectively, as it’s important that our members feel they are getting value for money, and that they do indeed get that value by the Society providing as many events as possible for them.

My personal thanks to my fellow National Executive and ACS Board members, and to all the Branch President’s, Treasurers, Secretaries and Committees who give so freely of their time and their expertise.
I thank you all once again for the honour you have afforded me, by allowing me to be your National President over the past 9 years. I am very proud to be part of such an important Society and it’s role within our industry, along with the generosity of our members and the optimism we all share for the future.

Ron Johanson OAM ACS
ACS National President

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