Arthur Embery Higgins ACS (1891-1963)

Inducted into ACS Hall of Fame – 1997

Arthur Higgins, one of Australia’s most famous cinematographers was born in Hobart on October 25, 1891 the youngest of three sons to Henry Higgins a Hobart butcher, and Ann Marie. Little did Henry and his wife know that Arthur and his two older brothers Ernest and Tasman were each destined to become legends of the early days of Australian film production, particularly as cinematographers in the SILENT MOVIE era.

In 1909 Arthur worked in an architect’s office in Hobart, but noting Ernest’s (the eldest brother) success at Cosen Spencer Pictures in Sydney, he decided to move to the mainland and join Ernest at Spencer’s. The decision proved to be the beginning of an important chapter in Australia’s early film industry, for soon after, Cosen Spenser and leading film director Raymond Longford recognised Arthur’s potential, so at 19 years of age and with very little experience he was chosen to shoot one of Spenser’s first major feature films “The Fatal Wedding” quickly followed by ‘Dan Morgan – Terror of the Australian Bush’.

Arthur then went on to shoot a total of 39 Australian feature films as cinematographer, and two as Director. Two of his films were to become classics of the Australian screen, ‘The Sentimental Bloke’ in 1919, then in 1920 the first version of Steele Rudd’s classic ‘On Our Selection’. He also shot numerous newsreel items and documentaries, plus cinema advertisements, often in the Solarchrome Colour process that he co-developed with another well known cinematographer, George Malcolm.

Arthur’s last feature was in 1946 ‘A Son is Born’ directed by Eric Porter. Arthur was truly dedicated to his craft and was still working with his camera right up to the time of his death in Sept. 1963.

Arthur was a founding member of the Australian Cinematographers Society, and the proud holder of ACS Accreditation Certificate No.1. Arthur Higgins, one of Australia’s great film industry pioneers is no longer with us, but his work and the man himself will long be remembered.

Footnote: Arthur never used an exposure meter throughout his entire career, relying totally on his eye, imagination and experience to decide the lens stop.

Arthur Higgins ACS …The Sentimental Bloke