Charles Pierre (Peter) Donnelly ACS

Charles Pierre (Peter) Donnelly ACS (1935-2015).

Charles Pierre (Peter) Donnelly was born in Sydney in 1935. At 13 months his mother died, so he went to live with his grandmother’s family in Hobart. At a tender age he saw live theatre productions directed by the talented Tasmanian uncles. An interest in cinema began from seeing a neighbour’s lantern slide and movie collection.

Peter Shared in the transparency craze of the 1950’s. He developed his own colour slides and did a course in photography. While working as an Industrial Chemist when TV started in 1960. Peter purchased a 16mm Paillard Bolex and began shooting ‘stringer’ assignments. Subsequently, he was appointed as ABC Hobart first Asst. Cinecameraman to Neil Davis in 1962. Peter progressed to filming Weekend-Magazine items and Current Affairs began in 1966 he relished in the expanded creativity offered. While perusing the American Cinematographer Magazine Peter began using coloured filtration to lift the standard on important B&W assignments. He photographed the ABC’s first locally produced national documentary. A Council Man, in 1968.

While freelancing, Peter was asked to quote for Tasmania’s first Big Country story – The Kings of Melaleuca for ABC Rural in 1970. Although photographed in black & while it received many favourable reviews. When his second opportunity arose in 1974 Peter was back on ABC staff and filmed the Keepers of the Light, winning his first Golden Tripod Award. AA Fragile Web was another major nature documentary Peter filmed. It followed his cinematic involvement in the campaign to Save Lake Pedder and Save the Franklin that also saw him standing for Parliament.

Peter’s respect for Hobart’s talented Education producers saw him assigned on many drama productions, particularly The Colonials that screened for over 10 years. In 1976 he became the first Tasmanian based cinematographer to be granted Accreditation. A recipient of several National Awards. Peter photographed DeVils Tasmania for cinema release. His best overseas assignment was Swinging through Ireland, a golfing documentary shot on videotape for ABC Sport in 1992.

Peter joined the ACS NSW Branch and in 1969 became a foundation member of the Tasmanian Branch holding the reigns of Secretary then President for many years. In filming thousands of Tasmanian assignments over 40 years. Peter has captured a great deal of his own State’s motion picture history. A firm believer in the Society. Peter was awarded Life Membership in 2006. Peter passed away in September 2015.