POSTCARD from Jessica Clarke-Nash

A postcard from

Operating on “The Great”


For my last pre covid job I was lucky enough to work as a B-camera operator and 2U DP with lead DP and fellow Aussie John Brawley ACS on a period dramedy called The Great.

The show was written and created by another Australian Tony McNamara. The crew was also filled with many antipodeans and so the shoot felt more like an Australian show overseas than many other shoots I’ve been on in the UK and US. It was a very fast-paced show in many different ways. We were shooting 10 hour days but 12 hour scheduled days so it was fast in terms of shooting pace but it also was fast dialogue, movement, and action on screen so the whole thing had a very frantic and energetic feel which got us through the cold dark UK winter in the studio. It was a breath of fresh air and a renewed energy when we did a company move to shoot exteriors in Caserta Palace in the south of Italy in January.

Since it was a comedy more than a drama we did a lot of cross shooting to allow the cast to really be loose and improvisational. John’s main aim was to create a space on set for the actors to really be able to be free to go where they needed to go and give the best performance possible. This created a great connection between the A operator, James Layton ACO, and I as we would be communicating to each other across the set while shooting so that we could both get the shots we needed. We learned to find each other’s edge of the frame very quickly and adapt instinctively as actors would move. Normally on set it’s a dance between 5 people – the actor, camera operator, focus puller, dolly grip, and boom swinger this time that was at least 10 as we were all trying to move harmoniously together. It nearly always worked and sometimes the happy mistakes made for some amazing moments that you see on screen.

The shoot itself was a tough one mentally and physically but having such amazing performances and a very funny show as a product made all the pain and 10 person dances definitely worth it.