President’s Report – IMAGO 2012 REPORT – BYGDOSZCZ, POLAND.

President’s Report – IMAGO 2012 REPORT – BYGDOSZCZ, POLAND.

Ron & Velinda Wardell ACS listening intently.

I arrived in Bygdoszcz, Poland on a very overcast rainy day on Thursday, November 23, and it remained that way until the day I left, a week later.

Primarily I was there to attend the Extraordinary Meeting of IMAGO, but

took the opportunity to attend the 20th Anniversary of Camerimage…a true visual feast!!


Chris Doyle makes a point.

Before I begin, it’s important to remember that the ACS became a part of Imago because of the lobbying and the work done by former President, Ted Rayment ACS. It was his “foot in the door” that has made it possible for me to continue and to build on the relationship we have with Imago and th

e member countries, of which there are 47 European countries and 15 Non-European countries.



The VIP’s arrive at the Opera Nova.

This IMAGO meeting was a non-voting one and only recommendations from the delegates could be put to the Imago Board, for further determination in order to vote on them at the IAGA (AGM) in February.

The IMAGO Agenda was a very full one, and we didn’t manage to get through everything that needed to be discussed. I do believe that these meetings need to be scheduled subject to the agenda, and consideration should be given to having a 2-day meeting when required.



One of many HAWK lenses on display….Impressive! (Image courtesy of Velinda Wardell ACS)

As former National Secretary, Velinda Wardell ACS was attending Camerimage, I asked her to attend the IMAGO meeting as a second ACS representative. Mark Swadel, who lives and works in the UK, represented the NZCS. There were also around 33 other delegates representing the other Societies.

The meeting kicked off at 10.00am, and after introductions and a very comprehensive opening address from President, Nigel Walters BSC, followed by a very warm welcome from the President of the Polish Society (PSC) Jerzy Zielinski PSC ASC, the meeting got under way with the perennial favourite… Financials.


Keanu Reeves and acclaimed Director, Joel Schumacher. (Images courtesy of Josh Freestone.)

IMAGO is financially strong, and it was mentioned that the Associate member countries additional fees, if admitted with Full voting rights, would consolidate the financial situation further.

IMAGO has applied for EU SUPPORT, which is intended to be used for website re development and staffing of Brussels office of IMAGO. The result of this application will be known in February. While on the subject of Brussels, the IAGA (AGM) will be held in Brussels from February 14 – 17 inclusive.

AUTHORS RIGHTS for cinematographers in Australia is non-existent, although we do try in our own small way to attempt to make inroads. However when the USA and Great Britain have no such recognition, and our industries are aligned, it does not auger well. As you are all aware I’ve always been a strong advocate for us pursuing Authors Rights for cinematographers, but I now realise this is an enormous undertaking and we are

not in a position to fund it accordingly. I feel we can only watch the progress in Europe and learn from that as best we can. We do know the history of Authors Rights in Europe and Scandinavia is a system to envy, and the Polish Society presented a review of their own Authors Rights history.

The Polish Parliament approved the bill regarding Authors Rights, after a lengthy process in the year 2000. It excluded TVC’s and Music Videos, and there is ongoing professional input regarding Cable television and DVD. The funds are distributed by a Collective organisation to Directors, Writers, Music Composers who were all reluctant to share, but it was agreed on 15% to cinematographers for Feature Films, all subject to many restrictions and rulings. However that percentage is now 9% due to the influx of other departments all seeking Authors Rights. Watch this space!

The next Agenda item was of most interest to us, as it was regarding the Associate member count

ries being made full, fee-paying members. These fees at 22 Euros per person are based on member numbers, in our case Accredited members and I’m led to believe that the annual fee will be capped in the region of 2000 Euros.

It was a very passionate debate, led by IMAGO President, Nigel Walters ACS, who is very pro the inclusion of Associate members with full rights. I addressed the delegates about our desire to become Full members as we, the ACS believed it counterproductive to simply attend these meetings and to not have a voice to suggest and be able to vote on positive change. I reminded the delegates that we have always believed in the spirit of Imago along with the ideals that all cinematographers should be one united group, and we should speak with a unified voice. We believed there should be one IMAGO, not splinter groups and that we welcomed the opportunity to be a part of such an organisation. We wanted to be a part of the European Federation, and no other group, under no other name.

The discussion continued for a good two hours, with many points of view. The Italians believed there should be two Imago’s, one for Europe, and one for the rest of the world. My observations were that this was not a favoured option. The French, and I think the Germans, were worried that including Associate members with full voting rights could eventually erode the European model, and that the Associate member numbers could eventually be more than the European. I made the point that we want to be part of the European model and cannot understand why they fear they will lose the European balance from the Federation, perhaps the number of Associate members to the Board be capped at 2. In the end, the French agreed to propose that 2 Associate member country representatives become Board members on a 2-year rotational basis. The IMAGO Board would nominate these associates. That was a win!! Now, a subcommittee will discuss all the suggestions regarding the Associates and recommendations will go to the Board for an official proposal to be put at the February meeting, for voting. That’s also a win!!

As I said there were many speakers to the item including Roberto Schaeffer AIC ASC, Luciano Tovoli AIc ASC, Richard Andry AFC, Idan Or ACT (Israel), members of the French, Polish, Danish, Finnish and German Societies, Mark Swadel from the New Zealand Society, and a very emotional address from Tony Costa, during which you could have heard a pin drop.

Keep in mind we are greatly respected within IMAGO and I feel the majority of the delegates believe the Associate countries should have full voting rights, as long as they are prepared to pay the fees. If some Associates are not happy to pay the fees, they can remain a non-voting Associate member.

This polarising topic could have continued for some time, but once the progressive French Society made the proposal to the Board, we moved on.

IMAGO have an excellent Technical Committee in place, Chaired by the ever enthusiastic Kommer Kleijn SBC. These guys really do their homework, and on this occasion renowned French cinematographer, Philippe Ros AFC presented a very informative paper on Archiving, a subject we are currently investigating. I’ve attached the 4 reports for your information, and believe me, they are required reading by all. When I forwarded these reports to David Wakeley he made the comment “There are many of us who had no idea that film was that far down internationally, with 100% digital projection in some countries already. As to archiving, in the short term, perhaps we will be constantly re transferring from backed up solid state drives each 5 years until a ‘locked in’ system is developed”. A subject with many variables that our own Technical Committee, along with Simon Russell is looking into with representatives from Hitachi.

The IMAGO Master Class Committee reported that the proposed event for later in 2013 in Austria was moving along steadily, with participants still being finalised.

As for attending the IAGA meeting in Brussels at the end of February is something I think should be thought about. But given the fact we’ve come so far, and we have been instrumental in the likely changes to the way IMAGO is structured it’s certainly worth discussion. However it is a matter of funding the exercise, and we will need to give careful consideration before we confirm our attendance. I estimate the trip will cost in the vicinity of $6000.00.

The meeting concluded at around 6.00pm and was followed by another official dinner for all delegates. Thanks to Panavision, ARRI, Kodak and the people of Poland for their culinary generosity.

During Camerimage, which took place at the same time, I met with ACS Honorary Member and Camerimage Executive officer, Marek Zebrowski to ask him if there was a possibility of an ACS presence at Camerimage 2013. He was very receptive to the idea, and I’ll continue discussions with him in the New Year. It could well be that there could be an Australian retrospective with some of our DoP’s in attendance, along with an ACS hosted reception, once again to fly the ACS flag and to further promote our Australian cinematographers and films. I believe we need to foster and encourage the idea of more Australian cinematographers and Producers entering their films into Camerimage. This includes Student and Documentary films as well, which have a large and dedicated following. There’s no doubt Camerimage is the premier festival of its kind and we must support it as part of an International community. Here’s the web link:

I also had the opportunity to speak with new ASC President; Stephen Lighthill ASC and their International Committee Chair; Fred Goodich ASC about the ACES workflow system which is considered to be the best available for DP’s to utilise. It would be great to bring the experts from the ASC down to show us all the system, but we can only do so much. I intend to continue the dialogue with Fred Goodich ASC, and see what may be possible. As you’re all aware it’s about money and us having the capacity to fund the event. Given we are beginning the arrangements for a series of Geoff Boyle Workshops to coincide with the National Awards in May, as well as our ongoing commitment to SMPTE, along with other events including our National Awards, we have to think responsibly about taking anything else on.

I ran into NSW ACS member Tim Barnsley who had a short film, “Inferno” in competition. He won a Gold for the film at the NSW-ACT Awards. I missed the screening of the film due to re – scheduling, which was a real disappointment.

Informal chats to Stuart Dryburgh, Stephen Goldblatt ASC, Vilmos Zsigmond ASC, John Mathieson BSC ASC among others were most informative. Sadly I missed my old mate Anthony Dod Mantle.

Working the room at Camerimage can become a health hazard, but it was certainly a great experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. See some highlights of Camerimage at the following link:

Summing up, it appears there are a number of things conspiring against us all as cinematographers. I think Imago do their very best to stay on top of things and keep us appraised at all times. The overall feeling, despite some small differences is one of cooperation and inclusion, and that the entire member Societies continue to share the knowledge and the information in order for us to progress our craft and to constantly keep people aware of who we are and what we do, an above all we must all remain diligent.

There will be turbulent times ahead as our industry continues to change and the role of the cinematographer evolves. But this is nothing new, it is simply another hurdle we must be prepared to negotiate.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me should you have any questions, and I thank the National Executive for the honour afforded me by attending these prestigious events.

Ron Johanson ACS
National President.



Thanks to Velinda Wardell ACS, I had the opportunity to work as Focus Puller on a Feature shot in Paris from early to mid-November 2012 and upon completing my duties on “The Last Goodbye”, the plan for the next two weeks was to head to the festival that celebrates Cinematography; “Plus Camerimage”, held in Bydgoszcz, Poland. However, I had not yet booked any accommodation for the festival duration or a way to get from Paris to Bydgoszcz. Thankfully, numerous blessings flooded my way and two days before the festival started I was granted a “Homestay Programme” position by the Plus Camerimage management. This meant that I was invited and accepted into a family from Bydgoszcz, for the duration of the Festival, who provided amazing friendship, meals, transport and Polish Vodka throughout a full week learning Cinematography and how to protect its future.

The festival itself was inspiring, influential, and all round bloody good fun. From seminars celebrating the art and significance of Cinematography within the Film Industry including Masterclasses with some of the best including Vittorio Storaro ASC AIC, Christopher Doyle HSC, to lighting and camera workshops led by Oliver Stapleton BSC, Paul Cameron ASC and Danny Cohen BSC with active participation from the audience and the chance to have meals and drinks with world renowned Cinematographers and Directors. Plus Camerimage was a fantastic foundation to continue my love for film and celebrating images created from the combination of light hitting emulsion, and the person behind the camera who makes it all work.

To me the festival was most significant in the way it provided Masterclass sessions and workshops that focused on the intricacies of certain lighting styles and techniques, camera movement and the subtleties that make every shot count, and practical demonstrations of colour grading sessions, with footage taken minutes beforehand. The practical aspects to these workshops suited me perfectly and having come from Australia to Poland I thought it wise to actually participate in these sessions as much as I could.

Thankfully, I was given two opportunities to work one-on-one through a scenario with a provided set, action and with active discussion between both Paul Cameron ASC, known for Tony Scott’s Man On Fire, De Ja Vu and most recently Total Recall, and Danny Cohen BSC, known for The King’s Speech and soon to be released Les Miserable respectively, I was able to go through each step involved in lighting a set, lighting an actor within that environment, setting the shot, filming the shot and grading the result. Although this may sound pretty basic and standard, watching and talking with these guys was an experience that I will definitely never forgot and always hold close, as I was able to chat with two of the world’s best about a certain lighting problem I was having and they would give you a piece of gold in return. So there was a lot to remember and take on board in relation to setting a light’s position, angle, intensity or changing the quality of the light to aid in the storytelling required for that certain situation, as well as, the appropriateness of camera position and movement to aid the story. Finally it was a great opportunity to get to be on set with these guys and understand a slither more of the very large pie that is Cinematography.

As well as learning from Hollywood’s big guns in three hour Workshops, the fact that the seminars were held meters away from the restaurant meant that I could meet up with Cinematographer friends and colleagues for some pretty epic meals, drinks and a chat; often leading to more gold being given freely from these big guns as well. After dinner I could then head straight into another Masterclass that provided more insights and great discussion on the practical understanding of Cinematography.

Succinctly, the combination of the Polish hospitality from Justyna and Piotr’s family (my hosts) and the amount of Cinematography information that was provided to us during the festival, leads me to wrap up by saying; that Plus Camerimage 2012, was by far the most well-rounded film festival experience I have had and I encourage any young or not so young Director of Photography, Gaffer, Operator, Camera Assistant, or Student of Cinematography to attend and learn from these festivals; it was truly epic and I will be attending many more!

Thanks to Velinda Wardell ACS for getting me the gig that led to Poland and both Velinda and Ron Johanson ACS for bringing the Aussie voice to Plus Camerimage 2012.


VELINDA WARDELL ACS – “Observations”

Acclaimed Director and friend of all cinematographers, David Lynch was handed the key to the city of Bygdoszcz.

PLUS CAMERIMAGE together with his close friend Gus Van Sant, long time first ac Jason McCormick, colleagues Chris Doyle, Anthony Dod Mantle, Edward Lachman and other cinematographers, all paid a moving tribute to the late Harris Savides ASC.

There were non-stop films. seminars, workshops, parties, trade shows and demos.

Most moving to me was to see Ron’s speech to the IMAGO delegates and when Tony Costa stood up and said that “Cinematography has no borders.”

The new Hawk lenses attracted a lot of attention, especially those that open up to T1.

Great to see Unjoo Moon there to screen the doco “Zen of Bennett” and to guide me around to a lot of sponsors parties. Thank you Unjoo!

  • A guide to the problems of projecting onto the Silver Screen. »– “The Cypriot-born British Cinematographer Haris Zambarloukos BSC ( Thor, Mamma Mia, Death Defying Acts ) has written this “straightforward” guide to the problems of projecting onto the Silver Screen.”
  • Camerimage on YouTube »– Working the room at Camerimage can become a health hazard, but it was certainly a great experience that I wholeheartedly recommend. See some highlights of Camerimage at the following link:

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