We’re only two weeks away from the 2014 Australian Cinematographers Society National Awards, where the recipient of the NFSA-ACS John Leake OAM ACS Award for an Emerging Cinematographer will be announced. We spoke with the 2012 winner, Jimmy Ennett about his career so far.
On set as a camera attachment for the Australian leg of the shoot for The Railway Man, Jimmy recalls a day spent at an old war museum in Brisbane which was standing in for a Japanese labor camp in Second World War-era Singapore. The museum was surrounded by tanks, extras – and mud.
‘I was helping out the steadicam – so he had to run – he was actually moving around, basically having to hardwire his camera with almost a hundred metres of cable for the monitor through the mud and connecting that and also having to run back and clapper – because if you don’t clap correctly then the editors get screwed up.’
‘But you come out the other end and think, “I still want to do it tomorrow” – so that’s a pretty good sign.’
In March 2011 Ennett, then a Canberra film student, entered his short film Invasion in the local film festival – Lights! Camera! Action! Invasion earned him three awards and the 2012 NFSA-ACS John Leake OAM ACS Award for young cinematographers in Sydney. It was the ACS award which eventually opened the door to working alongside esteemed cinematographer Garry Phillips and his team on the set of The Railway Man.
The opportunity to work with Phillips offered a masterclass of sorts and Ennnett experienced a renewed faith in his pathway.
‘Garry is very gracious and generous with his time and explaining of shots – he would explain exactly what he was doing. I think what I learned from Garry was the way he composes [using] the ARRI Alexa – a world class digital camera… He was showing me the process of recording to a RAW – the uncompressed imagery and also recording in cinemascope format. I was only really used to recording in 16×9 but showing all the new kind of framing options with that extra sort of width really kind of changed the way I think he was telling the story – it was quite surreal. He gained a lot of his experience coming up as a camera assistant to a cinematographer himself which seems to be a sort of lost art.’
‘There are a lot of professional assistant cameras that are keeping that alive and sort of going that hard route and really learning the craft by osmosis and learning with different directors and different directors of photography but I know many more who get a Canon 5D and think they’re a cinematographer.’