In the lead up to this year’s Australian Cinematographers Society National Awards on 24 May, we got in touch with the previous recipients of the NFSA-ACS John Leake OAM ACS Award, for an update about their careers and achievements.
As beneficiaries of the 2010 NFSA-ACS John Leake OAM ACS Award, Kirsty Stark and her production partner, Director of Photography (DOP) Vivyan Madigan, took full advantage of the opportunity the award presented them.
‘With the prize money from the award we actually made two short films – from film (L’Artiste (2011) and The Beekeeper (2010)). We shot in 16mm and started a production company (Epic Films).’
Stark also enjoyed a Rotary group study exchange in Sweden. ‘I learned about the Swedish film industry and got to see how the industry works over there compared to Australia.’
Although cinematography is still a male-dominated sector, Stark says she always felt welcome as a female cinematographer and camera assistant. ‘I’ve been assisted and ‘shown the ropes’ by both males and females and I think I am lucky to be part of a generation where others have paved the way, and having women in the camera department is normal, even if it is sometimes rare.’
‘My cinematography lecturer at uni was female, so I felt confident learning to shoot from her and I think that can often be the hardest step to take. Without her encouragement, I may never have tried to pick up a camera. However, after shooting and assisting on several student films, I had no trouble finding working in the industry and went on to work with many fantastic mentors, both male and female.’
But the intervening years have seen Stark transition from emerging cinematographer to accomplished producer.
‘I just found that producing suited me a lot more than cinematography did as a skill set’ she says.
‘Through that process of starting the company, I started to produce more of our films and (found I was) a natural fit into that area. We’re still shooting pretty much everything that we make through the company. It was great for both of us to be able to take that next step in our career path.’