Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Russell Boyd

I'm going to guess Russell Boyd works in the film industry. I seem to be doing a lot of film people lately.

Well, I'm right. Lord Wiki says he's a cinematographer. He's done a lot of stuff I've already talked about....Peter Weir stuff, and one movie with Beresford.

Lord Wiki doesn't say much about him. This may be a short entry. That's good because my dad's coming over to play Wii fit with us. Then later, Jack, Tim and I might see a movie.

Anyway, all Lord Wiki says is that on the set of Tender Mercies (according to Tess Harper) Boyd was very quiet. She says his vocabulary usually consisted of only three words: yeah, right, and sure.

I've been that quiet in my life before. Sometimes I get really shy. But those times are rare these days. Really. I can't think of the last time I felt shy like that. Even with the type of people who used to make me crawl into my shell, I'm fairly talkative.

I just jumped over to IMDb. Crap. His filmography is much longer than I expected!!   I don't know how I'm going to get everything done today. I need a miracle. Well, one thing that will make things shorter for me is to not rewatch clips/trailers I've already seen before. I'll link to them for anyone else who's interested. But not re-watching them will save me time.

IMdb provides Boyd's birthday. It's April 21, 1944.

All right. Let's look at this guy's career.

The first thing on his filmography was a TV program called The Marty Feldman Show.

Oh forget this. If I go through this whole filmography, I won't have time to read any interviews or articles. I think I'm going to skip the filmography game.

Instead, I'll just quickly list the stuff he's done that I've heard of.

So, here's my list.

1. Picnic at Hanging Rock (directed by Peter Weir)
2. Summer of Secrets (directed by Jim Sharman)
3. The Last Wave (directed by Peter Weir)
4. Gallipoli (directed by Peter Weir)
5. The Year of Living Dangerously (directed by Peter Weir)
6. Tender Mercies (directed by Bruce Beresford)
7. Crocodile Dundee (both the first one and sequel)
8. White Men Can't Jump
9. Forever Young
10. Operation Dumbo Drop
11. Liar Liar
12. Doctor Doolittle
I feel guilty doing things this way, because I like going through the filmography and learning about each movie/TV show. But it's very time consuming, and I'm not really up to it today.

I MIGHT do it though if I can't find anything about Boyd.

Let me start searching.....

This film website has a page about Boyd. It says he came to prominence after working with Weir on Picnic at Hanging Rock. The website says the Australian films in these days (new wave) were a combination of art cinema and classic Hollywood conventions.

Boyd started his career in Melbourne; he worked at a place called Cinesound. They say this is what made him interested in film and television production. But they don't say why he started working there in the first place. Anyway, he ended up moving to Sydney. There he became a cameraman's apprentice Paddington, for a company called Supreme Films. Boyd did this work in the 1960's. He filmed commercials. That lasted for about five years.

In 1974, Boyd got his first film job. He became director of photography for a movie called Between Wars. Judy Morris from Mother and Son was in it. The movie was about a psychiatrist.

Now I'm thinking maybe I should do all these film posts this way. Maybe it's better to read articles, and then go to IMDb when something is mentioned. It might be more productive than simply going through items one-by-one on the IMDb list. The latter way takes me all day; and then I end up feeling I really didn't learn that much about the actual person.

Anyway, Boyd must have done very well with his first film. He won the Cinematographer of the Year award from the Australian Cinematographer's Society.

Picnic at Hanging Rock came about a year later. I'm betting that winning the award brought him to Peter Weir's attention. And with Picnic at Hanging Rock, Boyd won even more awards. He won the American Saturn Award and the British BAFTA Award. Australia gave him nothing! Actually, the movie received no awards from Australia. And the movie received much less awards in general that I would have imagined.

The film website says that Boyd spend most of the 1970's working on Australian films. Then in the 1980's, he started doing American ones. In the early 1980's, he did two American movies with Australian directors. One was Tender Mercies with Bruce Beresford. The other was Mrs. Soffel with Gillian Armstrong. Yeah...Armstrong. I totally forgot about her, the other day, when I was trying to think of people who could make my Maconochie movie.

Through the years, Boyd did a combination of Australian and American movies.

There's some interesting cinematographer talk here. Apparently, there's something called the British system. With this, the cinematographer concentrates on lighting. The camera operator is then the one who works more with the director on establishing shots. Then there's the American system. In this, the cinematographer works more closely with the film's director. Boyd uses a combination of these depends on what film he's working on.

For Picnic at Hanging Rock, Boyd covered his lens with a yellow net. He did this so the movie would have the look of a turn-of-the-century painting. That's really cool. I'm going to watch some scenes from the movie....just so I can see the effect. It has a bit of a hazy look. These days, I'm guessing you can add most of these effects AFTER filming. When I would edit videos for my family with Final Cut Express, there was also kinds of coloring and lighting tricks you could use. Sometimes when I was angry at certain family members, I'd use very subtle coloring tricks to try and make them look bad. I was very manipulative in my film-making. I wonder if my family ever noticed. I don't think they did. Besides the coloring stuff, I would also edit the films to emphasize how I perceived things. That whole experience has helped me to be very critical of documentary type films. For example, although I agree with Michael Moore's politics, I recognize that his filming and editing is extremely manipulative.

Back to Picnic at Hanging Rock. There were other fun tricks used. Boyd used different camera speeds for the picnic seeds. The film website explains that this gave the film it's hallucinatory and hypnotic feel. Cool!

He used tight frames and extreme angels to give a scary claustrophobic feel towards the end.

The website says that while preparing for a film, he studies photographs and paintings from the time period of the film.

Here's a Russel Boyd video about film-lighting. It's an interview. He does seem pretty shy. Boyd talks about how you have to keep continuity within a film....keep the same lighting style. I understand what he's saying, but I'm not sure I'm conveying it right. It's like each movie has a certain style. I guess you wouldn't want a movie suddenly going from one style to another. There's probably exceptions though. A movie might start with one type of theme, then when the storyline changes, it might switch to another style. An obvious example would be The Wizard of Oz. The Kansas scenes are much different from the Oz scenes. Can anyone think of other examples?

In the video, Boyd emphasizes the importance of the director. He believes he's central to the project, and everyone on the set should be working to help him achieve his vision. I think the article I read before mentioned something about this. Boyd's films all look very different from each other. The reason is he's not pushing his own Russell Boyd style on all the movies. Instead, he's works to make the films look the way the director wants them to look. He doesn't try to steal the limelight. I think he's more of a wind-beneath-my-wings type person.

This Cinematographer site says that Boyd won an Oscar for the 2003 Peter Weir movie, Master And Commander: The Far Side of the Road. The website includes his acceptance speech. He mentions a wife named Sandy, and some sons. So there, I gained some personal information.

I'm kind of at a loss of what to do next....besides quit.

Maybe I'll run through a little bit of IMDb stuff....see if there's anything interesting about Boyd in the trivia or award pages.

Here we go. For Gallipoli, he won another Cinematographer of the Year Award. He also won the AFI award, and he was nominated for a Golden Globe.

He received an AFI nomination for The Year of Living Dangerously.

Looking at his list of films, I'm seeing he has done at least four movies with Mel Gibson. I wonder if they have any kind of friendship going on.

Boyd's upcoming movie is directed by Peter Weir. It's called The Way Back. I wonder if I wrote about it when I researched Weir. It sounds sort of familar. It's based on a true story...involves an escape and very long walk in India. Well, wait....The trivia page says it's based on memoirs, but not necessarily on true memoirs. A guy named Slawomir Rawicz claims to have made a daring escape to India. But the BBC did some research that revealed the story may not be entirely true. I wonder how Weir and Boyd feel about all that.

Anyway, I'm going to finally take the laundry out of the drier, and clean up a bit for my dad's visit.


  1. "angry at certain family members, I'd use very subtle coloring tricks to try and make them look bad." Haha. Green sister?

  2. Andrew,

    Green works very too, I think.

    You know I was feeling guilty. But now I'm not. Film making is an art. It's my interpretation of the world....