Hi, I’m Simon.
I am a New Zealand Director of Photography, living in Toronto.
I specialise in long form film and television cinematography, documentary cinematography and Commercials.
I am an accredited member of the New Zealand Cinematographers Society (NZCS), a full member of the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) and a member of IATSE 667.
A little bit about me...
I was born in England, Manchester to be exact. Pre-Brit Pop, when it was all factories and football. Any dreams I had of playing for Manchester City however were dashed when my family emigrated to New Zealand when I was 9.
Definite culture shock. It was sunny for a start… but it was the little things too. Wellies became gumboots, flip-flops became Jandles, Marmite became Vegemite.
You could always tell we were British though because my mum still ironed my underwear.
I like to think that being a stranger in a strange land led me in part to becoming an observer and laid the ground work for my observational skills behind a camera… I like to watch… and take pictures. (That doesn’t sound creepy at all)
I would love to tell you that I was born with a camera in my hand but it would not be true.
Like many I suspect, I fell into film-making while looking completely in the opposite direction; geology in my case.
Picture a poor and hungry Earth Science student. First year of university, away from home. Winds up as an extra on a movie that is shooting in town. Quite a big movie at that. It starred Leif Garrett and Cliff Robertson. One a pop star who went on to become a drug addict, the other a leading man who played Toby Maguire’s Grandad in Spiderman…you know “With great power comes great responsibility”… that guy.
My first time on set; what a revelation. Helicopters, cameras, walkie talkies, hundreds of people all seemingly doing something important and everyone of them wearing a black puffer jacket… and the food!
‘Amazeballs’ as my daughter would say. I had no idea that such a world (or word) existed. Needless to say it signed the death warrant on my Geology career.
I was awarded my degree but I had to promise my Professor that I would never work in the field.
Fast forward a few years…
Having worked my way thought the camera department as a loader and a focus puller and having started to shoot a few short films I found myself in a quandary. New Zealand had a selection of eight short films at the Cannes Film Festival. I had worked on five of them. Shot two. The two I shot won awards. Maybe it was time to start shooting full time.
Luckily the decision was made for me with the offer of a TV series called Coverstory.
So began my Cinematography career.
Over the years I have experimented with and still enjoy shooting many styles of Cinematography. I have shot a boat load of commercials and music videos and you could run a film festival with all the short films I have shot. But my big love is long form drama. TV and Feature films.
There is a sublime pleasure to be found in sitting on set with actors and director and watching the words of the script be transformed into action and light. Of blocking and sculpting a scene. Of building those scenes into a cohesive story.
And therein lies the magic of film-making. The Gestalt. The whole, greater than the sum of the parts…
If you look at my work you can see that these days I gravitate to darker images. I could say it has to do with the shadows being just as important as the light, of the beauty in melancholy, of encouraging an audience to work… or I might just like it darker… Perhaps there is a little bit of that boy from a factory town still in me.
If you are a film-maker who loves the magic of creating a scene, believes that film-making is a collaborative process and understands the power of lighting and the language of the camera in illuminating performance and telling a story, then lets talk.