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CineSaddles, Cyclos and Snake Bile

Guild of Television Cameramen (UK)


Laurie Gilbert is an Australian Director of Photography who is based in Asia. He shoots everything from commercials to documentaries to feature films; but he is probably most reknowned for his magnificent coverage of sporting events. Laurie is an accomplished writer as well as a Director of Photography and he kindly allowed us to reprint excerpts from his article.


The streets of Asia are an amazingly dynamic place to shoot in and unlike Europe and the USA, everything happens at a very personal level right there in front of you. Street peddlers sit on the ground to sell you their wares, people travel by cyclo rather than in insulated motorcars and the most photogenic postcard sellers in Saigon are twelve years old and only four foot high.



I have long known that the most dynamic images that capture the essence of these locations are shot from well below waist level and I seem to spend a third of my professional life kneeling in Asian gutters. (Dale Hartleben from Carlyle in London would tell you I spend a third of my social life there as well).




That ugly brown canvas bean-bag of mine can sometimes be the key to the difference between my rushes and my competitions' rushes. Set a Betacam equipped with a 300mm 4.5 prime Nikon lens inches above a hot Vietnamese road, on the Cinesaddle, at sunset. Now cue the water buffalo cart in the distance and you get those powerful local images that make Dales' eyes water!

On this particular shoot Ms. Gwee, my pretty Singaporean client at first seemed extremely suspicious of it and appeared reluctant to have anything to do with it. This was until I told her it was a special Limited Edition model made especially for me by Cartier. Then she happily carried it everywhere for me!

With all the little fitments it contains internally for attaching a camera to a car bonnet, it confuses the living daylights out of the X-ray officials at airports. But to me, operating at pedal level on-location in Asia, it has to be the invention of the decade.

Mine comes on the shoot with only one strict rule, which states "Only the D.O.P. is allowed to sleep on it, in the van, on the way home". But then, with my system still trying to digest ample portions of wild boar, mountain frog and snake bile at the moment, even counting rows and rows of big green Cummins gensets is not helping me sleep!



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