Green Folk

Meet the new wave / Stuart Biddlecombe

Green Folk

Meet the new wave / Stuart Biddlecombe

Filmography (so far):

Ironclad (2nd Unit) (2010), The Kid (2nd Unit) (2010), Soulboy (2nd Unit) (2010), Beyond The Pole (2009), Mad Sad & Bad (2009) and Dubplate Drama (2009).

 

When did you discover you wanted to be a cinematographer?

It must have been in the late ‘80s when I was around 10 years old. My brothers and I were lucky enough to have access to our dad’s Betamax camcorder and his ancient Super 8 camera. We used to make the opening of Star Wars using cardboard cutouts for planets, fishing line to make our toys fly and table lamps to illuminate our scenes. I remember quite vividly thinking that it would be great to do this for a living.

Where did you train?

I graduated from the National Film & Television School in 2003. It was a great place to learn the foundations of cinematography. One of the beauties of our profession, however, is that we are constantly learning, constantly adapting our styles and techniques to meet the demands of scripts.

What are you favourite films?

My favourites frequently change. Currently they include Roger Deakins’ The Assassination Of Jesse James and his equally striking No Country For Old Men. However, Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining and 2001 – A Space Odyssey shot by John Alcott and Geoffrey Unsworth respectively are always very near the top of the list. Purely for their beautiful and iconic imagery, they are movies I regularly return to for inspiration and encouragement.

"My brothers and I were lucky enough to have access to our dad’s Betamax camcorder and his ancient Super 8 camera. We used to make the opening of Star Wars using cardboard cutouts for planets, fishing line to make our toys fly and table lamps to illuminate our scenes."

- Stuart Biddlecombe 

What’s the best advice you were ever given, and from whom?

 “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing properly” and “It’s not rocket science” from Brian Tufano BSC.

Who are your DP/industry heroes?

Brian Tufano BSC for his never-ending generosity in sharing his knowledge and understanding of the craft. Roger Deakins BSC ASC for his consistently inspiring work, and Seamus McGarvey BSC for his ever-adapting style.

Have you won any awards?

Best Cinematography, Kodak Commercial Competition

What’s you proudest moment?

Whilst shooting 2nd unit on Ironclad, being told by the main unit DP, David Eggby ACS, that our rushes looked like a Rembrandt.

Tell us about your best moment on set?

On the set of Ironclad, we were shooting a fairly complicated stunt sequence involving a character being shot in the back whilst she was running across the castle set. We had mortars and multiple air cannons going off, both cameras were handheld on a Western Dolly. Whilst not being particularly challenging for me, I just couldn’t wipe the smile from my face.

And your worst moment on set?

The worst moment on any set for me is at the end of the day, the light is dropping and we have still have the reverse to shoot.

Tell us your most hilarious faux pas?

Not really a faux pas but hilarious for all but me, in front of the cast and crew, walking head first into a patio window.

"[My proudest moment was] whilst shooting 2nd unit on Ironclad, being told by the main unit DP, David Eggby ACS, that our rushes looked like a Rembrandt."

- Stuart Biddlecombe

Away from work, what are your greatest passions?

My partner Marte, my family and my allotment. All of which take the brunt of my long and unsociable hours.

What one piece of kit could you not live without?

My Sekonic L608c light meter of course, but almost as indispensable, my Mark V viewfinder and my gaffers glass.

What’s weirdest place you’ve ever shot in?

I was shooting a documentary in Zimbabwe, without the appropriate permits, and we stumbled by accident into Robert Mugabe’s birthday party. Needless to say we didn’t hang around long.

What’s the hardest shot/thing you’ve had to light/frame?

By far the hardest scene I have ever shot was a in a hall of mirrors. It was virtually impossible to place anything, anywhere without it being seen, couple it with a Steadicam and we very nearly had a disaster. 

Tell us your hidden talent?

I grow my own veg.

In the entire history of filmmaking, which film would you love to have shot?

2001 – A Space Odyssey.

What are your current top albums?

My parents had a penchant for folk music and much to my embarrassment it has rubbed a little on to me. Roddy Woomble’s album My Secret Is My Silence and Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More are my guilty pleasures.

What’s the best thing about being a DP?

Working with a director and a small army of talented, creative individuals, all collaborating together, striving to make perfect visuals for a great script. The travelling is quite nice too.

What’s the worst thing about being a DP?

Being away from my family and my own bed.

Which three adjectives best describe you and your approach to cinematography?

Honest. Cinematic. Open.

If you weren’t a DP, what job would you be doing now?

A gardener perhaps, or more probable, a photojournalist.

What are your aspirations for the future?

Working on projects that will challenge, inspire and engage.