Boyd, Russell

views updated May 23 2018

BOYD, Russell

Cinematographer. Nationality: Australian. Born: 1944 in Australia. Career: Worked at Cinesound, Melbourne; shot commercials for Supreme Films, Paddington, late 1960s; first feature credit as director of photography for Between Wars, 1974; cinematographer for dozens of Australian and American films; television credits include A Town Like Alice, 1981. Awards: Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) Cinematographer of the Year, for Between Wars, 1976; British Academy Award (BAFTA) for Best Cinematography, 1977, and Academy of Science Fiction, Horror and Fantasy Films Saturn Award for Best Cinematography, 1979, for Picnic at Hanging Rock; Australian Film Institute (AFI) Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography, for Break of Day, 1977; AFI Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography, for The Last Wave, 1978; AFI Award for Best Achievement in Cinematography, 1981, and ACS Cinematographer of the Year, 1982, for Gallipoli; AFI Raymond Longford Award for significant contribution to Australian filmmaking, 1988. Address: 52 Sutherland Street, Cremorne NSW 2090, Australia. Agent: Smith/Gosnell/Nicholson & Assoc., PO Box 1166, 1515 Palisades Dr., Pacific Palisades, CA 90272–2113, U.S.A.

Films as Cinematographer:


Between Wars (Thornhill)


Picnic at Hanging Rock (Weir); The Man From Hong Kong (Wang and Trenchard-Smith); The Golden Cage (Kuyululu)


Summer of Secrets (Sharman); Break of Day (Hannam)


Gone to Ground (Dobson); The Singer and the Dancer (Armstrong); The Last Wave (Weir)


Just Out of Reach (Blagg); Dawn! (Hannam); The Chain Reaction (Barry and Miller)


. . . Maybe This Time (McGill)


Gallipoli (Weir); A Town Like Alice (Stevens—for TV)


The Year of Living Dangerously (Weir); Starstruck (Armstrong)


Tender Mercies (Beresford); Phar Lap (Wincer); Stanley: Every Home Should Have One (Storm)


A Soldier's Story (Jewison); Mrs. Soffel (Armstrong)


Burke & Wills (Clifford); "Crocodile" Dundee (Faiman); The Perfectionist (Thomson)


High Tide (Armstrong)


The Rescue (Fairfax); "Crocodile" Dundee II (Cornell)


In Country (Jewison); Blood Oath (Wallace); Sweet Talker (Jenkins)


Almost an Angel (Cornell); Prisoners of the Sun (Wallace)


Turtle Beach (Wallace)


Forever Young (Miner); White Men Can't Jump (Shelton)


Cobb (Shelton)


Operation Dumbo Drop (Wincer)


Tin Cup (Shelton)


Liar Liar (Shadyac)


Dr. Dolittle (Thomas)


Company Man (Askin)

Other Films:


Oscar and Lucinda (Armstrong) (additional camera)


By BOYD: articles—

"The 'New Vintage' Cinematographers of Australia Speak Out," interview in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), September 1976.

On BOYD: articles—

Bachmann, Gideon, "Films in Australia," in Sight and Sound (London), Winter 1976–77.

Dawson, Jan, "Picnic Under Capricorn," in Sight and Sound (London), Spring 1976.

Murray, Scott, editor, The New Australian Cinema, London, 1980.

Chase, Donald, "Russell Boyd," in American Cinematographer (Hollywood), December 1984.

McCarthy, Todd, "Speed of Light," in Film Comment (New York), September-October 1989.

O'Regan, Tom, "Australian Film in the 1970s: The Ocker and the Quality Film," in Oz Film: Australian Film in the Reading Room,, February 7, 1997.

Australian Film Commission and Australian Film Finance Corporation Limited, "Report on the Film and Television Production Industry,", November 5, 1999.

* * *

Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd came to prominence in 1975 for lensing Peter Weir's Picnic at Hanging Rock. He was part of the New Wave that revitalized the Australian motion picture industry by introducing the "quality" film, a hybrid of art cinema and classic Hollywood conventions. Technically skilled and imaginative, Boyd and his peers—producers, directors, screenwriters, and cinematographers—had their first features in the can before their 30th birthdays. These productions dominated Australian screens and received international acclaim.

Boyd was an overnight sensation whose career had started unassumingly years earlier. He first became interested in the production of television commercials, news, and documentaries while working at Cinesound in Melbourne. After moving to Sydney in the mid-1960s he started his apprenticeship as a cameraman at Supreme Films in Paddington: there he shot commercials every day for five years. Boyd's feature film break came when director Michael Thornhill hired him as director of photography for Between Wars (1974), and the effort earned him the Cinematographer of the Year award from the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS). Boyd made his worldwide mark with Picnic at Hanging Rock, while he was still making a name for himself. Along with many young and talented filmmakers, he continued to work throughout the 1970s on domestic productions, promoting the growth of "an authentic Australian cinema." Part of the Australian film drain of the early 1980s, Boyd journeyed to Los Angeles to work on features helmed by Aussie directors Bruce Beresford (Tender Mercies, 1983) and Gillian Armstrong (Mrs. Soffel, 1984). Unlike many of his compatriots, he also continued to shoot films Down Under. With smash hit "Crocodile" Dundee in 1986, Boyd proved that an Australian production could have the same slick look as its American competition. His craftsmanship put him in demand behind the camera on both continents, but his choice of projects grew more commercial. In the 1990s, for example, he shot the Australian film Turtle Beach and then a number of mainstream American movies including White Men Can't Jump, Tin Cup, Liar Liar, and Dr. Dolittle.

Pinpointing Boyd's personal style is difficult. He is the first to admit "the contrast between one picture and the next can be extraordinary" for a cinematographer like himself, who tailors different looks for different films. In addition, depending upon the demands of a scene, he shifts back and forth between the British and the American system. If the lighting design is complex, Boyd adopts the British "lighting cameraman" model: he concentrates on the lighting, while the camera operator works more closely with the director to set the shot. When working in the American style, Boyd collaborates more significantly with the director to determine the camera angle, composition, and choreography. Although many of Boyd's credits have come from collaborating with the same directors (Peter Weir, Gillian Armstrong, Norman Jewison, Ron Shelton), he has achieved considerably different looks on each of their projects.

Boyd distinguishes between a "cameraman's picture" and a performance piece. He earned lavish praise for his conspicuously artistic photography in Picnic at Hanging Rock, a "cameraman's picture" with a lyrical style intrinsic to the drama. He based its look on the Impressionist period of Australian art, covering his camera lens with a yellow-dyed net to simulate the golden light in the turn-of-the-century paintings. He created the hallucinatory, hypnotic feel of the picnic sequences by shooting at different camera speeds. To enhance the romantic image of the Victorian schoolgirls, Boyd backlit their hair and used longer focal-length lenses to capture them in the middleground, surrounded by wildflowers and grass rendered out of focus in the foreground and background planes. His tight framing and extreme angles convey a sense of claustrophobia and impending doom when the girls start winding their way up Hanging Rock, the site of their puzzling disappearance. Boyd's pictorialism greatly contributed to the drama's mystery and atmosphere.

When shooting a performance piece like Norman Jewison's A Soldier's Story (1984), based on Charles Fuller's Pulitzer Prize-winning play, Boyd uses conventional compositions to support the acting and direction. In a 1984 article, Boyd explains, "To me, A Soldier's Story is pretty much performance and the director's choreography of the scenes. It doesn't have—and can't support—a very strong visual style." He subordinates style to the needs of the theatrical piece, often making the camerawork disappear so that nothing detracts from the acting.

Regardless of the project, Boyd's working methodology remains the same. Valuing creative collaboration, he has studied paintings and period photographs with directors and production designers to help determine the appropriate look for a film. His favorite tools include adjustable Fresnel spotlights and color-compensating filters placed at the camera lens rather than at the lamps. Boyd is known for his exceptional night work, which includes the evening murder sequence that sets the plot of A Soldier's Story into motion, and his flair for photographing scenery in movies as diverse as Tender Mercies and Tin Cup, both shot in Texas.

Except for winning a British Academy Award for Picnic at Hanging Rock, Boyd has never collected a major cinematography award outside the Australian film industry. Several factors contribute to the lack of recognition. Boyd adapts his style to a film's shifting modes and moods, an approach that affords him less visibility than those cinematographers who constantly capture beautiful pictures or select projects on the basis of showcasing their talent. During the last decade, while feature film production and budgets have remained static in Australia, Boyd has accepted more and more work on mainstream American projects. Often he adjusted to new crews containing personnel with little experience working together. As a result, his 40 films as director of photography are a mixture of notable outings and average, impersonal jobs. Instead of developing into the visual artist promised by his earlier work, Boyd has become a hardworking, accomplished craftsman.

—Susan Tavernetti

Boyd, Russell 1944-

views updated May 29 2018

Boyd, Russell 1944-


Born April 21, 1944, in Geelong, Victoria, Australia; family in agriculture.


Agent—Cameron's, 61 Marlborough St., Seventh Floor, Surry Hills, New South Wales 2010, Australia; The Murtha Agency, 4240 Promenade Way, Suite 232, Marina Del Ray, CA 90292.


Cinematographer and camera operator. Shot news broadcasts and newsreels, worked as a set painter, and projected dailies. Worked at newsreel and documentary companies. Photographer for advertisements.


American Society of Cinematographers, Australian Cinematographers Society.

Awards, Honors:

Milli Award, cinematographer of the year, Australian Cinematographers Society, 1976, for Between Wars; nomination for Best Cinematography Award, British Society of Cinematographers, 1976, Film Award, best cinematography, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, 1977, and Saturn Award, best cinematography, Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, 1979, all for Picnic at Hanging Rock; Australian Film Institute Award, best achievement in cinematography, 1977, for Break of Day; Australian Film Institute Award, best achievement in cinematography, 1978, for The Last Wave; Citra Award and Australian Film Institute Award nomination, best achievement in cinematography, both 1980, for The Chain Reaction; Australian Film Institute Award, best achievement in cinematography, 1981, and Milli Award, cinematographer of the year, 1982, both for Gallipoli; Australian Film Institute Award nomination, best achievement in cinematography, 1983, for The Year of Living Dangerously; Australian Film Institute Award nomination, best achievement in cinematography, 1986, for Burke & Wills; Raymond Longford Award, Australian Film Institute, 1988; Australian Film Institute Award nomination, best achievement in cinematography, 1990, for Blood Oath; named to the Australian Cinematographers Society Hall of Fame, 1998; Special Achievement Award, Film Critics Circle of Australia, 2002; Film Critics Circle of Australia Award nomination, best cinematography, 2002, for Serenades; Special Award (with Peter Weir), best duo, Camerimage, 2003; nomination for the Golden Frog, Camerimage, 2003, Academy Award, National Society of Film Critics Award, Film Award nomination, British Academy of Film and Television Arts, Golden Satellite Award nomination (with Sandi Sissel), International Press Academy, Chicago Film Critics Association Award nomination, and Phoenix Film Critics Society Award nomination, all best cinematography, and American Society of Cinematographers Award nomination, outstanding achievement in cinematography in theatrical releases, all 2004, all for Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World; guest of honor, National Awards for Cinematography, Australian Cinematographers Society, 2004.


Film Cinematographer:

Hennessy's Holiday (short promotional documentary), 1966.

The American Poet's Visit (short film), 1968.

Cobar Copper: A New Era in Mining (short documentary), 1968.

The Acid Test (documentary), 1970.

What Went Wrong at Currarjong? (short documentary), c. 1970.

The Girl from the Family of Man (short film), 1970.

Jindivik: The Hunted One (short documentary), 1970.

Project Turana—A New Australian Target Concept (short documentary), 1971.

Making It Work, 1972.

Cheryl and Kevin (short documentary), 1973.

Joker (short film), 1973.

Lanshan (short film), Australian Film and Television School, 1973.

Matchless (short film), 1973.

Mr. Fixit—My Dad (short film), 1973.

This Is Philosophy (documentary), 1973.

Between Wars, Satori, 1974.

Me and You, Kangaroo (short film), Learning Corporation of America, 1974.

Amy Is a Tiger (short promotional documentary), 1975.

The Crossing (short film), 1975.

The Golden Cage, Independent Artists, 1975.

Howard (short documentary; also known as [Ric] Howard), 1975.

The Love Epidemic, 1975.

The Man from Hong Kong (also known as The Dragon Flies and Zhi dao huang long), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1975.

Modern Masters: Manet to Matisse (documentary), 1975.

Picnic at Hanging Rock, Janus Films/Atlantic Releasing, 1975.

Alcestis (short film), 1976.

Painted Horses (short documentary), 1976.

Summer of Secrets, 1976.

Backroads (short film), 1977.

Break of Day, 1977.

The Last Wave (also known as Black Rain), Cowboy Pictures/World Northal, 1977.

Plunge into Darkness, 1977.

And second unit cinematographer, The Reef (documentary; also known as Reef), 1977.

The Singer and the Dancer, 1977.

Second unit cinematographer: Australia, Stunt Rock (also known as Crash, Sorcery, and Stuntrock), Film Ventures International, 1978.

Temperament Unsuited (short film), 1978.

Dawn!, 1979.

Just out of Reach (short film), 1979.

Pulau dewata—Bali (documentary; also known as Island of the Gods), Palm Beach Pictures, 1979.

Tapak dewata—Java (short documentary; also known as Tapak dewata—Path of the Gods), 1979.

Tranquility in a Wilderness: Gardens of Early Australia (short documentary), 1979.

The Chain Reaction (also known as Detector and Nuclear Run), Hoyts Distribution/Warner Bros., 1980.

Gymnastics: Just about the Best Thing Going (short documentary), 1980.

Maybe This Time, 1980.

Gallipoli, Paramount, 1981.

Starstruck (also known as Star Struck), Cinecom, 1982.

The Year of Living Dangerously, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1982.

Phar Lap (also known as Phar Lap: Heart of a Nation), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1983.

Tender Mercies, Universal, 1983.

Mrs. Soffel, Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, 1984.

A Soldier's Story, Columbia, 1984.

Stanley: Every Home Should Have One (also known as Stanley), 1984.

Burke & Wills, Hemdale Releasing, 1985.

Crocodile Dundee (also known as "Crocodile" Dundee), Paramount, 1986.

The Perfectionist (also known as Three's Trouble), [Australia], 1987.

Crocodile Dundee II (also known as "Crocodile" Dundee II), Paramount, 1988.

High Tide (also known as Hightide), TriStar, 1988.

The Rescue, Buena Vista, 1988.

The Street of Dreams, 1988.

In Country, Warner Bros., 1989.

Almost an Angel, Paramount, 1990.

Blood Oath (also known as Prisoners of the Sun), Skouras Pictures, 1990.

Sweet Talker (also known as Confidence), New Line Cinema, 1991.

Turtle Beach (also known as The Killing Beach), Warner Bros., 1991.

Forever Young, Warner Bros., 1992.

White Men Can't Jump, Twentieth Century-Fox, 1992.

Cobb, Warner Bros., 1994.

Operation Dumbo Drop (also known as Dumbo Drop), Buena Vista, 1995.

Tin Cup, Warner Bros., 1996.

Liar, Liar, Universal, 1997.

Oscar and Lucinda, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1997.

Doctor Dolittle (also known as Dr. Dolittle, Docteur Dolittle, Elaeintohtori, and Il dottor Dolittle), Twentieth Century-Fox, 1998.

Company Man, Paramount, 2000.

American Outlaws, Warner Bros., 2001.

Serenades, Palace Films, 2001.

The Birthday (short film), 2002.

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, Twentieth Century-Fox, 2003.

Ghost Rider (also known as Spirited Racer), Buena Vista, 2007.

What They Don't Know (short film), [Australia], 2007.

Cinematographer for filmed interviews of various people.

Film Camera Operator:

Number 96 (also known as No. 96), [Australia], 1974.

The Perfectionist (also known as Three's Trouble), [Australia], 1987.

High Tide (also known as Hightide), TriStar, 1988.

Serenades, Palace Films, 2001.

Film Work; Other:

Additional photographer, Oscar and Lucinda, Fox Searchlight Pictures, 1997.

(Uncredited) Director of photography: Thailand, Stealth, Columbia, 2005.

Film Appearances:

Himself, Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! (documentary; also known as Not Quite Hollywood), Magnet Releasing/Madman Entertainment/Optimum Releasing, 2009.

Television Cinematographer; Series:

The Spoiler, Nine Network (Australia), 1972.

Television Cinematographer; Miniseries:

A Town Like Alice, Seven Network (Australia), 1980, broadcast on Masterpiece Theatre (also known as ExxonMobil Masterpiece Theatre and Mobil Masterpiece Theatre), PBS, 1981.

The Challenge, [Australia], 1986.

Television Cinematographer; Movies:

The Alternative, 1976.

Gone to Ground, 1976.

Is There Anybody There?, 1976.

The Night Nurse, 1978.

Television Cinematographer; Specials:

Handle, Pitch and Drive (promotional documentary), 1967.

Way of Life (documentary; also known as Nurses' Recruitment and Nurses' Story), 1971.

The Marty Feldman Show, Nine Network (Australia), 1972.

Benny Hill Down Under (also known as Benny Hill in Australia), 1977.

Days I'll Remember in South Australia (documentary), [Australia], 1978.

Julie Anthony's First Special, 1978.

Julie Anthony's Second Special, 1979.

New South Wales Images (documentary), [Australia], 1979.

Television Director; Specials:

Julie Anthony's First Special, 1978.

Julie Anthony's Second Special, 1979.

New South Wales Images (documentary), [Australia], 1979.

Television Appearances; Awards Presentations:

The 76th Annual Academy Awards, ABC, 2004.



Himself, A Dream within a Dream: The Making of "Picnic at Hanging Rock," AV Channel, 2004.

Video Work:

Source of images, Entrenched: The Making of "Gallipoli," Paramount Home Video, 2005.

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Russell Boyd

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