Definition March 2023 - Web


CAMERAMAN DUNCAN STINGEMORE says he owes his career to being in the right place at the right time. The very first email he sent to any production company after leaving university in 2006 was to a production manager at ITV Studios in London – who’d had a runner quit that morning. “She replied immediately asking if I was free to come in right away, and within a couple of hours I was on a train to London to meet her and get started,” he says. “She put me on a week-long contract, which became six months, and somehow I’ve been (more or less) constantly busy ever since.” “Looking back,” Stingemore says, “I was amazed to find that in factual TV even the runners and researchers were occasionally given handheld Sony Z1 or EX3 cameras to go off and shoot B roll, vox pops and pickups.” What’s more, because he had a film degree and past camera use to his name, he gained a lot of filming experience very early on in his career. “That’s despite not really knowing what I was doing half the time.” After cutting his teeth on the road with an assistant producer, shooting development taster tapes or short sequences for all kinds of different programmes (the vast majority of which would never see the light of day), Stingemore also assisted highly experienced DOPs on the main shoots, learning all he could along the way. “After a few years on the production side, I eventually set up a company in 2011 and went out on my own – which was a fairly daunting prospect,” he adds. “Fortunately, though, I’d made just about enough contacts by that time to pick up work through the early years – and I’ve muddled through ever since.” RISING THROUGH THE RANKS From a ‘send-and-hope email’ to working on Louis Theroux Interviews... for BBC Two at the end of last year is some career journey, but that’s exactly what happened. The six-part series features a new celebrity subject each week (Stormzy, Dame Judi Dench, Yungblud, Bear Grylls, Katherine Ryan and Rita Ora), with episodes structured around a searching sit-down interview, plus several observational sequences woven throughout. “The high-profile nature of the guests meant that there was a chance to work with a larger crew – and more kit”

SELF-STARTER Since beginning as a runner, Duncan Stingemore has worked extensively behind the camera

“I actually came onto the series quite late in the day, once the first three episodes had already wrapped,” Stingemore recalls. “I’d been on a different production for Mindhouse [founded by Theroux, Arron Fellows and Nancy Strang], working on a show called Gods of Tennis since the spring, and I knew the production manager Mari Hardwick from a Discovery series we both worked on several years previous. “She called me in July to see if I was free to cover a shoot one Sunday for the Rita Ora episode,” he says. “Having been a huge fan of Louis’ films since I was at school, I jumped at the chance.” After getting on well with the team, Stingemore was invited back for another shoot – this time with Bear Grylls a few weeks later. “Then, when the Katherine Ryan episode started filming in September, I was happily free to work it from the start.” Not only was Stingemore brought on quite late, but Theroux’s films tend to be shot by their directors rather than DOPs. However, he believes he was fortunate because the programme-makers took a slightly different approach on this series. “The change in format and high-profile nature of the guests on this series meant that there was a chance to work with a larger crew – and more kit than usual,” he explains. “My role on the Katherine Ryan episode was to shoot the observational sequences in a comedy club and day spa, as well as operating on the main interview in her home. The interview itself was beautifully lit by DOP Johann Perry and gaffer Rob White.” NATURAL LIGHT Stingemore explains that, when filming observational sequences, the main challenges centre around elements

77. MARCH 2023

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