When Swinburne alumnus Thom Neal graduated, he never imagined that he would receive one of the most prestigious awards a young filmmaker can win.
Recently named as the 2013 Emerging Cinematographer of the year at the Australian Cinematographers Society National Awards, Mr Neal has received a $3000 grant, which will allow him to travel to Poland and attend Cameraimage, the largest cinematography festival in the world.
“When I travel to the Cameraimage festival I’ll be able participate in master classes, forums and screenings, which will help me to build on my cinematography skills,” Mr Neal said.
“Living in Australia, we are very remote to the rest of the film industry, so it will be great to visit Europe and immerse myself in their film culture.”
Completing Swinburne’s Bachelor of Film and Television in 2012, Mr Neal said that the wide range of subjects offered in the three year course helped him develop his passion for cinematography.
“Swinburne’s film course is broader in what they teach, compared to many other film schools. This was perfect for me, as I was very much interested in the cinematography side of things,” Mr Neal said.
“The resources available to young filmmakers at Swinburne are very impressive. It was a pretty fantastic experience to be able to play with some of the top end gear. This enabled me to really experiment with the content I created.”
Swinburne Film and Television Lecturer, Dr Jeff Bird, said Mr Neal was a stand-out student during his time at Swinburne.
“What was unique about Thom was that he was very innovative in the way he would shoot his projects,” Dr Bird said.
“Thom would often experiment with different mediums, using both digital and motion picture film to create some beautiful results.”
“Thom put in a tremendous amount of time into his film course, always undertaking his own research and projects outside of class time. He was always a very proactive student and this has clearly paid off for him.”
Although he has only been out of university for a short time, Mr Neal said he has already been exposed to many different areas of the film industry.
“While I’m still at the beginning of my career, I’ve already been quite fortunate to have had my work screened both nationally and internationally. I’ve been able to shoot a variety of productions and stories, continually working with new, great collaborators.”
Mr Neal is the second Swinburne recipient in as many years to receive the Emerging Cinematographer Award, with Edward Goldner taking home the same honour in 2011.