Gale Tattersall

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Santa Monica, CA

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My childhood and education were split between the outskirts of Liverpool, England, and boarding school in Darjeeling in the Himalayas in India, my father being an engineer at a steel company in Bombay, (Mumbai).

At the age of sixteen, I left home in Liverpool, to make my life in London. The beginnings of my journey to becoming a filmmaker really started as a photographer at the Architectural Association School Of Architecture in London. A visit by Buckminster Fuller, the renowned American architect and philosopher, in the summer of 1967, caused me to pick up a Bolex to document his visit. I became so enchanted by the film making process that I enrolled at the London Film School for the two-year course. At the time of Graduation, I received a grant from the British Film Institute to make a short film called “Value For Money”, inspired by a dream, and featuring Quentin Crisp, later to become famous for “The Naked Civil Servant”.

The director of the BFI Production Board at the time, Bruce Beresford, was impressed with the photography and asked me to be Camera Operator on his first feature film, “The Adventures Of Barry McKenzie”, which he was just leaving to finance in Australia. This, in turn, led to a collaboration with Bruce on many projects as Camera Operator and occasionally as his DP.

More by luck than design, I arrived in Australia at the rebirth of the Australian film industry. Directors such as Bruce Beresford, Peter Weir, George Miller and Fred Schepsi were all starting out. I really cut my teeth as an operator working on many feature films during that period. Returning to England, I teamed up with Bill Douglas, a fellow student from the London Film School, to DP his film “My Ain Folk”. This was a 65-minute feature that was made on a tiny budget of $15.000.00. It earned me the Cork Film Festival, “Director Of Photography Award” in the features category. But it was thin times for a young upstart camera operator/DP to be in London, hoping for a career in features, so I turned my attention to Advertising. Again by chance, the Golden Age of British Commercials was in full swing, directly spawning talents such as: Alan Parker, Adrian Lyne, Ridley Scott, Tony Scott, David Bailey and Hugh Hudson.

I was working and learning from some of the great DP’s in London at that time, such as David Watkin, John Alcott, Roger Pratt, Michael Seresin, & Peter Bixiou.
“The Emerald Forest” was my last major feature film as camera operator, working with John Boorman, (director), and Phillipe Rousselot (DP) for eight months in the Amazon.

After 14 years as an operator, I finally made the move to DP on a picture called “LINK” directed by Richard Franklin and produced by Rick McCullum, shooting 2nd unit.
Stanley Kubrick asked me to operate on ” FULL METAL JACKET”, but my mind was already made up to follow my dreams and be a Cinematographer. My next feature assignment was “Commrades”, a wonderful film about the “Tolpuddle Martyrs”, (which sparked off the Trade Union Movement in England).

The next few years saw me in an intensive period of shooting Commercials and several Features including “VROOM”, Beeban Kidron’s first film; “WILD ORCHID” with Zalman King, “HOMEBOY” with Michael Seresin and eventually “THE COMMITMENTS” with Alan Parker.

I then moved to Hollywood to take over the last half of “THE ADDAMS FAMILY” from Owen Roizman, directed by Barry Sonnenfeld, and produced by Scott Rudin. My career then moved more intensely into Directing and Shooting Commercials for BFCS, a British based company, with a satellite office in Santa Monica, but I then returned to the Features fray to shoot “Hideaway” and “Virtuosity” for Brett Leonard; “Tank Girl” with Rachel Talalay and “Pushing Tin” with Mike Newell starring Billy Bob Thornton, John Cusack and Angelina Jolie; and “The Jack Bull” with John Badham. In addition I shot all 12 episodes of “From The Earth To The Moon” with Tom Hanks and Ron Howard for HBO, for which I was nominated for an Emmy Award. More recently, I shot “13 Ghosts”, for Steve Beck, Gil Adler & Joel Silver for Warner Bros., and “Ghost Ship”, in Australia, for the same team.

My work includes over 500 Commercials with some of the top directors in the industry, and high profile spots such as First National Bank, Gatorade, Nike and Coca Cola. I also earned a name for myself as one of the most sought after car shooters. For the last few years, and to spend more time with my sons, I took over NBC/Universal’s “House”, personally shooting over 80 episodes, for which I was nominated in 2007 and again in 2009 for the coveted ASC award. During breaks, I shoot my own films, and commercials… recently shooting the Canon camera campaigns for Canon – Japan… which was shot exclusively on the Canon 5D DSLR… and the technology and learning process, was applied to the season finalé of “House”:, which was shot entirely on this platform…

“Photography is my life-blood… from my collection of enormous
large format cameras to the latest digital technology, to even my iPhone…
the image creating possibilities are infinite…”
Gale Tattersall

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