While Duncraig 2012 alumni Michael Thomas is usually the one behind the camera, you can see plenty of his work on screen – some currently airing on ABC’s second series of The Heights where he worked as part of the camera crew.
Michael hadn’t really thought of working or studying the film industry until he took Media as a subject at school. After graduating, he continued his studies at Mount Pleasant College for two years, obtaining a Certificate III and Certificate IV in Media before undertaking an Advanced Diploma in Screen and Media at North Metropolitan TAFE.
The following year he was accepted into the WA Screen Academy at ECU, completing a Bachelor in Media and Communications, majoring in Screen Studies.
“Upon graduating from the WA Screen Academy, I invested in some professional camera and editing equipment to specialise in those areas,” Michael said.
“It took a while for things to happen as the film industry can be difficult to break into, however once you establish good working relationships and networks with other people, you discover it is a very close-knit community, especially in Western Australia.
“I was fortunate enough to meet the crew from a Sydney-based production company, which led to me working on a number of commercials for the Marriott Group of Hotels and Resorts in Australia, Asia, and the Pacific Islands.”
Michael still jets off to work with this company when required and seeks consistent work at home.
“My current role varies depending on the type of work I am doing; typically, I am either the Cinematographer, a Camera Assistant, an Editor, or performing a combination of all three on the same project.”
“As a Cinematographer, you are responsible for making the Director and/or the clients’ concept a visual reality; this means operating and/or directing the placement of the camera and lights primarily, and all things in between, as well as communicating and collaborating with the Director and/or clients to ensure that what you set out to do is achievable and meets their objectives.
“Sometimes I will be assisting the Cinematographer on a production with setting up the camera, loading/unloading equipment, and even using the good old Clapperboard.”
Michael is driven by the story-telling nature of his work and how certain aspects and editing can influence emotional responses. Seeing the final piece after working with a team is always satisfying along with the opportunities to go to different and exciting locations for work.
Michael’s CV is impressive (take a look at his showreel at his website - https://www.bigheadfilms.com.au/), yet he said getting his Bachelor’s Degree and his Private Pilot’s License in 2018 were two of his most memorable achievements.
“I enjoy playing video games, as well as flying. I also enjoy playing my Cello, which I first began learning in Year 3 as part of the music program at St Stephen’s,” he said.
“I continue to volunteer my time in the Australian Air Force Cadets, which I have been doing since high school, but now as an Instructor of Cadets.”
Michael said juggling his extra-curricular activities at school, like the Cadets,Orchestra and being on the Student Affairs Council helped him to develop his time management, organisational and planning skills that he still uses on a daily basis.
He was once told “your attitude determines your altitude”, which is an adage that has stayed with him.