Taking a dip

Murray Milne shooting in Iceland for Toa Fraser's Welcome to the Thrill

Murray Milne shooting in Iceland for Toa Fraser’s Welcome to the Thrill

When we spoke, Murray Milne was prepping for a night shoot in a swimming pool for a TVC to advertise a waterproof Samsung Galaxy cellphone. Underwater work is one of the particular areas of camera work that Milne specialises in, along with aerial.

Originally based in Wellington, Milne began his feature career as a clapper loader on Geoff Murphy’s Goodbye Pork Pie. He was cinematographer for Peter Jackson’s Braindead and Meet the Feebles (the latter in a camera department that also included a young Matt Noonan as puppet grip) before joining the drift north as Auckland tightened its grip on TV production in the early nineties.

Recently he headed to Iceland to shoot a sequence in a glacier iceberg lake for Toa Fraser’s upcoming doco Welcome to the Thrill. Previous water shoots for features have included Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings and Jonathan King’s Under the Mountain.

Although Milne greatly enjoys international travel, the trip to Iceland was one of those where practical considerations meant spending more time in the air getting to and from Iceland than on the ground (or in the water) doing the work.

The challenge was the cost of moving the camera kit as excess baggage. Some airlines charge per kilo for the journey, some per piece per leg. As it turned out, the most economical option was on the least traveller-friendly route. A bag of equipment doesn’t much care about a couple of seven-hours stop-overs en route. Passengers feel a bit differently.

The trip came about because Welcome to the Thrill was set up as a co-production, accessing government-funded incentive schemes here and in the UK. In order to tick the New Zealand boxes, the production needed a NZ camera operator on the Iceland shoot – even though it would clearly have been much cheaper to use either a local or one from the UK.

Still, the incentives meant Welcome to the Thrill went ahead, which it (and many other productions in the last two years) might not have done otherwise.