Some peoples' life experience transforms them, making it almost impossible to define links with the past. Michael Edols' life hasn't been like that. It's been a series of stepping stones, beginning in Northern Borneo at age three.
He and his father (who was building an open-air cinema on the banks of the Segama River) lived in the Murut longhouses for seven years. Each day of those years, Michael was taught by the Dusan jungle hunters, learning to observe and tell stories as they do. Hundreds of images and sensations still flood his memory - perspectives on the natural environment and a way to live far beyond Western experience. At the age of ten, he was sent to a Melbourne boarding school, and his stories were not believed. He picked up a box Brownie with serious intentions, and began to record images.
By 1962, 30-year-old Edols was working in commercial still photography, and three years later, was lugging a clock-wound film camera for ABC-TV news in Sydney. No longer the omnipotent observer, he experienced what he calls the 'witness state', recalling: "I was uncomfortable with the power of the lens to make so-called history from a visit by a new American President".
He met the Australian author, Charmian Clift, not long after, at the Vietnam moratorium. Little people didn't matter, she told him. To effect real change, you had to work from the inside. Edols dropped the news camera and began to make documentaries, gaining his first credit as DP on the feature film, The Office Picnic in 1968.
A 35mm Cameflex and 16mm NPR sync cameras were his tools. On assignment for the Commonwealth Film Unit, he rolled hundreds and thousands of feet of film throughout the Asia Pacific, scooping awards for titles including Sports Medicine: Mr. Symbol Man: and Our Asian Neighbours India Series.
"Out They Go is a cinema short, that gave me an opportunity to
experiment with simultaneous film flashing. It claimed the ACS
Award and accredited me as Director and Cinematographer with
Malcolm Richards (now MD of Cameraquip create link
www.cameraquip.com.au) and Peter Levy A.S.C now Hollywood DP," he
says. Over the following five year period, he continued developing
his cinematography skills, yet, by necessity he had commenced to
'cross the line' in the documentaries. Tidikawa and Friends, and
his own dramatised documentaries, Lalai Dreamtime and Floating,
all stand in the annals of Australian classics. "It was my
experience that this was a time in Australian cinema history when
so many worked together," he says now.
|© 2001 Michael Edols|