Doctor of Arts for Cinematographer Don McAlpine

Actor Hugh Jackman and cinematographer Don McAlpine on set.
Actor Hugh Jackman and cinematographer Don McAlpine on set.

AUSTRALIAN cinematographer Don McAlpine has worked on a number of classic films throughout his almost 50 year career, but it is the Arnold Schwarzenegger action film Predator that gets film ‘nerds’ excited.

In Perth to receive an honorary Doctor of Arts at Edith Cowan University’s graduation ceremony on Saturday, January 30, McAlpine described students’ reactions to his filmography.

“It is the weirdest thing now, you walk into a room of young nerds and they all say ‘you did Predator’; that is a pivotal film in their world,” he said.

He said it was important to give advice to the next generation of filmmakers.

“Whenever I get in front of students, I try to give them an understanding of the real world of making films,” he said.

“There have been a lot of changes in the last 47 years.”

McAlpine said the biggest change the industry experienced was the shift from film to digital, something he championed.

“I would shoot on an iPhone if the director insisted,” he said

“Economically, technologically and in my opinion aesthetically, digital is my choice.

“The director of photographer once was a god-like creature on the set because they were the only ones that knew what was going on film until others saw it 48 hours later (after it was processed in a lab).

“Now I can go home and go to sleep and not have to worry about what the lab was doing to the film.”

Despite working with some of Hollywood’s biggest heavyweights, including Harrison Ford, Robin Williams, Mel Gibson and Julia Roberts, he keeps his distance from the glitz and glamour of the world’s most famous movie town.

“I deliberately avoided getting involved in Hollywood,” he said.

“I have been friendly with the stars that I meet, but I keep my distance.”

While his latest film The Dressmaker enjoys box office success with more than $20 million in ticket sales, McAlpine looks forward to his next, Ali’s Wedding later this year.

“It is a comedy set in Melbourne about a Muslim family; I think we did a good job socially and filmically,” he said.