MICHAEL COULTER   BSC

 

Born: 29 August 1952, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, as Michael Daley Coulter. A.k.a. Mick Coulter.

Career: He was introduced to the local film business by his director brother-in-law, the late Charles Gormley. He started as a gopher for local production companies making 'industrial films', before moving on to load the b&w stock into camera magazines at football matches. He went freelance in 1975. He soon became acquainted with writer/director Bill Forsyth and, having recently purchased a 16mm camera, was invited to use it as the doph on Forsyth's first feature 'That Sinking Feeling'. During 1982-83 Coulter operated for Chris Menges on Forsyth's next pictures, 'Local Hero' and 'Comfort and Joy', which Coulter describes as 'unmissable opportunities to work with a man I admired tremendously.' During the early '80s he also worked on many documentaries. 'Documentaries made you resourceful, inventive. You had to make things work somehow. Also the life-experience of 'travel broadening the mind' was important for me.' He enjoyed a brief stint in France during the early '80s, as an assistant to cinematographer Pierre-William Glenn, but it was back in the UK that he passed a watershed. He was just about to start work as the camera operator on 'No Surrender', when the original doph had to pull out. 'One of producers, Mamoun Hassan, asked if I would shoot the film. I decided to pick up the ball and run with it'.

Ph numerous commercials dir by Charles Sturridge, Tom Hooper, Mark Mylod, David Jellison [for Kleenex], Gerard de Thame [for Nissan, Rolex, KIA, etc.], a.o.

Appeared in ep of BBC-tv series 'Film 96' [January].

Awards: BSC Award nom [1994] for 'Four Weddings and a Funeral'; BSC Award nom [1995], BAFTA Film Award nom [1995] and 'Oscar' AA nom [1995] for 'Sense and Sensibility'.

Website: Michael Coulter


'The Bank Job' [2007]: "Michael Coulter did not approach 'The Bank Job' with any particular filmic references, other than creating a naturalistic look using the period sets and costumes. 'We shot it in a modern way, quite edgy, with lots of Steadicam,' he says. 'The Bank Job' was shot using Arriflex D-20 cameras, often fitted with Zeiss Master Primes, shooting 4:4:4 to Sony SRW1 tape decks, or to Flash mags on Steadicam work. 'Suddenly with HD, you have a whole pile of additional stuff to contend with. What with the monitors, cables, recorders, etc, it took the crew a good week to settle into a good working rhythm. There's a debate about introducing a new grade, the Digital Imaging Technician [DIT]. I'd say such a technician is essential. Unfortunately we didn't have one.'

'During the shoot there was a huge loom of cables going back from the cameras to the recorders, which often had to be located in another room because of the operational noise level. I know that ARRI have since reduced the cabling to a single optical cable, but the camera still has this 'umbilical' to the recorder. After years of using film cameras free of cables this was a real bind.'

The weight of the gear also became a factor. 'Our shooting style called for a constantly shifting camera so there was lots of Steadicam. The weight of the camera, plus a Flash Mag and a Master Prime, was almost too much for the Steadicam sled. Our brilliant operator Stuart Howell had some specially strengthened plates made to try to take the flex out. But I think we were really at the limit weight-wise.'

Coulter believes that one of the great selling points of the D-20 is the optical viewfinder. 'Essentially the front end is a film camera, and this is a distinct advantage. But we found ourselves constantly fretting about the focus and depth-of field. The chip in the D-20 is the same size as a 35mm frame, and therefore focal lengths and depth-of-field, etc. should correspond to what we are used to with film. But there seemed to be a very narrow tolerance - it was either in or out of focus, even on wide-angle lenses. Our focus pullers Julian Bucknall and John Ferguson were often at the monitors pulling focus remotely. That said, the film-outs looked absolutely fine and didn't have the characteristics we were seeing on-set - but we could have done without this hassle.'

With HD, the ability to see pretty much the end result 'on-set' Coulter believes has its advantages and disadvantages. 'You get a good idea of what you are getting, but now every department is suddenly crowding around the monitors trying to make sure that their 'end' is holding up. You can't blame them.'

'Of course, being a period film, featuring men in white shirts and dark suits, the contrast ratio from light to shade is about as far apart as you can get. I found that I was constantly watching the exposure either on the monitor or looking at the waveform monitor. When the whites peak they are gone. At the other end, when there is not enough light on dark costumes you can lose subtle detail like the pinstripe in a suit. With film you know where you are and how to work around these sort of problems. With HD we're just only starting to develop that sort of knowledge. HD has its teething problems, and the equipment needs to be refined to make it user friendly. But it will come, it's bound to come.'" [From article by Ron Prince in 'British Cinematographer', #26, March 2008.]


 

 FILMS

197?

Lion Mor - The Great Line [Oscar Marzaroli] 16mm/c; doc/22m; cph: David Peat & Martin Singleton

1972

Islands of the West [Bill Forsyth] 16mm/c; comm doc/28m; cph: David Lewis

1974

The Hand of Adam [Murray Grigor] c; doc/35m; cph: David Peat; addph: Jon Schorstein

1978

Capital Garden [Ian Brock] 16mm/c; doc/37m; cph: David Peat, Gordon Hickie & Donald Holwill

1978

The Odd Man [- Writing for the Media] [Charles Gormley] 16mm/c; doc (on 3 screenwriters)/56m; cph: Edward McConnell & Jan Pester

1978

Welcome to Scotland [Andrew Homes] c; comm doc/25m; cph: David Peat

1979

St Godric's [Iain Smith] c; comm doc/22m; cph: Gordon Hickie

1979

That Sinking Feeling [Bill Forsyth] 16mm/c

1980

Fiddlers of James Bay [Bob Rogers] c; mus doc/29m; cph: Richard Stringer, David Peat, a.o.

1980

Gregory's Girl [Bill Forsyth] c

1982

Scotland for Fishing [Steve Clark-Hall] 16mm/c; comm doc/30m

1983

The Making of Piscator [Murray Grigor] 16mm/c; doc/17m; cph: Sandi Sissel & David Peat

1983

The Architecture of Frank Lloyd Wright [Murray Grigor] 16mm/c; doc/74m; cph: David Peat; addph: Carl Kriegeskotte & Charles Rudnick

1985

No Surrender [Peter Smith] c

1985

Heavenly Pursuits/The Gospel According to Vic [Charles Gormley] c

1986

The Good Father [Mike Newell] c; cph: Gabriel Beristáin

1986

Housekeeping [Bill Forsyth] c

1987

The Dead [John Huston] c; ph Irish landscapes; ph: Fred Murphy

1987

The Dressmaker [Jim O'Brien] c

1987

Wyllie - Straw Loco [Murray Grigor] unedited documentary footage (c; 11m)

1988

Breaking In [Bill Forsyth] c

1988

Diamond Skulls/Dark Obsession [Nick Broomfield] c; hph: Peter Allwork & Jeff Mulligan

1989

Why Don't You Dance [Curtis Radclyffe] c; short/11m

1989

Geh Kinde Geh [Crispin Reece] c; short/11m

1990

Kathy [John Madden] c

1990

Where Angels Fear to Tread [Charles Sturridge] c

1991

Spalding Gray's Monster in a Box [Nick Broomfield] c; filmed stage perf/90m

1991

The Long Day Closes [Terence Davies] c; cloud ph: Chris Plevin & Jeremy Kelly

1992

Being Human [Bill Forsyth] c

1993

Four Weddings and a Funeral [Mike Newell] c

1994

The Neon Bible [Terence Davies] cs/c; 2uc: Howard Bashew

1995

Sense and Sensibility [Ang Lee] c; 2uc: Chris Plevin & Mark Milsome

1996

FairyTale - A True Story/Illumination/One Golden Afternoon [Charles Sturridge] c; 2uc: Eddie Collins

1997

My Giant [Michael Lehmann] c

1998

Notting Hill [Roger Michell] s35/c; addph: Mike Eley; ph pick up unit: Stefan Lange

1998

Mansfield Park [Patricia Rozema] c; 2uc: Chris Plevin

2000

Killing Me Softly [Chen Kaige] c; 2uc: Shu Yang

 

[Center] - "Love Actually"

 

2002

Love Actually [Richard Curtis] s35/c; 2uc: David Morgan; ph doc kissing footage: Mike Eley

2006

Crossmaglen/Shamrock Boy [Ulrich Edel] scheduled for August start; status unknown

2007

The Bank Job [Roger Donaldson] HD (ARRI D-20)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc: Michael Brewster; ph Australia: Karl Von Moller; see above

2010

Singularity [Roland Joffé] c; UK ph; ph: Ben Nott; filmed 2010-11

2012

Rush [Ron Howard] HD (ARRI ALEXA Plus & Studio + Canon EOS C300)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema)/c; Nürburgring pre-shoot ph; ph: Anthony Dod Mantle

2013

Maleficent [Robert Stromberg] HD (ARRI ALEXA Plus & Studio)-to-35mm scope (+ D-Cinema [also 3-D version])/c; addph (pickups); ph: Dean Semler (2012)

2014

Hot Pursuit/Don't Mess with Texas [Anne Fletcher] c; replaced by Oliver Stapleton partway through filming

 

 TELEVISION

1974

The Long Sprint [- Diary of an Olympic Athlete] [Michael Alexander] doc/49m; co-addph; ph: Mark Littlewood; filmed 1974-76

1978

Shinty Town [exec prod: James Dewar] doc/39m; cph: Martin Singleton; ep #2 of 15-part BBC-tv series 'A Diary of Britain'

1983

The Dybbuk [Geoffrey Haydon] tvm/60m

1984

Edinburgh Inside Out [Don Coutts] doc/120m/v; cph: Dave Swan

1984

Repercussions - A Celebration of African-American Music [ep 'On the Battlefield', 'Legends of Rhythm and Blues' & 'Sit Down and Listen' dir by Geoffrey Haydon] 7-part mus doc series, 1985; for Channel 4

1985

Good Times Down Home and Back Home [Michael Alexander] mus doc/60m; cph: Mark Littlewood; ep Channel 4 series 'Down Home'

1985

Cape Breton and Quebec [Michael Alexander] mus doc/52m/16mm; cph: Martin Singleton; ep Channel 4 series 'Down Home'

1988

A Vote for Hitler [Paul Bryers] tvm

1989

Bearskin – An Urban Fairytale [Ann & Eduardo Guedes] tvm

1990

The Widowmaker [John Madden] tvm

1992

Foreign Affairs [Jim O'Brien] tvm

1994

The Infiltrator [John Mackenzie] tvm

1995

Eskimo Day/Interview Day [Piers Haggard] tvm; ep BBC-tv series 'Screen One'

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1969

Learning Space [David Lewis; comm doc] editor; ph: Jon Schorstein

1970

A Line for All Seasons [Eddie McConnell; doc] co-c.asst; ph: E. McConnell

1970

Look to the Sea [Laurence Henson; doc] c.asst; ph: Eddie McConnell

1970

Settled Out of Court: Children's Hearings in Scotland [Laurence Henson; doc] co-c.asst; ph: David Lewis & Mark Littlewood

1974

It Wasn't Me Mister [Michael Alexander; doc] c.asst; ph: Mark Littlewood

1974

The Pine Tree [Eddie McConnell; short] c.asst; ph: E. McConnell

1974

Sea City - Greenock [Laurence Henson; comm doc] co-c.asst; ph: Eddie McConnell & Mark Littlewood

1974

Polar Power [Charles Gormley; comm doc] co-c.asst; ph: David Lewis

1975

Rise and Fall of the Scottish Daily News [Steve Clark-Hall; doc] co-sound; ph: Gordon Coull & Jan Pester

1975

Places... or People [Charles Gormley; comm doc] c.asst; ph: Jon Schorstein

1975

The Islanders [George Sluizer; doc] c.asst; ph: Fred van Kuijk

1976

Blow by Blow with the Strathclyde Police Band [?; mus doc] co-c.asst; ph: Mick Campbell & David Peat

1976

The Caledonian Account [Brian Crumlish; educational doc] asst editor; ph: Jon Schorstein

1977

Cumbernauld Hit [Murray Grigor; short] c.asst; ph: Edward McConnell

1977

The Living Land [Charles Gormley; doc] c.asst; ph: Jon Schorstein

1979

La mort en direct/Deathwatch [Bertrand Tavernier] 2nd c.asst; ph: Pierre-William Glenn

1979

Une semaine de vacances/A Week's Holiday [Bertrand Tavernier] co-c.op; ph: Pierre-William Glenn

1981

Coup de torchon/Clean Slate [Bertrand Tavernier] c.asst; ph: Pierre-William Glenn

1981

Espion, lève-toi [Yves Boisset] co-c.asst; ph: Jean Boffety

1982

Local Hero [Bill Forsyth] c.op; ph: Chris Menges

1983

Comfort and Joy [Bill Forsyth] c.op; ph: Chris Menges

1985

Restless Natives [Michael Hoffman] c.op; ph: Oliver Stapleton