Vale: John Bowring

Cinematographer John Bowring A.C.S., who owns the largest privately owned film & digital equipment supplier, has died suddenly.

Cinematographer John “Brolga” Bowring A.C.S., who owns Lemac -Australia’s largest privately owned film & digital equipment supplier- has died suddenly.

He died in Hong Kong of a suspected aneurism, on his way home from the US. His wife was with him in Hong Kong.

Bowring’s standing in the industry is significant, with Lemac offices in Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane constantly hiring equipment to dozens of productions. For over 35 years Lemac has been synonymous with cameras, offering sales and service, production support, crewing and facilities.

Passionate about cameras and cinematography, Bowring passed on his expertise to many aspiring camera operators, who are now working in the biz whilst also developing new equipment for productions with unusual demands. He was also respected by the New Zealand industry.

Before the days of videotape being widely used on location, Bowring was in constant demand as a cameramen shooting on 16mm. He filmed for all of the commercial networks, the ABC and the BBC shows including The Paul Hogan Show, Shirls’ Neighbourhood, Hey Hey it’s Saturday and Clive James’ Postcard programs. He also shot all of Nine’s “Still the One” promos.

Source: Screen Hub
Photo: John Brawley

48 Responses

  1. Although it has been many years since seeing John, upon recently hearing the sad news I want to express my deepest sympathies to Sue and family. Sincerely, Debra Olney

  2. I first met John about 30 years ago at his Church Street office when I introduced him to ” The House ” in Highett Street.John could see the potential and over the years expanded his activities into the adjacent factory which was famous for its pigeons.With hard work, determination and a smile on his face John & Sue have developed the property into the Lemac HQ it is today.Although I have not seen John for some time, his help and friendship over the years has been very much appreciated and his passing is a great loss. My deepest condolences to Sue,family and the Lemac team.

  3. Have known John since last century and what an inspiration he was! Bought my last camera from him, watched him sell my next camera at his last Lemac industry night about 6 weeks ago and currently have one of his cameras on hire. Was using that camera offshore all last week hence the lateness of this note. John, we will all miss your enthusiasm and your totally deserved
    guruness! To Sue, Kate and Jack – Colleen and i send our sincere condolences. To the Lemac family – we kmow how much you will all miss him – just be proud you knew this man

  4. We were very sad to hear the news of John’s sudden passing. As one of our first dealers, he helped establish Cinekinetic in the Australian film industry . Although
    we didn’t see John very often we always though of him with fondness. He will be sadly missed.

    Our deepest sympathy to Sue.

  5. I was deeply saddened by this news, John was a dear friend to our family, we have shared so many wonderful trips together on the houseboat, in Thailand and travelling through France. The ‘baaah crikey’ legend will always be in my heart. BDA London is holding a memorial service on 26th April for John’s friends and colleagues on the other side of the pond. Contact BDA or Bruce Dunlop for details.

  6. The Brolga was a true giant of the film and TV industry. I met “Brolg” over 30 years ago, and can honestly say he was the most generous man I’ve ever met. Generous, beyond comprehension. He delighted in parting with his knowledge of Film and camera’s. Was always assisting us mere mortal’s with the finer details of film making. The fondest memories of Brolga though, come from almost 30 years ago wher he taught me the fine art of “Belly Slamming” which he was a master, and the art of the progressive dinner party. These times will live with me forever. Brolga, I only hope the great man upstairs has already given you a film camera and a cast of green wannabe camera operators to teach. Your legacy to this planet is beyond words, taken way too early, and left a huge void in everyone’s hearts. Take it easy “Brolg”. You are a legend. My deepest condolences to Sue and the family.

  7. I first met John in 1975 when I worked at Commercial Film Laboratories in the GTV 9 building. John was then an assistant cameraman in News. Each afternoon he would bring down his film to be processed. That’s where we got to know each other, from conversations about mutual interests and experiences – we had both previously been assistant projectionists at drive-ins. I soon got used to seeing this teddy bear of a guy, who always had a happy greeting.

    Jump forward to 1981, and John had rented a building in Church Street, Richmond, which was Lemacs first commercial headquarters. It consisted of two long rectangular rooms. He sub-let the back room to Dennis Nicholson and myself that year as we were launching our ModelMation Film Effects. One day John said he had just come back from the city, where he had gone to register a business name. He obviously hadn’t given it any thought in advance, and just plucked a name out of the air. Dennis and I must surely have been amongst the first, if not the first, to hear the now famous story of how Lemac got its name. “It’s camel spelled backwards” said John, and laughed. A bit later in time he told us about his fight with the Richmond council, who didn’t want him to launch a business in that area, and of the long and horrible job of cleaning away all the pigeon droppings from the building. Pioneering days.

    On Tuesday, March 21, 1989, John just happened to be walking along Bridge Road, Richmond, and wondered why there was such a crowd at Ainger’s auction room, so he went in to investigate. What was being auctioned was the photography and early cinema equipment collection of the late Ron Davis from Bendigo. I was there, but it was standing-room-only and I never knew John was there. It was a few years later when we met at a party at Dennis Nicholson’s place that John told me the story, of how he had walked in off the street and bought a hand crank 35mm Pathe studio camera and one or more projector heads.

    Probably the last time I saw John was sometime during the past decade when he took me to a storage area at Lemac and showed me one of those projectors, because I was researching its maker at the time.

    Being out of the industry I rarely saw John, but when I did there was always the same joking affectionate greeting — “Ah!……….Mister Osborne” from John and “Ah!……..Mister Bowring” from me. A traditional greeting that stretched back at least 25 years. And even if he hadn’t seen you in years, he always picked up the conversation as if he had seen you only yesterday.

    The above are just a few memories that stand out in my mind. Many people change when they achieve success, but John never did. The last time I saw him he was still the same as he had been back in 1975. “Ah!…….Mister Bowring,” I will never forget you, the happy teddy bear, always with that infectious grin. R.I.P. old friend.

    My heartfelt condolences to Sue and family.

  8. I first met John while I was working in the Channel 7 film processing lab. He would flounce in with 1 or 2 CP 16 magazines under his arm loudly proclaiming ” film is the medium of tomorrow”. And we almost believed him.
    He will be sorely missed by the industry.

  9. To the family of John Bowring, my deepest condolences. I am yet another Kingswood Collegian who was amazed at Johns’ love and passion for film and cameras during our years at school from 1968 to 1973. John it was far too early for you, but may you rest in peace, and start your own film club in heaven. God Bless.

  10. Reading through all these expressions of love and respect from so many people whose lives and careers were touched by the incomparable and irreplaceable John Bowring only barely touches upon the impact of the man who I was so grateful and proud to call my friend for the last forty years.
    His legacy is amazing. His drive, enthusiasm, generosity, imagination and sensitivity is legendary. Generations of film makers have been shaped and nutured by him and his company Lemac.
    We rarely saw each other since I left working in television but I always knew that anytime we did catch up, it would be like no time had passed at all.
    I will particularly miss his humour. No time spent in Brolga’s company was without a laugh and an encouraging word. He was a genuine friend and a great bloke. My thoughts are now with Sue and his family. I cannot imagine their loss.

  11. John’s premature death was not only a shock to AMMPT members but to the entire Australian film & television community. As a foundation Victorian member of our group, his passion for preserving the heritage of our industry should not be underestimated as he attempted to encourage others to retain our links with the past. Having the privelige of working with John over several decades and knowing of his generosity of knowledge and encouragement to those that followed him, his legacy to the industry will surely rate him as one of the poineers to be recognised when AMMPT eventually gets community support for its objectives.

    Daryl Binning a.c.s.,
    The Australian Museum of Motion Picture & Television (Inc.)

  12. I’m totally shocked and saddened by the news. My thoughts are with Sue and the family. The industry has lost one of the greats. What an incredible legacy he leaves with anyone who has been fortunate enough to work with him. Way way too early.

  13. John Bowring will be remembered as a great friend and workmate who always had a smile and a good laugh. A leader in his field, he will be sadly missed but his legacy will live on. He will be remembered with great fondness by everyone in the industry. Our love and thoughts and sincere condolences go out to Sue and family and the Lemac team. Jim, Jen, Marisa and Andrew Brown.

  14. John Bowring will be remembered as a great friend and workmate who always had a smile and a good laugh. A leader in his field, he will be sadly missed but his legacy will live on and we all have wonderful memories of “Brolga. ” Our love, thoughts and sincere condolences go out to Sue and family and the Lemac team. Jim, Jen, Marisa and Andrew Brown.

  15. Saddened to hear of the sudden passing of John. I was fortunate enough to work on what was probably his first major film, ‘Retrogression’ in form 4 at Kingswood College in Box Hill. I played one of the leads in the film in which John was able to procure all the camera, lighting and sound equipment from Channel 7. John was able to get a scene from the movie shown on This Week Has Seven Days followed by 3 of us being interviewed by David Johnston. Our years at Kingswood to year 12 in 1973 were fortunate in having John as a student, as he was rarely without a still or movie camera in his hand. He filmed hours upon hours of our school life and camps including the legendary 1973 Australian History tour to the goldfields towns of Victoria. Beyond our school life I caught up with John at home and work on occasions and at the AFL Grand Finals. Although obviously extremely busy at these times, John always had time for a chat. Sincere condolences to Sue, Jack and Kate. Gone way to soon mate, RIP.

  16. Kingswood College Box Hill has lost one of its’ favourite sons. As a schoolmate, John’s passion for film saw him cheekily approach HSV7 as a raw 15 year old to “borrow” a camera to film the school play. HSV7 was that impressed with the quality that they put it to air not long after. Thereby started the career.
    JB, you’re the first of the 73 class to take the journey. You will be sadly missed.
    Deepest sympathy to John’s family.

  17. I am honored to have known John Bowring ACS for just the few times we would meet at the annual NAB convention. He was generous with his knowledge, as well as his smile. We sat together in several DP workshops, and he would generously invite me along with his Lemac staff to lunch or dinner. On the trade floor, he could only take a few steps before being warmly greeted by legends of the craft, the namesakes of large companies or by DPs, ACs, Gaffers, and he would introduce me to them as though I was his and their equal. For a shooter from Iowa, this was such a heady experience which gives me pause as I write this.
    I was with him only last Tuesday at NAB in Vegas, walking the floor, looking at lenses and cameras. I even helped him with a vendor interview he conducted as part of his much-anticipated Australian NAB tech report. He was the highlight for me at NAB over the last seven years and always more interesting than the latest gear around us.
    My deepest condolences to his wife Sue, children Jack and Kate, his Lemac family, and the ACS. NAB will certainly not be the same for me, dare I say, the industry, with John’s passing.

    Paul Hickey
    Des Moines, Iowa USA

  18. I first met John while working at TCN9, Sydney. He was shooting their “Still the One” promos and he took a chance, letting me shoot some of the shots with him to which i was very grateful. His most amazing trait was definitely his enthusiasm. There i was, a 21 year old bright eyed youngster, and in front of me was this “Old Guy” running around with a Super 16mm camera like he was younger than me!

    Enthusiasm like this will be missed.

  19. I had the priviledge of knowing and working with John on various technical projects over the years and he was one of us, a real industry pillar, never doing things by halves and being totally involved to the last detail. He enjoyed the excitement.

    It is through these special people we extend the boundaries and learn our trade. He is a man we were about to meet with, post the NAB Show, to cover the latest in technology, which was not only passionate about, he unselfishly shared all his excellent documentary material with his colleagues.

    We will all miss him greatly. Our condolences to Sue and his Family

Leave a Reply