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. As we progress in this business over the decades a few people make an indelible mark on your learning curve. Brolga was one of those people. In the late 70’s I saw him show up at a shoot that was being attended by other news crews. He was filming a doc. He came in with 2 Lowell 2K kits and set them up in minutes – illuminated the whole room. Then he ‘danced’ with his camera while everyone just watched. I have never forgotten that day and I tried to copy him, which is the highest form of compliment. Even though I live in Canada & most folks here didn’t have the pleasure of Brolga’s company, I always tell people that story. And he married one of the most wonderful women in Australia. To you, Sue, a big hug. JB was just amazing!

  2. A man who dedicated himself to a complete love of his craft, it’s people and the mediums of film and television. A man whose character, generosity and ability dwarfed all others. A man who never forgot that television should be fun, creative and playful. Today there is a gaping hole in our industry, our hearts and our workplaces, where John Bowring once was.

  3. I am shocked and saddened at the news of John’s passing. He was one of the people who I believed would be around for a very long time. Being part of the ACS at the time when John was also on the board was a privilege I will not forget. His expertise and generosity was wonderful to behold. My condolences and sympathy to Sue and their family. Also to all at Lemac and the ACS.
    I have heard it said to “live one’s life so as to leave a legacy”. I think John’s life truly exemplifies this and we are so much the richer for having known him. RIP

  4. I’m devastated by this news. John was not meant to go this early, he was one of the good guys who absolutely loved the business. On his return from this trip we were to embark on a history of GTV9 where he started as a fresh faced teen so many years ago. He was sorting through old footage at Nine like a kid in a candy shop in preparation for the task. What a major loss to us all.
    Comforting thoughts to Sue and family.
    Daryl Somers

  5. I had the good fortune to make JB’s acquaintance in the late eighties whilst working as a stills photographer. We shared time in choppers and on the deck of various oil production facilities – Bass strait and the Timor sea. John was one of those characters that you took a liking to on first meeting him. Always generous in sharing his knowledge and with his time, yet quite ready to offer a forthright opinion and tell it as he saw it. We have all benefited many times over, as John and Sue hosted industry nights and ACS meetings. An evening at Lemac became an extension of home, with all made to feel welcome.

    John you will be missed but not forgotten. Deepest sympathies to Sue and family.

  6. A mentor to me and so many in the industry, I have much to thank him for. John is one of the most committed, enthusiastic and knowledgeable men in film and television. He’s been an inspiration to us all. You’ll be sadly missed.

    My thoughts are with Sue and the family.

  7. This is a tragic loss for Sue and the children, the Lemac family and the film and television industry in Australia. John Bowring was one of our most generous and loved personalities, and one of the nicest guys you could ever hope to work with. Although he was always in demand, Brolga was never too busy to stop and chat if he bumped into you at Lemac. He was encouraging, supportive and a great adviser to those of us who have grown up in the industry that he gave so much to.

    We will all miss his smile, his laughter and the enormous talent of a man who typified all that is inspirational in our industry.

  8. Very sad day for all who knew John. I had the pleasure of working with him over the years, and his generosity of spirit was extraordinary.
    He was always ready to help anyone who wanted to have a ago and extend their knowledge of the craft of film making.
    RIP John. Condolences to his family.

  9. John was one of nature’s gentlemen.

    I worked with him as the greenest of green cadet journos in the late ’70’s and early ’80’s. He was so patient and taught me so much ..particularly the paramount importance of pictures in TV News and the absolutely vital ability in our industry of being able to laugh at yourself.

    In the years since have run into him in the corridors of many TV stations with his
    ready smile..his booming voice..and boundless enthusiasm.

    John had a great passion for our industry.He’ll be sorely missed.

  10. Absolutely stunned & shocked by the news. From humble beginnings in a dodgy little warehouse in Church Street to the current national Lemac empire, I’ll remember JB as a passionate film man, happiest with an Arri in the back of his 4WD on the way to a shoot, matched only by his family around him. My deepest condolences to Suey, Jack & Kate, Annie, Dave & families. Trust the Big Man upstairs will have a bundy & coke waiting for you JB.

  11. A sad goodbye to one of the best of nature’s gentlemen in the film and TV industry.
    John was not only a great mentor to young aspiring camerapeople. but also to old whitebeards like me, because he made sure he was continuously abreast of all the latest developments in all types of gear and was always wiling to share his knowledge.
    Not knowing he was away, about a month ago I emailed him with a question about the GoPro Hero camera (I subsequently purchased one from Lemac) and his reply started “Hi David, greetings from Chile” and I was very pleased to hear he was on holiday with his family – so the news this morning came as a really terrible shock.
    I will miss John greatly, not only on a personal level, but also in his very important role as a one-man ginger group within the Australian Cinematographers Society. Many of the major improvements in the society and its prestigious Awards stem from his insights – and foresight.
    Despite keeping so busy, John was a great family man and my sympathy goes particularly to Sue, without whose unfailing support neither John nor Lemac could have prospered as they have.

  12. JB is irreplaceable. Never was anyone quite like him for sheer have- a- go- guts and kindness, ever passionate, humorous and ever the thoughtful man. I cant imagine the vacuum he must leave in the life of Sue and his family given the loss to the industry. I cant imagine he is gone. A lot of sad people in town tonight. I hope in his life time he knew how much we all loved and admired him. Love to you Sue.

  13. A journo/producer at Nine News in the mid-70s, I worked with John as an editor and cameraman – and along with so many was captivated by the mad little bear of a bloke who lived for his craft. He turned up at our place at 11pm one night, Sue in tow, rolling her eyes, as he bellowed (off-key) ‘Hooray For Hollywood’ on the front porch, proudly showing off a decrepit 35mm Mitchell camera he’d found. He never lost that gleam in his eye when around film – or any other time, for that matter. Sue became the ‘head’ of the business, but Brolga was its heart. He’s left a gap in the industry, but a chasm for Sue and the family – there are no words.

  14. John and I worked together on Willesee at Seven. (1978). my first job in TV and he was the first cameraman I worked with… CP 16. He taught me a lot. What a great man and sad loss for all us. Sue my condolences and prayers. Such a talented mentor to many of us.

  15. To Sue and the kids our hearts and love go out to you.

    And those hearts would have been much smaller and worse off if not for John’s commitment, loyalty and persistence in making us realise that it is the art of giving that makes better people and in that giving (along with a good story) which gives us great film and television.

    A gentleman lost, yet he would want us not to stop chasing and nailing our dreams.

  16. Saddened to hear this News today, worked with John many times through the 80s and he was always in my experience a sweet man, and a fine Cameraman. My thoughts to Sue and his family..

  17. As an independent producer I am saddened by the news that the legendary John Bowring has died. He was a great supporter of young and aspiring filmmakers. He backed films like Wolf Creek throwing the doors of Lemac open to Greg McClean to make his stand out Aussie debut feature film.

    He offered the same support to many producers and directors myself included. As i complete my first film as Producer I can say that it wouldn’t have happened without JB. Lemac backed my film and I haven’t had a chance to show him the final cut.

    Mate thank you you will be sorely missed.

    Aaran Creece
    Amazon Entertainment Pty Ltd

  18. I was “Brolga Bill’s” assistant news cameraman a few times at GTV in early seventies,and,on occasions saw the absolute dedication and passion he had for the buisness.He was an innovator and problem solver as well as in love with his work.He inspired me to be better and instilled dedication and persistance in creating images and feel for anything he put his hands to.In the heat of a news shoot and rush to film, once, I neglected to load his magazine properly and it cost us the story as well a rap over the knuckels for John ,as he ultimately was respomsible for the stuff up…he took it on the chin and gave me a look I,ll never forget,and to this day I dont forget Him……….needless to say I didnt assist him again though.lol. rest in peace and lots of love to the family and friends……

  19. John was a legend in the industry and a bloody good bloke.

    He started off as a news cameramen at GTV. When he was working the night shift, he needed a sun-gun (a light for night shooting), but he couldn’t get Nine to buy a new one, so he bought one and hired it back to Nine. His Sun-gun was in constant demand. From this one purchase John built up the company the industry now relies on, Lemac.

    He will be missed by many.

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