Conrad Mill writes an obituary for cameraman Craig Watkins in today’s Sydney Morning Herald, regarded as a pioneer director of photography in the Sydney television industry.
He started in the 1970s, worked through a period of enormous technological change in television in the 1980s and eventually had his own highly regarded company, West Botswana Productions.
Watkins joined TCN Nine in Sydney in 1971 as a cadet, working with Ron Casey on the sports show before settling in the camera department. He worked in the studios and outside broadcast in sport, entertainment, drama and commercial production
He worked through the introduction of colour television and became the head cameraman of TCN’s studios, was part of the original camera team for World Series Cricket, and worked on The Mike Walsh Show five days a week, live to air.
Watkins was fascinated with single-camera lighting, and was often sought by female presenters who adored his lighting. Using Betacam, he experimented with making commercials at TCN and was s in constant demand by all the networks, US and British companies.
He also believed passionately in training the next generation of camera operators and lobbied management for training programs.
He once had a gun pulled on him at a cricket match and his tripod was smashed during a riot in Jamaica. As he jokingly said: ”You’re not a real cameraman until you have a gun aimed at you while you’re shooting.”