I was born with the TV & Film business in my DNA. My father worked for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (you probably know them as MGM – the film studio with the roaring lion logo). He met the woman who would become his wife, and my mum, who was working as an usherette (you probably don’t remember them) at the Metro Theatre in Kings Cross which has been home to production company Kennedy Miller Mitchell, creators of Mad Max, Babe and Happy Feet etc etc etc .
Dad would take me to work with him sometimes during the school holidays. I would watch the movies through the port hole next to the massive projectors with a set of headphones so I could hear the dialogue over the noise of the machines. For the first 10 years of my life I thought that was just the way people watched movies. I couldn’t see in the darkness of the cinema that people were sitting in comfy chairs watching the movie and listening to the sound through giant speakers, not crappy little headphones.
After that Dad moved into the TV business and went to work for the ABC, Australian Broadcasting Commission as it was then known.
Many families have movie night and in our house it was every Friday. But we did things old school. Dad would bring home a 16mm film of a classic old movie or TV series from work, put the screen up, thread the projector and let rip – the first true home cinema, 30 years before giant plasmas invaded the lounge room!
Fast forward to my last year of high school. I’d been taking pictures, and earning a nice little income from the kids at school, taking photographs at every sporting carnival, excursion and birthday party and selling them prints. I went off to NSW University College of Fine Arts to refine my craft and explore other forms of photography. After three years, I never wanted to see another photograph again! Every day, day after day, making photographs, printing photographs, reviewing photographs, analysing photographs, critiquing photographs and visiting art galleries to look at, you guessed it, more photographs. I even had chemical burns on my knuckles from the amount of time I spent elbow deep in a soup of developer, stop and fixer. We were far too cool to wear protective gloves and there was no such thing as Occupational Health & Safety.
I rebelled and became a copywriter in an advertising agency. Enough of photography! I will work with words. Well, not so much. Most great ads have two things; words and pictures. For the next 20 years as I progressed up the advertising agency creative ladder I worked with some of the most amazing photographers in the world. And of course I made TV commercials. I’ve spent thousands of hours on film sets making TV commercials – hours of boredom punctuated by moments of the most fun you could ever have. My love of photography returned after a few years and in all honesty photography has never been far from my heart. A camera has always been within easy reach of my right hand (a proper camera, not a phone camera).
So with a passion for photography, the film and TV business in my blood, not to mention years of experience working with directors and casting agents to find the perfect face for my latest campaign, making headshots, key art and production stills is nothing more than completely natural for me.
For those of you I’ve worked with, you will know that I aspire to produce greatness for my clients, or die trying!
For those of you who do not yet know me, my name is Craig Ashley-Russell and if you’ll indulge me… I want to make you famous.