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  • Writer's pictureRubber Monkey

Interview with Hayden Griffith from Lost Compass Studio

Lost Compass Studio

Tell us a little bit about yourself and what you & your team do at the Lost Compass studio.

I launched LC in the middle of last year after working under other companies. I wanted to create something that was able to focus more on end to end doco productions in minority film-making niches. I love the power of film and its ability to communicate important messages. It gives me a feeling of responsibility to work on and share these stories from the corner of the room and so LC was born from this. I still work as a tech/cinematographer on other projects but LC in its essence is an end-end studio and we have a few short films and docos in post at the moment.

You and your team not only do amazing nature and adventure cinematography

work, but also have biology & zoology degrees! It sounds like you have some

incredibly smart and talented people at LC. Tell us a bit more about how you got

into cinematography & what inspired you to combine your science degrees &

cinematography work together.

The film and science parallels were a decision made in the very early days. There were a few factors but the primary one was wanting to make myself useful on science expeditions. I figured if I could speak the language of the scientists, be handy with cameras and also lean on my experience in backcountry environments then maybe one day I’ll get to work on great things in great spaces. It took 8 years to get my first natural history project shooting winter landscapes for the Netflix doco Kangaroo Valley…patience is key I guess!

Most of the LC team are self-taught in the film industry and we’ve all just put our heads down and learnt as much as we could. The first few years for me were really tough and I don’t mean that lightly. I was working two day jobs, studying the Zoology degree, paying off loans for camera investments and scratching for more meaningful film work on the side. My family couldn’t understand what I was doing and to be honest I had no real idea either.

The team that we draw on for projects are also mostly self taught. They’re incredibly good at what they do and also just gentle and beautiful people in themselves. Interestingly, one of the key business reasons I started LC is because after 8 years I finally felt like I had a solid roster of professionals that I could recruit for important projects.

Lost Compass Studio

 What are some of your favourite projects that you’ve worked on so far?

LC as a studio is pretty young so there’s not many end-end projects to share just yet. We currently have a short film about a founder of an Australian outdoor brand Mont in post aswell as a project from a Learning on Country program in Arnhem Land, NT that was filmed at the end of last year and looking forward to sharing those in the coming months.

Other than that I’ve personally crewed on a Nat Geo shoot in Turkey, just back from a natural history shoot in Galapagos and we also crewed with Crosswave Media to work on the opening sequence for Ep 1 on Planet Earth 3 last year.

It looks like you get to go on some awesome adventures with your crew, what has been your favourite place in the world to shoot and why?

That’s a hard one to answer! I feel like travel and work is only as good as the company you’re in and the project you’re working on. Honestly I couldn’t pick a favorite destination but the recent trip to Arnhem was a special one. Working with First Nations on such precious country and feeling completely welcomed whilst also working alongside my friends who live up there with their newborn bub was definitely one for the books. I feel as though I’m softening as I age and in many ways it’s less about where you are and more about who you’re with and the connections you’re making. Where that takes our work, who knows!

Lost Compass Studio

In terms of production equipment - what are your top 5 must-haves whilst travelling?

I rarely head to work without:

  • Hollyland Comms (comms are a must have!)

  • Bag of grip items (Smallrig arms/clamps/mounts etc)

  • Edelkrone Pro Slider Plus (so small you can’t not bring it)

  • Cinesaddle (which is funny because I continue to borrow a mates and yet to buy one)

I can imagine that you get to meet some really interesting people while you're working & traveling around everywhere - is there a person in particular that has inspired you along the way that has now made a big influence on your life and/or the work that you create today?

Lost Compass Studio

This one is interesting. Working in the doco world is so, so special. You go into these places and meet these people that are often outstanding in some way and they just open their lives to you in such a whole and beautiful way, often at times they open more to you than they have to their families or partners.

Everytime I go to work I’m exposed to this part of the world and this part of life I would have never thought of visiting or exploring in my own time. Your views are constantly challenged, your identity and perspectives are constantly flexing. You’re forced to live outside of your own bubble and I’d say that’s my overall favorite experience of work. It’s this strange sacred space that can also be really sensitive and volatile at times.

I would also say that I’m inspired by the friends and crew that I’m lucky to have met along the way. They keep me energized, they keep me human and I love that.

Do you have any advice for beginners who want to start their own nature based portfolio?

Best advice, think long and deep about the decision to head down this path. Really explore if it’s something that will provide you purpose and fulfillment and once you understand this then put your head down and don’t give up.

I’m a big believer that if you deeply want something in life you’re already 10 steps ahead of the rest. Your bucket of energy is going to be much bigger than the ones that are doing it for external reasons and just naturally you’ll rise to where you need to be.

On a technical level, research other people's work, find what you like to work with and try not to spread yourself too thinly (speaking from experience!). My ‘in’ was drones, they came into the industry just as I started and has been this specialization that's gotten me onto alot of projects in my career. Yours could be something totally different, but just try and make sure you know something well and know the other things well enough! Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, don’t be afraid to play, don’t be afraid to swim in a different direction to the rest of us.

Hayden Griffith is a cinematographer, zoologist and founder of Lost Compass Studio based in NSW. Check out more of their work here!


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