From interview [2011]

                

 THOMAS BURSTYN   CSC/NZCS

Born: 1954, Montréal, Québec, Canada, as Thomas C. Burstyn.

Career: Started at age 15 as an apprentice at the National Film Board of Canada under the mentorship of ph Denis Gillson.

Member of the CSC and the NZCS and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts [New Zealand].

Owns the prod company Cloud South Films. Married to Barbara Sumner, a New Zealand journalist. Lives on an organic farm in Hastings, Hawkes Bay region, New Zealand.

Appeared in the doc (12m) 'Are We Alone?' [2006, Max Schonenburg].

Awards: CSC Award [1986] & Cable ACE Award [1986] for 'The Hitchhiker'; 'Genie' Award nom [1988] for 'La grenouille et la baleine'; 'Genie' Award nom [1993] & CSC Award nom [1993] for 'The Lotus Eaters'; CSC Award nom [1993] for 'Liar, Liar'; CSC Award nom [1995] for 'Andre'; 'Genie' Award [1995] & CSC Award nom [1995] for 'Magic in the Water'; ASC Award nom [1998] for 'When Trumpets Fade'; CSC Award [2002] for 'La première fois'; 'Emmy' Award nom [2004-05] for 'The 4400' [pilot, part 1].

Website: Tom Burstyn & Cloud South Films


'The 4400': 'An astonishing 7.4 million American viewers watched the premiere episode of USA Network's sci-fi series 'The 4400' this past summer, a record for a basic cable premiere. 'The 4400' was a world first; the Thomson Viper HD Camera had never before been out in field production for episodic television.'

Thomas Burstyn: 'In my opinion the Viper qualitatively matches 35mm for television production with regard to latitude and sharpness. Certainly, the camera is head and shoulders above the Sony HDW-F900. The Viper has a delicacy of tone - a beautiful camera to work with.

Admittedly, the camera has obvious problems. First, the HD SDI cable marries the engineering station to the camera, creating logistical challenges. For example, in one scene we wanted a Steadicam "walk and talk" down a hall, transitioning to a 360-degree move as our characters reach the set to reveal the command center.

As a cinematographer, I do not want to have to break up a shot for this technical issue. Luckily, Bob Findley ['a' camera 1st AC] figured out a way we could work with Jim Van Dijk, the Steadicam operator, to hide the cable and get the shot. This is just one example because 'The 4400' was a two-camera shoot, sometimes three, and we shot with car rigs, cranes and helicopter mounts. With the car rig, you have to ask, "How do we stuff a huge Sony SR deck into the car and have the actor really drive?" In this case, we used a large battery, power conditioner, and inverter to power a 9" HD SDI monitor, waveform monitor, and the Sony SR deck, all of which we jammed into the trunk. There's always a solution.

The second major stumbling block has to do with the viewfinder. Camera operator Trig Singer put it simply when he said to me: "Tom, this camera makes it hard for me to appreciate the aesthetic of the image I'm composing, which curbs my creative drive." And Trig's right. With a 35mm camera, not only can you see the image beautifully, but you can see peripherally. In the current HD systems the operator can't tell if his picture is in focus, he can't see a microphone until it's too late and he's forced to look at a nasty black-and-white image for 12 hours. Obviously these are issues that must be rectified for the system to take hold.

Honestly, I find lighting much faster with High Def; the lighting process became more intuitive. In film, the old rule is expose for the shadows and light for the highlights. With HD, exposure is based on the highlights and you light the shadows. So now I light the set by eye, study the monitor, and then tweak. With film, I fiddle with my meters more and don't rely on my eye as much. If I think about it, with film I am too fastidious, forever trying to create that perfect negative, but with the Viper, I see the image so well and so quickly, it feels right and you move on. In my mind, a more intuitive course of action.

What is inevitable is that a High Definition system will overtake film, perhaps in a short span of time. Right now the Viper seems to be heading the pack. I know Dalsa/Clairmont, Arriflex and Panavision are all coming out with new cameras soon. An avalanche of new ideas. The motion picture camera and its attendant chemistry is a more romantic technology, but it's a 19th-century technology. As an acquisition medium, film is an ecologically unsound, highly polluting process. HD seems like an intelligent way to address this important issue.

Because of the small CCD chip, lens perspectives have altered. No longer can you make that 85mm romantic close-up with soft backgrounds that is such a cornerstone of our film language. You have to change your visual grammar to accommodate this. But if you want to do this in HD, the equivalent is a 40mm or 50mm lens and the background is in focus. So either you put the background further behind the actor to throw it out of focus or you go to a wide lens and shoot close, both of which are not exactly what we're used to.

Whatever we do, it won't look like 35mm film anymore. We need to move on and work up a new HD aesthetic. I think the new generation of cameras will all incorporate a 35mm-sized chip, so the perspective problem goes away.

So when you ask me about the future, to get into a new medium you have to embrace it. There seems to be a stigma attached to High Definition; people want to make it look more like 35mm. If you want 35mm, then shoot 35mm. In my opinion, you have to look for new ways. I found the Viper experience very exciting and intriguing.' [From article by Joshua Gollish on the CSC website, October 2004.]



 FILMS

1975

Canoe extraordinaire [prod: Souren Hadjian] ?; doc/?m; prod Université Concordia

1975

Puberty/Puberté [Alanis Obomsawin & Keith Packwood] b&w-c; 2-part doc/27m; cph: Philip Hersee

1976

If Brains Were Dynamite [You Wouldn't Have Enough to Blow Your Nose] - Mark Prent [Thomas Burstyn, John Laing, Julie Wildman & Peter Bors] 16mm/c; doc/28m

1978

Flash William [John Laing & Thom Burstyn] c; doc/20m; prod NFB of Canada

1979

Ski d'fond [Barbara Dunphy] ?; doc/?m

1980

You Could Save a Life [Mary Armstrong] ?; doc/10m

1981

The Head On Film [Eric Young] c; doc/29m

1981

The Lost Tribe [John Laing] c

1984

Harvest of Despair - The 1932-33 Man-made Famine in Ukraine [Slavko Nowytski] b&w-c; doc/55m; addph: S. Nowytski, Yuri Denysenko, Gary Donley, Thomas Ramsay, a.o.; for the Ukrainian Famine Research Committee

1984

Heavenly Bodies [Lawrence Dane] c

1985

Mr. Wrong/Dark of the Night [Gaylene Preston] 16mm-35bu/c

1985

Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird [Ken Kwapis] c; 2u sfx ph; ph: Curtis Clark

1986

Native Son [Jerrold Freedman] c; addph (finished film): Shelly Johnson

1987

The Tadpole and the Whale/La grenouille et la baleine [Jean-Claude Lord] c; Florida ph: Michel Brault; 'Tales for All #6'

1988

Cheetah [Jeff Blyth] c

1988

Cold Front [Paul Bnarbic] c

1990

Wisecracks [Gail Singer] b&w-c; doc (all-female stand-up comedy)/93m; co-addph; ph: Zoe Dirse (UK) & Robert Fresco (Canada)

1990

Toy Soldiers [Daniel Petrie Jr.] c; 2uc: Rexford Metz

1992

The Lotus Eaters [Paul Shapiro] c

1993

Arctic Blue [Peter Masterson] c

1993

Exquisite Tenderness/The Surgeon [Carl Schenkel] p/c

1994

Andre [George Miller] Clairmont-Scope/c; uwph: Pauline Heaton

1994

Magic in the Water/Glenorky [Rick Stevenson] c

1994

Crying Freeman [Christophe Gans] c; 2uc: William Gereghty; insert ph: Tony Westman & Russ Brandt

1996

City of Industry [John Irvin] c

1998

Where the Money Is [Marek Kanievska] c; 2uc: John S. Bartley

1998

Spooky House [William Sachs] c; 2uc: Dominique Ricard

2000

Camouflage [James Keach] c/V; or ph Glen MacPherson

2001

La première fois [Claude Paré] c; short/12m

2001

Kart Racer [Stuart Gillard] c; 2uc: Paul Birkett; uwph: Pauline Heaton

2002

Timeline [Richard Donner] s35/c; 2uc; ph: Caleb Deschanel

2002

Lost Junction [Peter Masterson] c

2002

The Boys from County Clare/The Boys & Girl from County Clare/The Great Ceili War [John Irvin] s35/c

2005

Population 436 [Michelle Maxwell MacLaren] HD/c; 2uc: Paul Suderman & Sylvaine Dufaux

2006

Oops, Ups & Downs: The Murder Mystery of Humpty Dumpty [Sheree Ali] announced; status unknown

2007

How to Save the World - One Man, One Cow, One Planet [Barbara & Thomas Burstyn] c; doc/56m (tv-version) & 99m; + co-prod

2008

Hollenbeck [Joe Heine] announced; status unknown

2009

This Way of Life [Thomas Burstyn] HD/c; doc/84m; addph: Dan Browne; filmed over a 4-year period

2009

Crimes of Opportunity [Peter Coyote] in development since 1996; status unknown

With dir Rosemary Riddell - "The Insatiable Moon"

2009

The Insatiable Moon [Rosemary Riddell] HD (Sony PMW-EX1)/c; 2uc: David Cawley; + co-assoc prod

2011

Strongman - The Tragedy [Paula McTaggart & (dram seq) Gaylene Preston] HD/c; doc + dram seq/73m; ph dram seq; doc ph: Chris Brokensha

2012

3 Mile Limit [Craig Newland] pre-production; announced as ph, but film was ph in November by D.J. Stipsen; a concept trailer ('Radio Pirates') was prod in 2008 with doph David Gribble


 TELEVISION

1981

[Jack London's] Tales of the Klondike/Jack London's Klondike Tales [various] 6-part series

1981

Rock Mysteries [Peter Alves] 2-part doc/120m

1981

Second City Television/SC Television Network/SCTV Network 90/SCTV Network/SCTV Channel [ep #97 'The Great White North Palace' dir by Jim Drake (JD) & #98 'Pre-Teen World Telethon' dir by JD] 135-part series, 1976-1984; Series 4, Cycle 3, 1982 (9 ep)

1984

The Hitchhiker/Deadly Nightmares [ep #8 'Petty Thieves' dir by Christopher Leitch (CL), #9 'Videodate' dir by Richard Rothstein, #11 'Man at the Window' dir by CL & #13 'Murderous Feelings' dir by Mai Zetterling] 85-part series, 1983-91; 1st season, 1983, 1984 & 1985 (13 ep)

1985

The Ray Bradbury Theater [ep #1 'Marionettes, Inc.' dir by Paul Lynch & #3 'The Crowd' dir by Ralph L. Thomas] 65-part series, 1985-86, 1988-90 & 1992

1985

Cowboys' Claim [Miranda Smith] doc/28m/16mm; addph: Nadine Humenick, C.L. Stewart & Gary Dymmek

1985

The Hitchhiker/Deadly Nightmares [ep #15 'Out of the Night' dir by Brian Grant (BG), #17 'W.G.O.D.' dir by Mike Hodges, #18 'Man's Best Friend' dir by Phillip Noyce, #20 'O.D. Feelin'' dir by Richard Rothstein, #22 'The Curse' dir by Phillip Noyce, #23 'True Believer' dir by Carl Schenkel & #26 'One Last Prayer' dir by BG] 2nd season, 1985-86; see 1984

1986

The Hitchhiker/Deadly Nightmares [ep #27 'Perfect Order' dir by Daniel Vigne, #30 'Why Are You Here?' dir by Chris Thomson, #31 'Homebodies' dir by Carl Schenkel, #32 'Doctor's Orders' dir by Reynaldo Villalobos, #34 'In the Name of Love' dir by John Laing (JL), #36 'Joker' dir by Colin Bucksey & #37 'Best Shot' dir by JL] 3rd season, 1987; see 1984

1987

Ford - The Man and The Machine [Allan Eastman] 2-part tvm

1987

Foxfire [Jud Taylor] tvm; ep #268 'Hallmark Hall of Fame'-series

1987

Broken Vows [Jud Taylor] tvm

1988

Promised a Miracle [Stephen Gyllenhaal] tvm

1988

Liberace [William Hale] tvm

1988

Leap of Faith/Question of Faith [Stephen Gyllenhaal] tvm

1989

Night Walk [Jerrold Freedman] tvm

1989

The Edge [ep #1 'Black Pudding' dir by Carl Schenkel & #2 'Indian Poker' dir by Luis Mandoki] 3-part series; other ph: Bernd Heinl; for HBO-tv

1989

Booker [, P.I.] [10 ep dir by various] 22-part series, 1989-90; other ph (12 ep): John S. Bartley

1990

The Dreamer of Oz [Jack Bender] tvm/b&w-c; vfx superv: Sam Nicholson; ep NBC Monday Night at the Movies

1990

She Stood Alone [Jack Gold] tvm

1990

[Kurt Vonnegut's] Welcome to the Monkey House [Paul Shapiro (seg 'Next Door'), Gilbert Shilton (seg 'The Euphio Question') & Allan King (seg 'All the King's Men')] pilot, 1991; followed by 4-part series 'Monkey House', 1992-93

1991

Empire City [Mark Rosner] tvm

1991

The Perfect Tribute [Jack Bender] tvm

1991

Silent Motive [Lee Philips] tvm

1991

Blind Man’s Bluff [James Quinn] tvm

1991

Criminal Behavior [Michael Miller] tvm

1992

Millennium: Tribal Wisdom and the Modern World [ep #1 'The Shock of the Other' & #2 'Strange Relations' dir by ?] 10-part doc series; other ph: Vic Sarin & Michael Boland

1992

Liar Liar [: Between Father and Daughter]/Daddy's Little Secret [Jorge Montesi] tvm

1992

Overkill [: The Aileen Wuornos Story] [Peter Levin] tvm

1992

A Child Lost Forever [: The Jerry Sherwood Story] [Claudia Weill] tvm

1993

Hush Little Baby/Mother of Pearl/The Stepmother [Jorge Montesi] tvm

1995

Crazy Horse [John Irvin] tvm

1995

[John Grisham's] The Client [pilot dir by Paul Shapiro] 21-part series, 1995-96; other ph: Lowell Peterson

1995

Deadly Love [Jorge Montesi] tvm

1995

Ebbie [George Kaczender] tvm

1995

Seduced by Madness [: The Diane Borchardt Story]/Murderous Passion [John Patterson] 2-part tvm

1996

Dead Silence [Daniel Petrie, Jr.] tvm

1997

Lost Treasure of Dos Santos [Jorge Montesi] tvm

1997

When Trumpets Fade/Hamburger Hill 2 [John Irvin] tvm

1997

Peter Benchley's Creature [Stuart Gillard] 2-part tvm; uwph (St. Lucia): Jordan Klein

1997

Four Corners [Kevin Dowling] 4-part series; addph; ph: Lowell Peterson

1997

The Magnificent Seven [various] 23-part (4 unaired) series; other ph: Jack Conroy (pilot), Gordon Lonsdale, William Wages & Brian Sullivan

1998

The Girl Next Door [David Greene] tvm

1998

A Marriage of Convenience [James Keach] tvm

1998

Cupid [pilot dir by Scott Winant] 15-part series, 1998-99; other ph: Robert Hudecek

1999

Deadlocked [Michael W. Watkins] tvm

1999

Miracle on the Mountain: The Kincaid Family Story/Winter's Tale [Michael Switzer] tvm

2000

Race Against Time [Geoff Murphy] tvm

2000

First Target [Armand Mastroianni] tvm; 2uc: Randal Platt

2000

All Souls [pilot dir by Stuart Gillard + 5 ep dir by S. Gillard & Rick Rosenthal] 6-part series, 2001

2001

Walking Shadow [Po-Chih Leong] tvm

2001

Within These Walls/Their Last Chance [Mike Robe] tvm

2002

The Funkhousers [Frank Oz] pilot; for ABC-tv

2003

Full-Court Miracle/Lamont's Maccabees [Stuart Gillard] tvm

2003

Going to the Mat [Stuart Gillard] tvm

2004

The 4400 [2-hour pilot dir by Yves Simoneau, ep #2 'The New & Improved Carl Morrissey' dir by Helen Shaver, #3 'Becoming' dir by David Straiton, #4 'Trial By Fire' dir by Nick Gomez & #5 'White Light' dir by Tim Hunter] series/HD (Thomson Viper), 2004-present; 1st season, 2004 (5 ep)

2005

Terminal City [Rachel Talalay, Lynne Stopkewich, Kari Skogland & Stephen Surjik] 10-part series/HD (Thomson Viper)

2005

Final Days of Planet Earth [Robert Lieberman] 3-hour tvm/HD & 2-part tvm (in UK)

2005

Sex, Love & Secrets [various] 8-part (4 unaired) series/HD; other ph: Crescenzo Notarile

2006

Son of the Dragon [David Wu] 2-part tvm; 2uc: Kam Shing & Jimmy Wong

2006

Marco Polo [Kevin Connor] 2-part tvm; 2uc: Jimmy Wong; 'Son of the Dragon' & 'Marco Polo' were filmed back-to-back during the Spring and Summer in China & Mongolia

With actress Kathleen Robertson - "Tin Man"

2007

Tin Man [Nick Willing] 3-part miniseries/HD (ARRI D-20)

2008

The Last Templar [Paolo Barzman] 2-part tvm/HD; sfx ph: Mario Janelle

2009

Riverworld [Stuart Gillard] 2-part tvm; hph: A.J. Vesak; uwph: Pauline Heaton; for Syfy-tv

2010

Avalon High [Stuart Gillard] tvm; for Disney Channel

2012

Girl vs. Monster [Stuart Gillard] tvm/HD; for Disney Channel

2012

Defiance [11 ep dir by various] series/RED Epic, 2013-present; 1st season (13 ep), 2013; other ph (2-part pilot): Attila Szalay


 MISCELLANEOUS

1972

The Huntsman [Douglas Jackson; short] prod asst; ph: Denis Gillson


 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1976

If Brains Were Dynamite [You Wouldn't Have Enough to Blow Your Nose] - Mark Prent [co-dir; doc; + ph] see Films

1978

Flash William [co-dir; doc; + ph] see Films

2007

How to Save the World - One Man, One Cow, One Planet [doc; + co-prod/ph] see Films

2007

Divine Water [doc] in production (2007-present); a funding trailer (8m) was edited in October 2008; prod for the Healing Water Institute

2009

This Way of Life [doc; + ph] see Films

2012

Land of the Free, Except for Me [feature] pre-production (as of June 2012, funding and casting is still ongoing); ph: Steven Fierberg