John Seale


Director Of Photography

About

Birth Place
Warwick, Queensland, AU
Born
October 05, 1942

Biography

Often associated with the work of Peter Weir, both as a camera operator and director of photography, John Seale first earned his reputation as one of Australia's leading cinematographers before garnering international attention as one of the world's best directors of photography. His reputation is based on his striking feel for textures and colors of nature, as evidenced by such films as...

Family & Companions

Louise Lee Mutton
Wife
Married in 1967.

Biography

Often associated with the work of Peter Weir, both as a camera operator and director of photography, John Seale first earned his reputation as one of Australia's leading cinematographers before garnering international attention as one of the world's best directors of photography. His reputation is based on his striking feel for textures and colors of nature, as evidenced by such films as Peter Weir's "Witness" (1985), for which he was nominated for the Best Cinematography Academy Award and Anthony Minghella's "The English Patient" (1996), which earned him the Oscar. The former possessed striking contrasts between the big city of Philadelphia and the fields of the Amish Country, yet each created a full-bodied environment. For the latter, Seale had to accomplish the photography on three levels: the desert in which Ralph Fiennes and Kristin Scott Thomas have their romance, the war-torn zone of Italy, which required darker, bluer lighting, and the re-emergence of life within Juliette Binoche, which had to be gradually worked into the palette. (In 1988, he earned a third Oscar nod for his clean work on Barry Levinson's "Rain Man.")

Seale had wanted to make "National Geographic" documentaries, but began his career as a camera assistant in the film department of the Australian Broadcasting Company in 1962. By the 70s, he was freelancing as a camera operator and first crossed paths with Peter Weir when he was hired as camera operator by cinematographer Russell Boyd on "Picnic at Hanging Rock" (1975). Seale went on to perform similar duties on Weir's "The Last Wave" (1977) and "Gallipoli" (1981). By then, he had graduated to director of photography, earning those stripes on the children's film "Deathcheaters" (1976). It was not until after working on several other Australian features, though, that Seale was tapped by Weir to shoot "Witness," which brought both to the USA. The cinematographer's flair for capturing the lyric qualities of the outdoors was tested and he certainly proved himself. Not only were the sequences of Amish farmers in their fields like movements on a warm quilt, but the barn-raising sequences possessed near poetic qualities. At the same time, when the evildoer is suffocated by corn cascading into a silo, the audience felt the noose of the grim reaper while simultaneously admiring with awe the majestic power of the corn.

Seale remained in the USA and was hired by Randa Haines for "Children of a Lesser God" (1986). He reteamed with Weir and star Harrison Ford for "The Mosquito Coast" (1987), again capturing the natural environment in such as way as to make it a character in its own right. The same was true of "Gorilla in the Mist" (1988), the cinematography helped explain why Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver) fell in love with the highland jungle. But it was Weir's "Dead Poets Society" (1989) where he displayed some of the best photography the screen has ever known. The idyllic, cloistered and protective world of the prep school boys was seen not just in the enveloping safety of the grounds, but in wonderful sequences in which Josh Charles was biking through field as birds fly away from his path. Another key sequence depicted the youths' initial decision to enter the woods to form the titular organization. Dressed in black school sweats, they run into the mist of night and disappear, as if leaving the known world for a more ethereal one from which one cannot return unchanged. Seale went on serve as director of photography for Haines' "The Doctor" (1991) and George Miller's "Lorenzo's Oil" (1992). He shot two films for Rob Reiner, "The American President" (1995) and "The Ghosts of Mississippi" (1996).

Seale has also directed one film, "Till There Was You" (1990), a visually stunning, but ineffectual thriller in which Mark Harmon's saxophone player is called to aid his brother in the South Seas. The cinematographer has also occasionally worked in TV, most often in programs shown on PBS, like two 1987 episodes of "Trying Times," "Drive, She Said" and "Get a Job," and the Australian-made "Top Kid" (1987), which aired on "Wonderworks."

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Till There Was You (1991)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)
Himself
Cinematographer Style (2006)

Cinematography (Feature Film)

The Tourist (2010)
Director Of Photography
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Director Of Photography
I Love You, Beth Cooper (2009)
Assistant Camera
Poseidon (2006)
Director Of Photography
Spanglish (2004)
Director Of Photography
Dreamcatcher (2003)
Director Of Photography
Trapped (2002)
Assistant Camera
Texas Rangers (2001)
Assistant Camera Operator
Shadow Warriors II: Assault On Death Mountain (2001)
Camera Assistant
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Director Of Photography
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Camera
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Director Of Photography
At First Sight (1999)
Director Of Photography
City of Angels (1998)
Director Of Photography
Killers in the House (1998)
Camera Assistant
The English Patient (1996)
1st Camera Operator
The English Patient (1996)
Director Of Photography
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
Director Of Photography
Beyond Rangoon (1995)
Director Of Photography
Beyond Rangoon (1995)
Camera Operator
The American President (1995)
Director Of Photography
The Paper (1994)
Director Of Photography
The Firm (1993)
Director Of Photography
Impolite (1993)
2nd Assistant Camera
Lorenzo's Oil (1992)
Director Of Photography
The Doctor (1991)
Director Of Photography
Sky High (1990)
Assistant Camera Operator
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Director Of Photography
Friday the 13th Part VIII: Jason Takes Manhattan (1989)
Assistant Camera Operator
Rain Man (1988)
Director Of Photography
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Director Of Photography
Stakeout (1987)
Director Of Photography
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Director Of Photography
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Camera Operator
The Hitcher (1986)
Director Of Photography
Children Of A Lesser God (1986)
Director Of Photography
The Empty Beach (1985)
Director Of Photography
Witness (1985)
Director Of Photography
The Empty Beach (1985)
Camera Operator
Silver City (1984)
Director Of Photography
Careful, He Might Hear You (1983)
Director Of Photography
BMX Bandits (1983)
Director Of Photography
By Design (1982)
Director Of Photography
Ginger Meggs (1982)
Director Of Photography
Goodbye Paradise (1982)
Director Of Photography
The Year of Living Dangerously (1982)
Director Of Photography 2nd Unit (2nd Unit)
Doctors and Nurses (1981)
Director Of Photography
Gallipoli (1981)
Camera Operator
The Survivor (1981)
Director Of Photography
Horror Movie (1981)
Director Of Photography
Fighting Back (1981)
Director Of Photography
Goose Flesh (1981)
Director Of Photography
Fatty Finn (1980)
Director Of Photography
Fatty Finn (1980)
Camera Operator
Stunt Rock (1980)
Camera Operator
The Odd Angry Shot (1979)
Camera Operator
The Irishman (1978)
Camera Operator
Deathcheaters (1976)
Director Of Photography
Alvin Purple (1974)
Director Of Photography

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

The Core (2003)
Photography
Rat Race (2001)
Photography

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

The Tourist (2010)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Tourist (2010)
Other
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (2010)
Other
Not Quite Hollywood: The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation (2008)
Other
Poseidon (2006)
Dp/Cinematographer
Dreamcatcher (2003)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Perfect Storm (2000)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)
Dp/Cinematographer
At First Sight (1999)
Dp/Cinematographer
City of Angels (1998)
Dp/Cinematographer
Ghosts of Mississippi (1996)
Other
The English Patient (1996)
Dp/Cinematographer
The American President (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Paper (1994)
Other
The Firm (1993)
Dp/Cinematographer
Dead Poets Society (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
Gorillas in the Mist (1988)
Dp/Cinematographer
Stakeout (1987)
Dp/Cinematographer
Children Of A Lesser God (1986)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Mosquito Coast (1986)
Dp/Cinematographer
Witness (1985)
Dp/Cinematographer
By Design (1982)
Dp/Cinematographer

Cinematography (Special)

Drive, She Said (1987)
Director Of Photography
Top Kid (1987)
Director Of Photography
Get a Job (1987)
Director Of Photography

Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)

Alice (2010)
Camera Assistant
City Boy (1994)
Assistant Camera Operator

Life Events

1962

Was camera assistant in film department of Australian Broadcasting Company

1975

First worked with director Peter Weir as camera operator on "Picnic at Hanging Rock"

1976

Had first credit as cinematographer, "Deathcheaters"

1982

Did second unit cinematography on Weir's "The Year of Living Dangerously"

1985

Received first Oscar nomination for "Witness", directed by Weir

1986

First film with Randa Haines, "Children of a Lesser God"

1988

Received second Oscar nomination for "Rain Man"

1990

Directed first feature, "Till There Was You"

1995

First collaboration with Rob Reiner, "The American President"

1996

Had banner year as director of photography on both "The Ghosts of Mississippi" (directed by Reiner) and "The English Patient" (directed by Anthony Minghella)

1998

Served as cinematographer on "City of Angels", a loose remake of Wim Wenders' "Wings of Desire"

1999

Reteamed with Minghella on "The Talented Mr. Ripley"

2000

Served as director of photography on "The Perfect Storm"

2001

Was cinematographer on "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone"

2003

Served as cinematographer for the film "Dreamcatcher"

2003

Teamed again with director Anthony Minghella for the film "Cold Mountain," received an Academy Award nomination for Achievement in Cinematography

Videos

Movie Clip

Rain Man (1988) - I've Never Dealt With These Lamborghinis Dealer Charlie (Tom Cruise) and his Lamborghinis are introduced in the title sequence and first scene from director Barry Levinson's Best Picture Academy Award-winner Rain Man, 1988.
Rain Man (1988) - There's Four Left In The Box Autistic Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) and annoyed brother Charlie (Tom Cruise), at odds with the doctor from whom he's sort-of kidnapped the patient, have a strange encounter with waitress Sally (Bonnie Hunt) in director Barry Levinson's Diner, 1988.
Rain Man (1988) - I Don't Have a Brother Car seller and general hustler Charlie (Tom Cruise) is trying to get his deceased father's money from Dr. Bruner (Gerald R. Molen) when psychiatric patient Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) appears in Barry Levinson's Rain Man, 1988.
Rain Man (1988) - Don't Walk Shooting in downtown Guthrie, Oklahoma, Charlie (Tom Cruise) is exasperated with his newly-discovered autistic-savant brother Raymond (Dustin Hoffman) to whom his estranged father left his estate, so, en route to California to dispute the will, decides to look for a psychiatrist, in Barry Levinson’s Rain Man, 1988.
Gorillas In The Mist (1988) - I'm Just No Damn Good At This Early 1967, weeks into her first effort in the Congo, under-trained primatologist Dian Fossey (Sigourney Weaver), with loyal guide Sembarage (John Omirah Miluwi) have a breakthrough, director Michael Apted shooting on location in Rwanda, in Gorillas In The Mist, 1988.
Dead Poets Society (1989) - As Tough As They Say After the churchy opening of the prep school term, cohorts begin their greetings, Neil, Todd, Cameron, Charlie, Meeks and Knox (Robert Sean Leonard, Ethan Hawke, Dylan Kussman, Gale Hansen, Allelon Ruggiero, Josh Charles), plus Neil's father (Kurtwood Smith), in Dead Poets Society, 1987.
Dead Poets Society (1989) - Seize The Day Having abandoned the classroom, Keating (Robin Williams) unveils his approach to poetry for Meeks, Pitts, Neil, Charlie, Todd (Allelon Ruggerio, James Waterson, Robert Sean Leonard, Gale Hansen, Ethan Hawke) and friends, a famous scene from Peter Weir's Dead Poets Society, 1989.
Dead Poets Society (1989) - Who's In? The prep school gang led by Neil (Robert Sean Leonard) gets background on their eclectic new English teacher Keating (Robin Williams), who reveals the truth to Knox, Charlie, Meeks, Todd (Josh Charles, Gale Hansen, Allelon Ruggiero, Ethan Hawke) et al, in Peter Weir's Dead Poet's Society, 1989.

Trailer

Family

Eric Clement Seale
Father
Marjorie Lyndon Pool Seale
Mother
Anthony Seale
Son
Derin Seale
Son
Brianna Lee Seale
Daughter

Companions

Louise Lee Mutton
Wife
Married in 1967.

Bibliography