Over his 30 years in production, Alan Lennox has worked in many capacities leading up to camera operator and then specializing in Steadicam. He is currently an active member of the Society of Camera Operators, IATSE 667Toronto, IATSE 669 Vancouver and other industry associations. Alan was one of the first operators to adopt the ARRI Trinity -- the first hybrid camera stabilizer that combines classic mechanical stabilization with advanced active electronic stabilization. He then joined ARRI as the Camera Stabilization Systems (CSS) Specialist for the Americas. Currently, Alan shares his time between supporting CSS sales, demonstrations and tradeshows and also leads ARRI’s CSS workshops for the ARRI Academy for Maxima, Artemis, Trinity and Stabilized Remote Heads.
What is it about the filmmaking industry that got you interested in it?
Alan Lennox: I started with an interest in storytelling. It didn’t matter if it was film, television or theater production. I liked to hear stories and different perspectives. In my final high school years, I worked in theater and theater stagecraft and soon realized that was a tough way to make a living. Too tough. I was drawn to television and live sports production because I thought that camera operators had the coolest jobs in the world. I attended Algonquin College in Ottawa for Broadcasting and Journalism and excelled in the technical aspects of production. The energy and immediacy of live production still thrills me and I love being close to the action (and not having to pay for a ticket). I also really enjoy working with narrative production teams to craft films and TV shows both on a creative level and by applying technology to tell a story. In the end, it is all about the love of a good story.
What was your favorite project?
Alan Lennox: There have been so many it is hard to pick. It’s almost easier to pick my least favorites because there are fewer of those (you know who you are). I always learned something and enjoyed 95% of the shows I was fortunate to work on. I enjoyed working with Garrett Brown ASC during the early development of Skycam. Olympic-size pressures, applying new technology, working with great people and making history is very rewarding. I was very fortunate when given the opportunity to work as a stereographer and technical producer on the first live 3D broadcast of Carnivale in Rio de Janeiro. We successfully broadcast live 3D for days over cable and satellite systems. Again, new technology, live event pressures and making history. As a sports fan, I really enjoyed the World Series, Stanley Cup Playoffs and shooting “The Mario Lemieux Story,” a 90-minute documentary where I worked with the Penguins for months. In narrative, I enjoyed most projects, but working for David Moxness ASC, CSC and Rene O’Hashi ASC, CSC in lighting, before I switched to the camera department, were all stand out projects. Mainly because I learned every single day. As I said, too many great projects to choose from, but the common denominators are great people, demanding projects and new technology to keep a person engaged and learning.
What is your role at ARRI?
Alan Lennox: As a Camera Stabilization Specialist, I assist in the sales efforts for the Camera Support Systems and our specialty tools. The CSS division includes the artemis stabilizer, MAXIMA Gimbal, TRINITY Stabilizer system and the SRH-3 Stabilized remote head. In addition to sales support, I lead the ARRI Academy CSS workshops teaching new and experienced operators the new technology and applications for the ARRI CSS systems. The company’s mission is to support filmmakers by making the best tools possible. That now goes beyond lights, cameras, and lenses. It is also my role to increase awareness of these products in the market.
What excites you about working at ARRI?
Alan Lennox: Working at ARRI has been very rewarding and challenging. The pace, demands, and challenges are much like working on set. I have in the past year-and-a-half met and assisted filmmakers from all over the world. This is very satisfying for me as I show the new tools to existing operators and DPs and also help new operators unlock the creative potential and palette of the new technology we are developing.
ARRI is a large global company filled with great people, amazing talents and bonafide geniuses. In my role, I am grateful for the opportunity to help grow the new CSS division. ARRI’s commitment to developing the best tools and new technology for filmmakers is very inspiring. Every single person in the company works hard and towards the same goal, developing the best tools for filmmakers and, in the end, giving us great stories.
Do you have any advice for young filmmakers?
Alan Lennox: First, learn to make coffee and tea and spot when your department head needs one and go get it for them! Second, learn and get better every day. I am a big believer in formal basic education in film, television, literature or theater, etc. Learn through work, professional associations, reading, ARRI Academy to name a few. It helps to learn other skills as well. I have found that the best cameramen and women are fluent in editing practices; great grips understand lighting and camera motion, etc. As my Mother used to say in a heavy Scottish Brogue, “Nothing learned is wasted.” Learning helps you to be more flexible and ultimately more useful and employable as a freelancer. I would also say once you find what you like, be able to do what others cannot by specializing. This specialty skill can be as a Steadicam operator, remote head tech, Maya specialist or barista -- but do what you do better to separate yourself.