Biography (from NZ on Screen)
After training as a film cameraman at state broadcaster the NZBC and learning his early craft shooting News, Current Affairs and Special Interest programmes on 16m film, David Paul continued his cinematic apprenticeship in suburban houses and emergency wards, helping film reality shows like Hospital, Home Front and Location Location Location. At the same time he had already begun shooting the first of more than 30 documentaries, including 1996 Maori land claim doco One Land Two Peoples.
Paul’s doco work includes shooting images of ballet (Black on Red and 50 Years on their Toes), architect Ian Athfield (Architect of Dreams) and meat pies (the “beautifully filmed” Who Ate All the Pies). In 2004 he travelled to Tokelau with brothers Jason and Kris Fa’afoi for acclaimed return home documentary Long Lost Sons. The programme won Paul a nomination for his camerawork at the 2005 NZ Screen Awards.
By now Paul had begun branching out into other genres. He had already helped out on camera duties on sci-fi hit The Tribe and comedy series Love Bites, and in 2004 he was asked to be director of photography for multiple seasons of fast-turnaround sketch show Facelift. The job was made more challenging by the fact that many of the cast acted under prosthetic make-up.
Paul went on to work as director of photography on episodes of the innovative and stylish drama series The Insiders Guide to Happiness. The following year he took on the lion’s share of D.O.P. duties for prequel show The Insiders Guide to Love, before adding a third ensemble drama from the Gibson Group stable to his CV: The Hothouse. The trio of dramas would result in three best camera nominations at the Qantas TV Awards.
Paul had not forsaken documentary entirely. Immigration series Here to Stay took him around the world, while award-winning Gaylene Preston doco The Time of Our Lives saw him travelling to England, alongside 32 war veterans. Undercover, a three-part examination of the world of undercover policemen, would again take him within inches of the winner’s podium at the Qantas TV awards.
By 2008 Paul was expanding into feature-length projects. He shot images for the second unit on Preston’s Home by Christmas, and Show of Hands.
In 2009 he finally scored his first cinematography award – as director of photography on tele-movie Until Proven Innocent. The film was based on the true story of David Dougherty, imprisoned and later pardoned for the rape of an 11-year-old child.
Paul followed it with period romance Tangiwai – A Love Story, and Springbok tour tale Rage. Again he received Best Cinematography nominations for both tele-movies, winning for Tangiwai.
Paul’s first director of photography credit on a feature film is family comedy Kiwi Flyer, due for local release in September 2012. The film revolves around a boy who sets out to win the Nelson trolley derby, in memory of his late father. Paul followed it by shooting conspiracy thriller feature film The Cure and tv teen series Girl Versus Boy; the latter project reunited him with the directors (Thomas Robins and David Stubbs) behind Emmy winning net series Reservoir Hill for which Paul also received a Best Cinematography nomination.
Having earlier made a doco on Margaret Mahy, Paul’s television work includes the distinctively earth-toned palette of fantasy drama Kaitangata Twitch, based on the Mahy novel. Directed by Yvonne Mackay, the series premiered on Māori Television in 2010, and went on to win many awards. More awards followed in 2011 for Paul’s work on The Banker, the Escorts, and the $18 Million, an Inside New Zealand documentary which unravels the story of bank fraudster Stephen Versalko.
Paul has also taken on a very different role: as presenter of Mackay-directed doco Painting with Light – Brian Brake Rediscovered. Paul took viewers through some of the ground-breaking methods used to achieve Brake’s images.
2013 started with Paul again joining Peter Burger ( Director-UPI) Lippy Pictures ( Producers-UPI) to lens their latest TV feature film, FP1 (Field Punishment #1) , the WW1 story of Archie Baxter and his Conscientious Objector companions and then onto 2nd Unit dop for the docu-drama Nancy Wake ( WW2 spy “the white mouse”) alongside Dop , Richard Bluck….and mid year saw The Hobbit trilogy 2013 pick ups with Paul on as 3D camera operator for the 2nd unit and Green Screen unit. Next came the unique tv war history series War News for which Paul shot the re-enactments with great success on a limited budget and a tiny crew. 2014 kicked off with Paul shooting The Kick , a tv feature drama telling the story of unwanted player Stephen Donald and the All Blacks 2011 World Cup campaign. Donald went on to be one of the pivotal players in the All Blacks winning.
This same year Paul was honoured to receive Accreditation from the New Zealand Cinematographers Society.
The successful team from "The Kick" of Paul , Danny Mulheron ( Director) and producer Carmen Leonard ( Great Southern Film and Tv) came together again in 2015 to shoot the prestigous tv drama series "Hillary" , a 6 part drama about the life of Sir Edmund Hillary . As soon as he wrapped , Paul went onto join Roger Donaldson ( Director) on his cinema documentary about Bruce McLaren for General Film Company , in theatres June 2017.
2016 Paul shot director/writer/producerThomas Robins tv feature "Catching the Black Widow" , then ont Yvonne Mackays "Doubt: The Scott Watson Story" TV docu Drama .A stint on Netlfix series Roman Empire and Amazon series American Playboy as 2nd unit dop then joined same Hillary team to shoot "Why Does Love" , the story ofgreat NZ band The Exponents before lensing director Thomas Robins next tv feature " Kiwi" ( on screens in 2017).
2016 saw the inaugural NCZS ( New Zealand Cinematographers Society) Cinematography awards. Paul picked up the Gold for TV features for his work on Field Punishment #1.
In between all this Paul continues his documentary and tvc shooting.
To be continued. :-)