April 27, 2023

David “Gribs” Gribble, ACS on his long career and films Cadillac Man, The World’s Fastest Indian, The Quest, Jesse Stone

David “Gribs” Gribble grew up in Brisbane, AU and began studying photography at night school. He became a photo assistant, moved to Sydney, and found a job at a local film studio making commercials and low-budget movies. At the time, in the 1970’s and ’80’s, Australia was experiencing a resurgence of its cinema, known as the Australian New Wave. The government provided tax incentives for ordinary people to invest in movies, and established the Australian Film, Television and Radio School. The country’s film industry was jump started, and the genre known as Ozploitation was born.

Gribs learned camera operating on the job. His first feature film was The Man From Hong Kong, followed by the Aussie cult classic race movie, Running On Empty. The film Monkey Grip won some awards, and Gribs was asked to shoot his first American movie, Off Limits, starring Willem Dafoe and Gregory Hines. He thinks that working with American actors was different than working with Australian actors- the Americans seemed to be more prone to distraction and sensitive about their appearance. Gribs learned to “light faces, not places” since that’s where the dialog comes from, and flattering actors by telling them how great they look in a particular spot, to give them tools to make themselves look better on screen. He also learned that in lighting, it’s better to work with a broad brush and shoot before you’re ready- as a cinematographer, don’t indulge yourself too much.

The movie Cadillac Man was challenging to shoot for a few reasons. The movie takes place almost entirely in one location- at the car dealership. Gribs had to combat flat lighting up against the walls of the office, as well as dealing with reflections from shiny cars and large windows. Director Roger Donaldson shot take after take, because actor Robin Williams was constantly improvising off script. Gribs found him extremely funny, and says there was so much extra footage of Williams that was cut out, it could probably make another movie.

Gribs also discusses working with Anthony Hopkins on The World’s Fastest Indian, Jean-Claude Van Damme on The Quest and shooting the Jesse Stone movies starring Tom Selleck.

Find David Gribble: Instagram @gribshott

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