Australia's very own cinematographer is all the rage among Hollywood's finest. He’s shot Mel Gibson, mentored Angelina Jolie, and Hugh Jackman owes his career to him. Find out why Dean Semler is one of Australia's finest cinematographers.
Nicolette Lorraway

19 Jan 2016 - 4:35 PM  UPDATED 26 Jan 2016 - 11:09 AM

Watch Dean Semler’s Road to Hollywood now at SBS On Demand.


Directors tend to get all the credit when it comes to making movies. But when it comes to the visual feel and look of a film, it's actually the cinematographer we should thank.

Enter Dean Semler - one of Australia's finiest cinematographers. His ability to tell a story through moving image, his ability to light the most breathtaking scenes, and his skill at shooting both documentary and feature film have made him a force to be reckoned with.

So it's no wonder Hollywood’s biggest names are dying to work with this Aussie. Here are five reasons Dean Semler will be your new favourite Director of Photography.


1. He discovered one of Australia's greatest talent exports, Hugh Jackman.

Hugh Jackman owes his whole career to Dean. Dean's wife, Annie, discovered the actor while working in a gym. Dean even took the Wolverine actor's very first head shot. And as they say, the rest is history.


2. He's worked with THE Mel Gibson. Four times.

Most people dream of working with Mel Gibson – Dean Semler’s done it four times. Jealous?

Dean and Mel started their careers working on Mad Max II. After that, Dean soon became Mel’s go-to cinematographer, working on some extraordinary productions including the critically-acclaimed We Were Soldiers and Apocalypto. With a track record like that, we bet they've got a few stories to tell.


3. He's someone Angelina Jolie truly "trusts".

Becoming a first-time director is a nerve-wracking experience, whether you're a film student or A-List star. When Angelina Jolie was making her debut as a director, she knew she needed a cinematographer she could trust. She chose Dean Semler to mentor her through her maiden experience on In the Land of Blood and Honey, for just that reason. In 2013, she even presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, saying “There is nothing more sacred on a film set than trust and Dean inspires the kind of trust that we all dream of. And because of that, artists often do their best work when they’re working with him.” How touching!


4. He won his first Academy Award working alongside Kevin Costner.

Dances with Wolves still holds a reputation for having the most outstanding cinematography of the American West, and won Dean Semler an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Since then, he and Kevin have worked together many times, including the now infamous Waterworld.


5. He's best friends with acclaimed-director George Miller AO.

The creator of the Mad Max franchise, director of Happy Feet, Babe and more, considers Dean Semler to be one of his best friends. Their friendship blossomed whilst filming the Mad Max II, which George directed. Stuck in the desert for months and filming in harsh conditions may have been challenging, but it was also one of the best times of their lives.


Check out the new documentary Dean Semler’s Road to Hollywood now at SBS On Demand.