As a Freelance Professional Cameraman, you are always waiting for the phone to ring for your next job. This particular day the phone rings, “Hi, would you be interested in spending a few days filming with Ian Gillan, the lead singer of Deep Purple when he gets here for their up-coming Australian tour”. ABSOLUTELY!
My soundo and I are both musos so this was going to be a dream. We picked Ian up from his hotel early in the morning to head off on a three-hour drive to catch a barge to take us all to the biggest sand island in the world.
Fraser Island, World Heritage listed, it is 123 km long and 22 km wide. Ancient towering rainforests, dozens of beautiful freshwater lakes and creeks, incredible coloured sand cliffs and ocean blue waves crashing onto the amazing long, white sandy beaches.
Ian had heard about it and wanted to see it. Deep Purple are one of the biggest touring bands in the world and wherever they go Ian wants to see and experience as much as he can, so, Fraser Island here we come.
In my business, you spend a lot of time driving to locations and it becomes clear very quickly if the shoot will go well or will be difficult by how well you get on with strangers on those drives. With Ian, it was a breeze, a fantastic guy, it soon felt like we had known each other for years. The test soon came though as I took the long cut, not the short cut, and it looked like we might miss the barge for the trip across to the Island. No complaints from Ian, no attitude or negative comments and I eventually made the barge with a full minute to spare, no worries.
The barge ride over to the island was great, with blue skies, even bluer seas and a gorgeous day. As we got closer and closer to the island, I could see Ian was impressed. The blue waters, white beaches and green forests as far as you could see to the left of the boat and right of the boat were definitely spectacular. Ian said he had seen places like this that were covered by resorts and development over the span of a couple of decades so we had better protect it. I assured him that had already happened and that the island was World Heritage listed and would be protected forever. Fraser Island has a few small areas put aside for resorts and accommodation so that people can come and appreciate the wonders of this very special place but the vast majority of the island will remain wilderness.
We were invited to stay at Kingfisher Bay Resort, an environmentally friendly resort and the nicest resort on the island. It is also close to many of the best attractions and we only had a couple of days on the island. This was never going to be enough to see it all.
Fraser Island is an adventure, the roads are soft sand tracks, all single lanes, although some are now one-way, but many are not. You can only travel in a 4wd or by foot, and there are some great walking tracks for those inclined that way.
We checked into the resort and headed off in our 4wd, soon to be enveloped by the most awe-inspiring rainforest. Monster trees as wide across as our 4wd. So tall, they almost touch the sky. Down under, the canopy wonderful tree ferns and crows nest ferns and staghorn ferns to mention a few. Fast flowing, crystal-clear creeks with water like you have never seen before. We were mesmerised, what a magical place. Lots of things for me to film.
Something that nearly all visitors to Fraser Island are blown away by, is Lake McKenzie and Ian was no exception. White sand and blue water like you have never seen, search it on Google and have a look, and it is even better to swim in. Sensational. I filmed Ian having his moment in the water then I had a chance for a swim and it was fantastic. Thanks Ian for an incredible day, but it was not over yet.
We made tracks back to Kingfisher Bay Resort, cleaned ourselves up and made our way over for dinner. We had shot a lot of great footage during the day and Ian wanted to relax so the camera stayed in the room and we went to enjoy the wonderful hospitality of the resort management.
It is hard to describe this night but I will try and I hope I can do it justice. The resort manager had organised this trip for us when he heard Ian Gillan wanted to see Fraser Island. When we arrived for dinner, the manager had us straight into the top restaurant for a fabulous meal, wine and anything else we wanted to drink.
After getting suitably gorged, we were then hosted out to the bar for more of whatever we wanted to drink. Very hospitable. This is when the fun really started.
A small bar with nice atmosphere. A great duo playing, and by now, most of the guests gone off to bed. The elements were coming together. The guys in the duo were terrific musos playing amplified acoustic guitars and singing great music. When they had their break the manager brought them over to meet Ian and we all sat around and chatted for a while.
I don’t know how it happened but before long I, and a handful of other people had the extraordinary privilege of watching a private jam session with Ian Gillan. He was up with the band, he played guitar, he sang, he jammed, he was just fantastic. A couple of hours of musical bliss. “Smoke on the Water” acoustic, fabulous. He certainly made the guys in the bands night, and gave me memories I will always treasure.
To Ian Gillan, a truly lovely man, who I will remember fondly forever. Thanks.
It’s shoots like that, that carry you through the tough ones.
If you like these stories about my favourite shoots leave a comment and let me know and I will write some more.
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