John Bartley

Cinematographer


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

On his approach to The X-Files, John Bartley says: "They thought it was crazy to go that dark, to get things down that far. Sometimes it's a little nail-biting and you've got to make sure that it's actually there, or something's there. Directors would look at me and say, you okay with that? They still do that today too." John Bartley won an Emmy Award for his influential cinematography of The X-Files and also served as the DP on such series as Lost and Roswell

In his two-and-a-half-hour Archive interview, Bartley talks about breaking into TV in Australia and his move to Canada and the US, where he became a gaffer in TV and films. He discusses his transition from gaffer to Director of Photography, initially with the feature film "Beyond the Stars," a film that he later says was among his hardest projects to light. He then speaks about his work in series television, starting with the police drama The Commish and then The X-Files

Regarding The X-Files, he recalls how he came to be hired, discusses the dark look to the series and his efforts to add color as it continued and recalls working with the series leads. He recounts being hired on Lost and describes the challenges posed by the series' location work in Hawaii. He also notes the significant use of camera movement on Lost and speaks about the show's production team. 

Other TV projects Bartley touches on include: fantasy/adventure series Early Edition, sci-fi series Roswell and the television movie Odd Girl Out. Throughout the interview, he comments on being concerned with matching the lighting throughout a project, shooting in the 16 x 9 format but being aware of "TV safe" and how the introduction of HD effects his work. 

Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on May 8, 2009 in North Hollywood, CA.

"I like the camera to be moving. I've gone to work on a couple of shows part time, and they get a little surprised when you say, 'let's lay down some track'… 'Well, we don't usually do that.' 'Well, let's lay some track today.'"    

Highlights
John Bartley on the responsibilities of a Director of Photography
02:45
John Bartley on shooting Lost on location in Hawaii
03:00
John Bartley on the look of The X-Files
01:04
John Bartley on the importance of the camera operator (and other camera crew)
01:21
John Bartley on set security to keep the plot secret on Lost
01:26
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his background and the interest in theater and photography; on his first television work in Australian TV; on moving to Toronto and getting non-union work; on transitioning from gaffer to DP
19:23
On shooting The Commish in 16mm; on film stocks and the HD format; on the schedule of The Commish and on the series' star Michael Chiklis; on matching in lighting; on how the DPs rotated on Early Edition ; on shooting TV versus features
19:15
On getting hired for The X-Files; on his impressions of the X-Files pilot, and his own work on the series; on lighting The X-Files when he first started
04:54
On the set of The X-Files and the long hours he and the crew put in; on adding color to The X-Files as he continued with the show; on the kinds of equipment he used on The X-Files; on watching The X-Files on TV while he worked on the show
14:18

Chapter 2

On the importance of the camera operator (and other camera crew); on roaming the set during shots; on insert shots; on the directors of The X-Files; on a typical workday on The X-Files; on working with X-Files leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
14:30
On the look of The X-Files; on leaving The X-Files; on the amount of darkness in the lighting of The X-Files; on his experience working on Early Edition following The X-Files
12:32
On "fast" workdays on Lost; on the 16 x 9 format; on the challenges of shooting Lost in daylight; on shooting Lost with frequent camera movement; on getting hired for Roswell and the show's "look"
15:41
On the cast of Roswell; on X-Files /Roswell producer-director David Nutter; on the established routine on Lost when he started and his production team; on the producers of Lost; on Lost as a groundbreaking series; on shooting Lost on location in Hawaii
15:06

Chapter 3

On conveying time travel on Lost; on his initial reading of Lost scripts; on set security to keep the plot secret on Lost  
On the directors and cast of Lost; on shooting underwater scenes (employing camera operator Don King) on Lost; on advice to newcomers; on his proudest career achievements
Shows

Commish, The

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John Bartley on shooting The Commish in 16mm
01:18
John Bartley on the schedule on The Commish
01:35
John Bartley briefly on leaving The Commish
00:43
John Bartley briefly on The Commish star Michael Chiklis
00:20

Early Edition

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John Bartley on how the DPs rotated on Early Edition
00:44
John Bartley on his experience working on Early Edition following The X-Files
01:20

Lost

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John Bartley on "fast" workdays on Lost
01:03
John Bartley on the challenges of shooting Lost in daylight
00:53
John Bartley on shooting Lost with frequent camera movement
01:51
John Bartley on the established routine on Lost when he started and his production team
02:21
John Bartley on the producers of Lost
01:21
John Bartley on Lost as a groundbreaking series
00:37
John Bartley on shooting Lost on location in Hawaii
03:00
John Bartley on conveying time travel on Lost
02:19
John Bartley on his initial reading of Lost scripts
01:13
John Bartley on set security to keep the plot secret on Lost
01:26
John Bartley on the directors of Lost
01:52
John Bartley on the cast of Lost
04:41
John Bartley on shooting underwater scenes (employing camera operator Don King) on Lost
02:02

Odd Girl Out

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John Bartley briefly on a favorite TV movie project 
00:40

Roswell

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John Bartley on getting hired for Roswell and the show's "look"
03:24
John Bartley on the cast of Roswell
02:33
John Bartley on X-Files /Roswell producer-director David Nutter
00:50

X-Files, The

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John Bartley on getting hired for The X-Files
01:35
John Bartley on his impressions of the X-Files pilot, and his own work on the series
00:58
John Bartley on lighting The X-Files when he first started
01:54
John Bartley on the set of The X-Files and the long hours he and the crew put in
01:51
John Bartley on adding color to The X-Files as he continued with the show
00:39
John Bartley on the kinds of equipment he used on The X-Files
03:02
John Bartley on watching The X-Files on TV while he worked on the show
00:38
John Bartley on the directors of The X-Files
01:11
John Bartley on a typical workday on The X-Files
01:07
John Bartley on working with X-Files leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
01:26
John Bartley on the look of The X-Files
01:04
John Bartley on leaving The X-Files
00:48
John Bartley on the amount of darkness in the lighting of The X-Files
00:38
John Bartley on X-Files /Roswell producer-director David Nutter
00:50
Professions

Cinematographer

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John Bartley on the responsibilities of a Director of Photography
02:45
John Bartley on the importance of the camera operator (and other camera crew)
01:21

Production Professionals

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John Bartley on the responsibilities of a Director of Photography
02:45
John Bartley on the importance of the camera operator (and other camera crew)
01:21
People

Gillian Anderson

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John Bartley on working with X-Files leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
01:26

Michael Chiklis

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John Bartley briefly on The Commish star Michael Chiklis
00:20

David Duchovny

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John Bartley on working with X-Files leads David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
01:26

Brendan Fehr

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John Bartley on the cast of Roswell
02:33

Don King

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John Bartley on shooting underwater scenes (employing camera operator Don King) on Lost
02:02

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