From Heidelberg To Queensland: Profile - Dominik Muench

Name: Dominik Muench

Age: 28

Star sign: Pisces

Home town: Heidelberg, Germany

Current base: Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia

What languages do you speak?: English and German

Occupation: Cinematographer and glamour photographer

Training and formal education:
I have a Bachelor and Masters degree in film and television from Bond University. I am currently completing my Doctorate in Creative Arts on HD camera systems at Bond University, and also work there as a photography tutor.

Current assignments:
I work as a freelance cinematographer shooting music videos, TV commercials, documentaries and high end corporate productions as well as analytical filming for mining and construction companies here in Queensland, which involves a bit of aerial helicopter work. Two feature films are on the cards over the next 10 months as well.

I also work as the photo editor/editorial photographer for the Australian Men’s Lifestyle magazine Apollo, shooting all their glamour content, which is great fun and a good way to experiment with lighting.

Have you been busy?
Not as busy as I would like to be. I enjoy shooting both stills and film work and, while I do quite a bit of stills, the motion picture side could be busier.

Shooting where:
In the last 3-4 years I have been shooting in Thailand, Indonesia, India, Germany, Czech Republic, and Australia. I love traveling and shooting in other countries.

What types of productions have you mostly shot:
Mostly music videos and commercials. Music videos are my favorite format to shoot at the moment. There is a lot of experimenting and creativity involved, which makes it so much more fun.

How long and how complicated can music videos be? Are they demanding technically or only artistically?
The music videos I shoot usually take between 1-3 days max, with most shoots usually only taking up a whole day of shooting. I think a good music video should be both technically and artistically demanding; nothing wrong with a bit of a challenge. It helps you grow in your line of work.

What was your first ever shooting job?
I was the B camera operator on a promo video for the Indy car race on the Gold Coast. There were three cameramen in total and the whole production was aimed to show what Indy is all about: fast cars, pretty pit lane girls, and of course partying. Luckily, with my background in glamour photography I was in charge of getting all the shots of the promo and pit lane girls.

What has your experience with the RED camera been so far?
Very exciting. I was one of the first cinematographers to use the RED in Australia on a project back in 2007. We flew in camera #31 with a technician from L.A. I now own a RED ONE production package and enjoy working with the camera very much.

A downside: the camera takes a while to boot up and can get hot quite easily if not taken care of properly. Apart from that, I’m really happy with the system and the results it offers.

Will you acquire a DSLR for video work at any stage?
Definitely not. Why bring a pushbike to a car race when you can have a V8? There are many great camera systems out there that offer much more latitude, bit depth, better ergonomics, and flexibility with image control. I don’t really see the point of DSLRs for what I do.

Most recent, interesting assignments:
A music video for a young and talented Australian singer, which was great fun to shoot in Byron Bay. There are two pilots for TV shows coming up as well as a low budget feature, which I am excited to be a part of.

Current equipment you use:
For film work I am using my RED ONE. For stills work I am shooting with a Nikon D3s.

Other gear you have access to:
Anything the job requires and the budget permits, really. The local resources are fantastic and I can get anything from an Arri D21 to a Genesis or a Varicam if need be.

The same goes for lenses such as Master Primes and Cooke S4s as well as most other accessories and lighting gear. It all comes down to the job and the budget.

Equipment “wish list”:
A set of ARRI Master Primes and an underwater housing for my RED and stills camera. A full HMI & Kino Flo lighting package. Some Briese Parabolic Reflectors for my stills work would be nice too.

What piece of gear do you wish someone might make?
A 10-400mm F1.4 zoom lens with similar optical characteristics to a prime lens, but that is probably a bit much to ask for. I’m quite happy with the tools available.

How much stills work do you do? Do you find there are many clients who appreciate your dual capabilities?
I do quite a bit of stills work for APOLLO magazine as well as model portfolios, actors headshots and so on. The market is quite different, though, and usually does not cross over. While people like my stills work and seem to appreciate that I can do both, I’m usually not hired for both capabilities on one job.

Best thing about your job:
I get to do what I enjoy doing, plus I get to be creative, along with the opportunity to play with fantastic toys and meet interesting people.

Worst thing about your job:
Long hours, no security of work, dwindling budgets and quality standards.

Dullest assignment:
A music video production in the Czech republic. The team and talent were great but the producer and director were very young and arrogant and had no clue what they were doing. There was no planning and structure to the shoot and my crew was treated very badly and disrespectfully.

Hairiest/scariest assignment:
So far nothing crazy has happened to me yet. I did a corporate production in India where the people from workplace health and safety regulations would probably have gotten a heart attack on some of the setups, but you've got work with what you have available.

How much 16:9 do you shoot?
All of my work is widescreen, I do not specifically shoot for 4:3. It’s a horrible format that is luckily fading into oblivion.

What’s your taste in music?
Rock, Heavy Metal, Alternative, Classical Music.

Favorite group:
Too many to mention but I really enjoy Slayer, Deftones and Smashing Pumpkins.

Favorite food:
Anything Asian really, mostly Thai, Chinese, Indonesian.

Contact details:
Dominik Muench
T: +61 (0) 424754282