“How’d you get that job?”: Prince Nediyedath, camera department

Prince Nediyedath.

The “How’d you get that job?” series examines career pathways. Prince Nediyedath talks to Denise Eriksen about what inspired his “laser-focused” ambition for a career in cinematography.

It was while watching Ethan and Joel Cohen’s No Country for Old Men in year 8 that Prince Nediyedath decided he was going to be a cinematographer – he was so inspired by the work of Roger Deakins.

“I was just in awe of how visually that film spoke to me. There’s nothing flashy about it. They don’t have big cinematic sequences and stuff. It’s almost dry, but it just hit me in another level.”

He had been a fan of the flashier films, Dark Knight for example. But he knew this was the style of films he wanted to make – not that he ever dreamed he would ever be able to do it.

Nediyedath was born in Bangalore, India and moved here with his parents in 2007 when he was nine years old.

Growing up, he had initially thought, after watching shows like Top Gear, he would work in the automotive sector because he was passionate about cars.

“Initially, there was not a single part of me that thought I’d be working in film. I thought I’d do something science or physics related, or try and make way into the design aspect of cars – even though I can’t draw.”

He moved schools in about year 9 and was late to choose electives.

“There was one elective available called ‘media’ and I was like, okay, I’ll give this a shot.”

It’s where he made most of his new friends because it was “so collaborative”.

“We had a spec ad to do as part of a class project and I just loved the whole process of thinking of an idea, shooting it and editing.  We’re only in school and we’re playing around with camcorders in Sony Vegas,” he laughs.

“And then it dawned on me that this really fun. It was really creative and something I enjoyed doing which I couldn’t say about maths or physics. That seemed like a chore.”

At that point, he liked the idea of being a director but quickly rejected it.

“I didn’t think I had the chops in all departments. I knew I had a strong visual sense. I could work with actors. But the whole music, editing and all the other hats the director has to wear didn’t feel right for me.”

Seeing Deakins’ work cemented cinematography for him. So, then he had to choose further education that would work for that dream. That turned out to be the Swinburne University diploma course, which was focused on the practical aspects of filmmaking.

“That interested me more than the Bachelor course that seemed, at least for the first year, to be more theory based.”

He opted for a second year and then did the graduate course, meaning four years of education. It ended up being a smart move because he could be involved in a lot of student films, pushing himself to try new techniques with directors who wanted to make different work.

“The third-year film was a vampire, horror shot at night in the middle of the desert. That’s not easy. You have a 20-page script, you have to light a street five hours out of Melbourne in the middle of winter. With a tiny budget. 

“I looked at the director and said, ‘You are crazy. I have no idea how to do this. So, sign me up.’”

All the while, he worked part-time at Offshoot – a gear hire company.

“When you are at a rental house, you get all of the knowledge, experience and network and eventually you leave and start working as a freelancer.”

In the short time since he left Swinburne, Nediyedath has had a huge variety of work on features, TV and commercials in jobs such as DOP, focus puller and 2nd assistant camera. 

“I’m laser-focused on my true ambition and that is to be a cinematographer. Every step I’m taking is now just trying to get me closer to that goal.”

Denise Eriksen is Co-Founder (with Esther Coleman Hawkins) of Media Mentors Australia. 

The company has partnered with VicScreen to establish Set Educated, a new skills development initiative to prepare up to 400 Victorians to enter the screen industry in the coming months.  It offers an introduction to the screen industry and showcases the crewing jobs available and how to get them.  The first Set Educated session will be held at ACMI Melbourne on 20 May 2023 and a second in Geelong on Sunday, 21 May. Registrations are $25 and more information can be found at here.

Update – Set Educated Events in Sydney: Saturday February 24, 2024 at ACE in Western Sydney and Saturday March 2, at NIDA in Central Sydney. An online event is planned for Saturday March 9.