DENSON BAKER, CLASS OF 1993
I started high school at John Wollaston in 1988 as one of the Foundation students. We were the oldest kids in the School from Year 8 until graduating in Year 12. It was a very exciting period, the School was still under construction and there was a feeling of so much potential.
I have many fond memories of my time at John Wollaston, from making great friends to being inspired by some of my teachers. I thrived in such classes as Graphic Design, Media Studies, English and Art. I had a few very encouraging teachers who really inspired me to pursue my passion for filmmaking. Yvonne Wilcox my English teacher encouraged me to direct and produce a documentary to present to the class in place of doing a verbal presentation of an assignment. This allowed me to work in a format that excited me and it also meant that I learned more about the subject because I was discovering it and presenting it in a format that I loved.
I knew I wanted to be a filmmaker by the time I was 12 years old. I loved all the classes that I knew would have relevance to my career and I struggled in those that I didn’t think I would ever need to use as a filmmaker. I have since realized that so much more of what I was learning is incredibly relevant to being a cinematographer. I never knew that Mathematics would be so important and I have since developed a passion for History and Social Science. John Wollaston provided a broad foundation for learning as well as the general skills and knowledge that I have used throughout my adult life.
I went straight from high school to study at the Central Institute of Technology and did a three year Diploma of Media Design, majoring in Film and Television. Following my studies, I spent a year in the industry working as an assistant in the camera department before moving to Sydney and studying at the Australian Film Television & Radio School (AFTRS). I achieved a Graduate Diploma in Cinematography and was awarded Cinematographer of the Year in 2000.
I have been working as a freelance cinematographer for 14 years now. In that time I have shot feature films, music videos, television series and documentaries. I have been fortunate to travel much of the world with my work: the US, the UK, Italy, Africa, India, South America, New Zealand and parts of Europe and Asia. I feel that I’m still not yet in my prime, I have 10 feature films behind me and many more to come.
I have had many career highlights, from working with actors who I had always watched and loved, to operating a camera on stage with such musical artists as The Black Eyed Peas, Snoop Dog and Powderfinger, travelling to international film festivals and winning prestigious awards.
When I was a student, someone said to my class “Enjoy these times while you can, your high school years are going to be the best years of your life.” I don’t believe this, as much as I had great times at school and had wonderful friends, every year since has been the best year of my life. Every year gets better, every stage of life has new and exciting challenges. Enjoy learning, school is more than just passing exams and getting the best grades, learning is exciting and you will continue to learn for the rest of your life.