Stephen Campbell, SOC – “The Walking Dead”

I started Camera Operating while working for Michael Jackson on the Bad Tour in 1987 -1988.  One of the operators left the job and it gave me the opportunity to step up and operate for 12 months. It was a great opportunity. 35mm Arri Bl 4S – a great camera!

I returned from that tour after 15 months on the road and worked on features and episodic televison where I met and worked with Frank Miller, one of the best operators in the business. He taught me ‘How to Operate’ on long form projects and I worked along side him for a few years and eventually stepped up to ‘A’ Camera on projects shooting in the Central Florida region.  The Waterboy, Seaquest, and then Monster with Charlize Theron. She won the Oscar for best female actor on that film and it was truly an amazing experience watching her performance through the lens.

My passion for operating started when I began my career in the business as a focus puller. Realizing that the camera system works as a collaboration between the operator, the focus puller, the dolly grip and sometimes a few more technicians makes each and every position as important as the next. The value of each individual’s abilities makes
every shot that much more interesting. The excitement from achieving a great frame while shooting is a great feeling. I’ve been operating since 1992 and transitioned into DP work in 1995. I still maintain that “The Frame” is of the utmost importance when it comes to telling a cinematic story.

I started watching The Walking Dead when the pilot aired a few years ago. Frank Darabont directed an amazing show and after that show I was hooked. I was given the opportunity to work on the show at the beginning of Season 4 and have gone from ‘C’ Camera Operator to ‘A’ Camera Operator. I just knew the show. I understood how important creating great frames are to the storytelling process. We shoot primes. We make movies. We attempt to create a cinematic experience on
The Walking Dead and pay close attention to how and when we move the camera, how we shoot our close ups and how we frame for our ‘heros’.

The scene we chose is from the Season 5 Premier.  It shows Rick and Daryl escaping their cannibal captors and eventually freeing the rest of their group as they take out walkers along the way. There’s a lot of action and great camera movement.

The challenges that we were presented with are always too much to accomplish in not enough time, which includes Zombie special effects done by the best in the business, gunfire, explosions and the complete cast working together on a tight schedule. We don’t get a lot of takes so the shots have got to be right.

My contributions are always to create the best possible composition for the purpose of telling the story. It’s always about storytelling and sometimes that may be an amazing frame that doesn’t even move.