Every picture tells a story. Most of us watch the news every day, viewing footage of the day’s events. It can be a tough job chasing stories, but Prime news cameraman, Milton Gilfillan believes he has the best job in the world. Apart from his daily television work, Milton has a strong passion for his craft. Meet the man who is living his dream.
How long have you lived in the Manning Valley?
All my life. I attended Taree High School through all the levels.
What was your first job?
I joined Woolworths in Newcastle and worked my way through to management. I was offered a job at Taree Camera House and stayed there seven years.
How did you start in television?
I was filling in on weekends for a couple of years, and then manager Leo Gillespie offered me a job fulltime in news as a cameraman in 1988, and I have been there ever since.
What do you like about your job?
It is dream I have always had; I love working with people. It has a terrific variety and you meet many different people and can be social in a social way.
What is your typical day?
It varies. Some days are longer than others; I am on call 24 hours – seven days a week.
What is the worst part of your job?
Car accidents. The multiple fatalities are tough; in a week I covered nine people killed in three car crashes. In my time I have covered more than 1,800 killed on the roads. It can be the world’s greatest, yet the world’s worst.
What is your most memorable moment?
Filming the stranded Whales at Seal Rocks; we worked for three straight days. We filmed the entire rescue; it was not straight forward – camera played up, all the usual things that can go wrong. The most pleasing result was we won a Logie for regional television.
How has life behind a camera changed?
Technology has changed but they still weigh about the same. The digital and computerised world has made life easier, particularly the editing.
You have a thirst for doing documentaries?
I love the challenge of telling a story through the lens.
What are your current projects?
The major one is the world land speed record holder, Ken Warby.
How did this come about?
Ken used to race boats here on the Manning River, then he started to test the Spirit of Australia on our river before his attempt on the land water speed record. I used to film him for the news and that is how we got to meet. Over time we developed a strong friendship.
Why document his life story?
He is one of Australia’s great achievers. He holds the world water speed record at 317.60 miles or 511.11 kilometres per hour in 1978. We tend to forget the achievements of so many Australians; his story is fantastic. He designed, built and financed the project which eventually proved to be successful.
When did you start to film, and what format will it be?
I have been collecting bits and pieces for many years, but back in 2003 I got very serious. Ken began building a new boat, Aussie Spirit, and I have tried to document the journey of the Aussie Spirit from the beginning. During filming I have had the pleasure of working on the boat as well; it was a great thrill.
I plan three one hour documentaries. Ken’s life story is being written so one will complement that and be released at the same time; the other two will be a collection of all the material I have on file. It is all very interesting and fascinating.
Visiting the United States was also a must, as it has kept my material up to date.
What type of person is he?
Very humble, quiet and great company. Socially he switches off, but when the time comes to racing he is totally focused and is the ultimate professional. He lives in America and is a legend over there; they love his achievements, and we are all waiting for his next milestone.
Ken is in the process of restoring the famous Bluebird, which was driven by Donald Campbell. The Bluebird broke the water speed record seven times between 1955 and 1964, with Ken planning to bring the Bluebird back to life in a re-enactment.
How do you relax?
I love hunting through the markets locally and in Sydney; I have found many bargains. I love collecting memorabilia.
What about hobbies?
The film work is a hobby, but I have a strong passion for flying and I’m currently building my own aircraft.
Who have been your mentors?
Film producer Jim Frazier; he invented a new lens which has revolutionised the international film industry.
Musical Director Alan Deek, Ken Warby and Director, Producer and Screenwriter; Bobby Barton.
Thank you Milton. Congratulations on your work to date. We’ll catch up with you in the future as the time draws near for your documentary release.
Story by Peter Lyne.