by Dave Stewart
Dave Stewart: Describe yourself as a filmmaker.
Rick Gibbs: I’d boil it down to “team player.” My favorite gigs have always been as part of a crew, from gofer/PA to Director/DP, the collaborative energy is what I most enjoy. In recent years I’ve enjoyed working with younger filmmakers; passing on whatever experience and knowledge I might have to the next generation.
Dave: What interests you about filmmaking?
Rick: It’s the storytelling; using whatever tools are at your disposal to tell that story. As a DOP, to translate the director’s vision into an image; that takes an enormous amount of listening. As Director, to understand the story, come up with a vision for telling it, and then communicate it to everyone involved.
Dave: Tell us about your industry experience.
Rick: I started at the Chapel Hill, North Carolina PBS affiliate in 1968—TV studio production and documentaries on 16mm. At university I majored in Film & TV and made a few ‘student’ films. Worked in commercial TV sports. Hung around the South for a year working on documentary films. In 1972, as part of a “performing arts” commune, my wife and I moved to Colorado. Made some more films there. The commune broke up, and my wife and I moved to Los Angeles. A friend had gotten on as Best Boy for a John Cassavettes film (Woman Under The Influence). I didn’t get on the crew until it was in post production… as an uncredited assistant-assistant editor, but I loved being there.
Fast forward to 1986. We’re living on PEI. Friends tell me about Video Atlantic run by Jack McAndrew. Start off as Camera Assist, then Cameraman. Since I’d last picked up a camera, everything had changed. I had to start from scratch again, but I still loved the work more than anything else. Jack was (and still is) an incredible resource. From him I learned a lot about storytelling—the heart of everything we do in this industry.
After a couple of years, a slot opens at CBC Charlottetown. Once again, I start at the bottom…summer replacement in VTR, moving up to ENG Camera. In the mid 90s I switched to Producer and filled in for the Studio Director at times. During those years I shot commercials and music videos for Moses Media. Dave Moses and I were an excellent pair! He pushed me to step outside my ‘formal’ training and take chances with framing and camera moves. Doing those commercials on film, some in 35mm, was very courageous of him.
In the past few years I've shot a couple of short dramas for Susan Rodgers. Her commitment and courage stand out, and that inspired me. One other project that stands out was a pilot directed by Duncan McIntosh, a segment from Anne. I learned a lot from his method of directing; he's an excellent communicator, and a tremendous resource on Lucy Maud. He opened my eyes to the many layers of her writing. Also I’m proud of the docs I produced/shot for CBC…the commitment we (camera, editors and reporters) had back then to present Islanders with the very best we could. One last mention should go to the interviews for Veterans Affairs. I shot some and did the interview for others. That was a truly life-changing experience.
To read a longer version of this interview, go to Dave’s blog on this site.