Ryan Sauer


What got you started in cinematography? Why music specifically?

I actually use to ride bmx when I was younger, and always use to watch bmx edits on the net or dvd’s that were released through the big brands.
My mates and I found ourselves looking up to these people and in turn, wanted to film ourselves and make little edits and we actually brought out a DVD once (which I hope will never see the light of day).
I use to steal my mums sony mini DVD handycam which she banned me from taking out of the house mind you, and bought a little $10 screw on fisheye which I didn’t realise I had on backwards for some time, and started filming my mates and editing together little videos in imovie.

Wasn’t until half way through year 12 when I spoke to a careers councillor at school that I realised I could actually turn my passion into a career.

As for why music, it was always a passion of mine playing classical piano for 10ish years, and the high paced edits from my bmx days really assisted in the club promo style work I was getting after I finished school.
I use to go out quite a lot and found myself meeting a lot of the promoters/dj’s and all it really took was mentioning I was a videographer and luckily for me they gave me a shot.


What was your first professional cinematography gig? 

This is a tough one, I'm not sure I really recall. I remember one of my first gigs was for a brand new club night in a rural Victoria town. The promoter ended up doing a runner on everyone and not paying (wasn’t the last time unfortunately) and the video never saw the light of day so it doesn’t really count I guess. Apart from that I think Wah Wah Thursdays was my first solo professional video gig, which was also the place I shot club photos at for almost 2 years.


Do you edit your own work? Why/why not? (What software do you use etc) 

I do edit my own work, I think its important to shoot to edit so having a knowledge of all sides of production is very handy. Even when I direct I still have the final product in mind and how it will all come together. I occasionally get VFX artists on board for some artistic flair, and on bigger projects I may get on an assistant editor.

Always having trustworthy people you can send Vimeo links to that you can get constructive criticism is important as I’m sure every editor knows, staring at the same project for ages can actually feel like you are going backwards.

As for software I use the Adobe suite (Premiere, After Effects).


How did you come to work with Peking Duk? 

At the time I met the lads I was doing some contract work for Vicious Records who they were signed with at the time, and I was about to head on a Thailand party tour which they were playing at.

The guys at Vicious said you HAVE to meet these guys, you will fucking love them and they are so fun to party with.

Lets just say I met them as soon as I got there, and we have been partying together since.

Big love to those guys on a side note, they are literally the reason I am where I am today and get the recognition I do <3


Do you find the Instagram space helps a lot with inspiration/promoting your work?

I am fucking terrible with social media, I rarely post anything and so much of my work just never gets posted on my socials.

There are so many guys out there who kill it, and I definitely get inspiration from people on there wether it be DOP/Cinematographers screen shots or little short clips from guys in the festival scene but its just not for me, its like a full time job!

Don’t get me wrong I love the fact I have lots of different avenues to display my work, and I wish I was better with it, but I definitely find face to face networking way more beneficial when it comes to promoting myself initially.


Describe your creative approach for directing Peking Duk’s ‘Reprisal’ music video - (how did you find crew to work on this piece, how did you plan to film, did you storyboard or make a shot list, etc)

Adam had been showing me the songs on the road as they guys were making them, and that really started the creative process for me.
When I finally got both the finished products I got to writing a rough outline as to how I saw it going.

I then sat down with the boys at their manager’s apartment and we wrote most of the film in half that day.

I then went away and finished the rest and got some help to write the ending from a mate of mine Polat Yazgan, and the boys signed off on it.

From there I contacted Chris Elder who is an amazing Producer and I couldn’t have done it without him.

I knew I wanted both Ed Reiss who I have worked with countless times before, and Matt Wood as DOP’s and I couldn’t have been happier with their efforts.

The whole crew was amazing, some of them I had not worked with before and were through Elder’s recommendations, but everyone went far and beyond and put up with my shit and probably the two longest days of their lives.

What’s your go to gear for shooting a live gig vs a music video? 

This is a ‘how long is a piece of string’ type question. Every gig is unique so you have to treat the equipment you use that way as well. For touring I use a simple Sony A7sii kit, DJI Ronin gimbal, little MiniDV tape handycam, and a bunch of lenses and accessories. Packing light and being able to grab your camera quickly is essential for the run and gun style of film making. In saying that when doing festival after movies or bigger shows I always try and mix it up and get a RED on the shoot, as well as professional drone operators and such. When it comes to Music Videos there is no go to for me. I have used RED a lot because it was readily available and accessible with smaller budgets, but on the Peking Duk clip we used 4 different cameras, being Arri’s and RED’s. I guess you just have to choose the most appropriate equipment for the job, and not always the best or most expensive. Too many people get caught up on what equipment they have and having the best of the best I think.

When I started out I used a Canon XM2 for example, which is a large MiniDV tape camera and the zoom was broken and only worked in low light for some reason, but I made it work.

I was lucky enough to upgrade when I was like 19 to a Canon 7D, nifty fifty, and a $200 fisheye lense and that served me for a couple of years all through me learning.

I guess my point is just get out there and have a solid vision and plan and don’t be too concerned about all the flashy equipment you have.


What’s your best advice for upcoming cinematographers? 

Apart from the obvious which is never stop filming/editing, and when you don’t have jobs go out and do passion projects or get onto youtube and learn new techniques because the internet is powerful.

I would definitely say get the hell out there and network, don’t sit behind your computer and email a thousand people with a generic template because I know for a fact it doesn’t work.

Managers and Labels don’t want to see insertnamehere@gmail.com they want to give jobs to people they connect with on a personal level.

I use to go out nightclubbing when I was younger 4 or so nights a week, I shot photos at local clubs for next to no financial gain (mainly because I spent it all on drinks) but those connections I made have been some of the most beneficial of my career.

Everyone knows someone, and everyone has one thing in common, they all listen to music and enjoy the occasional night out.

Almost every business needs video content at some point also, and you need to put into all their heads that you are a professional videographer.


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