Looking Through the Lens of Experience: Steve Lindsay

(Cinematographer Steve Lindsay)

A young teenage boy looks through the eyepiece of an old handheld camera. He’s gathered his friends to act out the parts as he aligns the framing just so. He can catch the sunlight in the “golden hour” giving a stronger sense of emotion to the actions of his young compatriots as they move about, mimicking great triumphs and tragedies. Steve Lindsay was just twelve-years-old when his grandfather would loan him his Bell and Howell regular 8 camera to create his own short films. It’s best not to dissuade young people when they undertake such endeavours because it just might lead to an acclaimed career, as in the case of Lindsay’s notoriety as a cinematographer. 2018 finds him with more than twenty-five years in the industry and a host of lauded productions which are all thankful to Steve…and his grandfather for the DP’s talent. Whether it’s beauty shots of food or depictions of the great human spirit striving to overcome, Lindsay has been fascinated since his childhood about capturing these emotional images as they occur.

When Steve was in high school it was big Hollywood films that were in his sights; some years later he found that the creative freedom and challenges of others formats for storytelling spoke to him more loudly. A television production like You Gotta Eat Here! was attractive in a way that a sixteen-year-old Lindsay would have overlooked. This reality series which aired on the Food Network explored unique restaurants across the US, Canada, and Europe. Combining the “foodie” craze with human interest stories, You Gotta Eat Here! received a Canadian Screen Award for Best Lifestyle or Talk Program or Series as well as a Canadian Screen Award for Best Lifestyle Program or Series. As DP on this series Steve was instrumental in maintaining the look from restaurant to restaurant, with an emphasis on lighting and shooting the food beauties. Over four seasons on You Gotta Eat Here! he shot close to 3000 food beauties.

Vetting the wide range of work he’s been offered, Steve served as cinematographer on the moving film Outside the Ring. The documentary is the story of women and self-identified women who have experienced violence and are taking part in a violence recovery program called Shape Your Life. Shape Your Life (SYL) is a free, trauma informed, non-contact boxing program founded in 2007, helping more than 1,600 participants. Outside the Ring appeared at numerous festivals throughout North America including the Shadow Box Film Festival in New York City where it was a finalist. It is presently being used as a Pedagogical Training tool at Bridgewater State University. Joanne Green (co-director and producer of the film) states, “We could not have made the type of film we did without Steve’s very rare talent. His abilities and creativity are quite simply very rare in this industry.”

Lindsay expresses his affinity for commercials and advertisements as well. He remarks, “I don’t think that one avenue is better or more creative than the other, they are all ways of telling a story. There’s something particularly enjoyable about shooting branded content to me. It’s similar to the way some people feel about Indie films, there’s a smaller crew and greater collaboration. It allows for expression and creativity, which is something I think all artistically minded people are in search of.” That creativity has paid of numerous branded content videos for clients such as Canon (cameras and lenses), Canadian Tire, Bosch Appliances, and Coca Cola’s Gold Leaf Iced Tea, the latter of which received more than ten million views on digital platforms.

While Joanne Green and Jim Morrison IV (director of You Gotta Eat Here! and other projects with Lindsay) point to Steve’s insight and creative eye, the cinematographer himself point to a decidedly more practical asset. He relates, “A DP’s experience is priceless. There are DPs that film wildlife docs, DPs that film docs in the artic or underwater, DPs that specialize in a style or genre of doc. My experience is with docs that centre on human interest stories. As the DP on these kinds of docs you will find yourself in intimate interview situations with people that are sharing their life stories. Whether I’m working on a doc or a commercial or a film, I’m looking for that connection with the people. That’s what interest me and leads me. It’s worked pretty well so far.”

Kelly King writes for numerous popular online media outlets in addition to being a staff writer for NYC & LA based/internationally published Drumhead magazine.