NEW DIRECTION: London-born photographer and cinematographer is enjoying a change of pace since moving to the Granite Belt.
NEW DIRECTION: London-born photographer and cinematographer is enjoying a change of pace since moving to the Granite Belt. Contributed

From London to Dalveen

IT MAY be a far cry from where he began his career snapping London fashion shows, but English filmmaker Shaun Pettigrew has made the move to the Granite Belt.

Together with his wife, model and actress Christy Quilliam, the 53-year-old director has struck a balance between film projects and farm life.

The pair bought The Straw House bed and breakfast a year ago and have kickstarted their own small-scale business making jams, with plans to expand their organic farm.

"I started assisting catwalk photographer Christopher Moore in London in 1978,” Mr Pettigrew said.

"My mum was in fashion PR, my dad worked for newspapers and my step-mum was also an artist doing fashion show posters so it kind of made sense to go into the industry.

"(Christopher) was working with Conde Nast and broadsheets and that really got me interested in photography.

"I learnt pretty much everything from working in dark rooms with him.

"After that I did freelance work for about a year in London around the mid-80s, and then decided to get as far away from England as possible.”

Mr Pettigrew said he moved to Sydney for a short time before making Auckland his home base.

"I started a photography business in New Zealand and I was working with a lot of global brands so I was still travelling a lot,” Mr Pettigrew said.

"That's where I met Christy - it's a bit cliched but she was the model and I was photographing her.

"During that time I also started shooting TV commercials and then I got stuck into shooting a lot of music documentaries for Universal.

"Around my other ad work, I've just recently finished my own feature called The Death and Resurrection Show which is a documentary on the English post-punk industrial band The Killing Joke.

"It's a great music story with an unusual script, and great interviews with other musicians like Jimmy Page and Dave Grohl, that took about 12 years to film, and we were shooting in London and Glastonbury, Peru and the Czech Republic.

"It's been a long time in the works - we're literally starting to get DVDs and film screenings out now.”

After finishing his feature film project, Mr Pettigrew said he wanted to pursue another passion.

He said a kitchen garden at his Auckland home was a good escape from editing suites and dark rooms, spurring his interest in permaculture.

"Christy and I decided upon Dalveen because it's still close enough to Brisbane, where there's a fair bit of work for both of us,” Mr Pettigrew said.

"Plus there's a great community in Dalveen and Stanthorpe. I needed a bit of a break after finishing Death and Resurrection Show, and between filming, the garden helps keep me focussed.

"I've always been interested in organic farming and the holistic side of it, so it's been interesting to learn things as we build the business.

"I wouldn't mind doing another music film but it would have to be on my terms - there are some interesting documentaries to be made.

"At the moment I'm just going with the flow a bit, keeping it real at The Straw House.”



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