Michael Hollis & Mike Emmett, Class of 2017 & 1990

Two Michaels who missed each other at Luther by 25 years are back on campus together capturing the College’s stories through video and photography for the benefit of the community they value maybe even more today.

Michael Hollis Class of 2017

I remember Mike photographing productions and concerts I was in as a student at Luther. I knew his face and his work but never formally met him. Then, recently, we started popping up at the same school gigs. I was engaged to shoot video; the stills were his responsibility.

Naturally, as fellow creatives we compared notes and collaborated on our work. It seems Mike liked where I was coming from and what I was producing for Luther because when he recently needed some video work on a business shoot, he invited me along to capture some behind the scenes footage of his work as well as of the product he was shooting. It was soon clear we had the happy knack of complementing each other’s work.

It’s great working at Luther and with Mike while studying Film and TV at Swinburne. On-the-job experience is complementing what I’m learning and will be invaluable given the new direction I’m taking into film making.

While I’ve always had a passion for the performing arts – particularly acting – I’m finding that being behind the camera appeals even more for the scope it provides to create stories and influence people through them. Mike’s taught me how to shoot and light scenes, and how to change camera settings to achieve that all-important balance between presenting something authentically and with artistic flair. Taking this type of time and trouble to invest in someone starting out in the industry is incredibly generous.

Mike’s generous to Luther too. I’m pretty sure we invest in the College for similar reasons, but here’s mine: Luther’s been great to me and I love being part of the community. Coming back to make a contribution was a no brainer. Being part of Luther is like being part of a family.  The connection doesn’t end when you graduate.

When you’ve been grounded and comfortable somewhere you want to go back and be part of what makes the place special and pass that on to the next cohort of students.

I was welcomed back with open arms at Luther, when the opportunity came to offer the community my skills as a videographer. It felt like I’d never left. I had a huge advantage as a former student when it came to getting stuck into the work of showcasing events and the learning journey kids undertake at Luther. I get it because I’ve lived it. Working in the Performing Arts department, for example, is kind of effortless. Kate Amey directed the productions I was in at Luther, so I understand how she works. We get great results bouncing ideas off each other.

What’s interesting is that working at Luther doesn’t feel like work. It just flows and I guess you could say I’m in my element helping the school tell their stories in ways that work for today’s audience. It’s great that Luther’s increasingly about engaging the community through the immediate and compelling experience video provides for viewers. Both Mike and I know the impact of the right visuals – their power to give the audience next level involvement in a story. And we get that our audience is wired for quick communication. We have to face it – people’s attention spans are shrinking so it’s all about grabbing and capitalising on the seconds we’ve got to hook and engage.

Take that footage of Sebastian Reyneke (Class of 2019) breaking the school high jump record.  Mission accomplished in about thirty fabulous seconds. It’s priceless! And recorded for posterity.

The bottom line is this: a mentor and a quality human being like Mike doesn’t come into your life every day. I’m blessed that Luther brought us together, even if it took a quarter of a century.

Mike Emmett Class of 1990

The first thing I noticed about working with Michael was that it was easy. Our challenge is to capture the same story simultaneously, a Luther event of some sort, and to do so without getting in each other’s shots. We’ve developed a kind of synergy now, and we definitely respect each other for that special something that’s brought to the task.

At a recent reunion, we noticed some amazing light play. We were like, “Do you see that?” We both did. It was really exciting to be on the same page at the same time and to then take advantage of that light, using it to bring life to the images and footage we shot.

I’m the old dog and he’s the new pup in this game, if you like, but I’m loving what I’m learning from Michael. There’s a stillness and quietness about him that I really appreciate in someone

I’m working with. He’s also helped me notice things again, to find beauty in unexpected places and share it with my audiences.

I’m primarily a food photographer and food writer, shooting cook-books and magazines for publishers and, among other things, working with my business partner to produce content for One Hour Out (OHO) an online publication that inspires people to try food and wine-based experiences in regional areas out of Melbourne. There’s more and more demand for the storytelling to involve video so Michael’s my go to guy for that. I’m just hoping his availability doesn’t drop off any time soon as demand for his services grows. Like Luther, my clients love what he produces. Their national publication of his videography is a great endorsement of his work.

It’s great to have met a young person so hungry to learn the tricks of the trade and to be taking his study of film and TV so seriously; wanting to take it next level. It’s something you can’t help but be inspired by and want to encourage.

It’s also special to see Michael thriving in the context of offering back a gift that was nurtured through Luther’s performing arts and creative curriculum programs. I also attribute Luther with the creative and intellectual grounding that helped set me up for my life’s work. I arrived at Luther in Year 9, desperately needing a positive schooling experience and wasn’t disappointed.

A number of teachers made a lasting impression on me. Robert Mau was the photography teacher whose positive impact on me was profound. It was he who taught me to put a construct around the way I saw the world; to see it in terms of light and dark, tones, shapes and shadows. And then there was Greg Houghton, my VCE literature teacher. I loved his lessons and passion at the time, but honestly, I struggled as a student. A few years later when I was more mature, and totally got that the arts, reading and writing were important and something you could be passionate about, I knew my understanding was founded on Greg’s input and his own passion for the subject – it was there to draw upon.

I don’t do the type of work I do at Luther for anyone else – it’s beyond my niche really. So what inspires me? Well, I guess it boils down to being impressed with the school’s learning agenda; their cutting-edge approach to providing a strong, relevant, values-based education that sets kids up for success – and wanting to share that with the wider community. It’s certainly why we built on the Luther tradition by sending our son there.

I’m with Michael when it comes to appreciating the positive connection you experience as part of the Luther community. What’s not to love about that?