Leroy Button's career takes flight – Inside Film

IF Magazine
For screen content professionals
Leroy Button’s career so far is an example of using every opportunity to its fullest.
Button manages the Gold Coast office of aerial cinematography company XM2 Pursuit, and is a camera operator, drone technician and co-ordinator.
Currently working on Irreverent and Young Rock season 2, Button has quickly built an impressive credit list over a short career, including Mission: Impossible 7, Thirteen Lives, Fast & Furious 9, Godzilla vs. Kong, Love and Monsters, Westworld, Dora and the Lost City of Gold and Aquaman.
The young gun’s journey took off just five years ago at Cairns’ Understory Film Festival, where he won Best High School Student Film and the People’s Choice Award for short Sense. The positive feedback made him realise: This could be a career.
“After winning those awards, I kept making films. I made some good films and I made some bad films, but at the end of the day… I found my passion,” he tells IF.
After finishing school, Button studied at the Gold Coast’s New York Film Academy, where a work experience day took him to Panavision’s Queensland office.
During break, all the other students went out to grab food. However, Button had brought along lunch from home, so he instead sat with Panavision’s Pat Auge and Brian Flexmore. There, he got to ask all his burning questions, namely: How do you get into the industry?
The answer, it seems, might just be in showing enthusiasm. Auge responded to Button’s eagerness by later calling his cinematography teacher to offer him a further week’s work experience.
From there, Button was taken on part-time at Panavision as a camera technician. It was starting from the bottom – the hiring and cleaning of equipment – but it was an ‘in’ while still studying.
His first feature credit came when the company needed an extra pair of hands on Aquaman, working as a loader/camera PA.
“I got thrown right into the deep end early on. I got to learn from Australia’s best. The boys in the camera department took me in and I basically became a sponge; just absorbed everything that they told me,” he says.
“I tried to keep my head down and bum up, and work as hard as I possibly could to impress them, and try and do the right thing. I was very fresh. I was very green. I didn’t know much, but I just wanted to be in the industry and that was my chance. So I took it and ran with it.”
It paid off, with Button going on to more large scale feature work. At the same time, XM2 Pursuit came to Queensland to set up shop. Panavision pushed Button forward, and after some work experience on Dora, XM2 Pursuit asked him to manage their local office.
Button is passionate about aerial cinematography and drone work, as the technology is changing quickly, “just getting better and better”.
“Working in aerial videography and cinematography is really awesome because you can create some absolutely epic shots; sometimes the opening sequence or the closing sequence to a film. That’s the really exciting part of it, is that we’re a unique, specialised unit on set,” he says.
On his most recent large project, Mission: Impossible 7, Button was a camera operator and managed an array in the VFX department, while on Thirteen Lives, he was first assistant camera, working with heavy lift drones and doing some photogrammetry and VFX work.
Being a camera operator has been Button’s goal since he was a teenager, and he is keen to refine his skills. Ultimately he would like move into become a main unit camera operator and he is also interested in becoming a Steadicam operator – “a perfectionists’ tool”.
“I want to be the guy that people go, ‘Oh yeah, Leroy Button. He’s good. Get him on set.’”
The Cairns Understory Film Festival runs this weekend.
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