Director of Photography

Director of Photography Steven Oatley
Steven Oatley of Axis Films on the first day of shooting Voices of a Never Ending Dawn in a Northern , Michigan snowstorm that lasted for 4 full days.

When Producer/Director Pamela Peak realized the challenges she would be facing when shooting video in sub-zero temperatures and blizzard conditions for the many battle scene re-enactments for Voices of a Never Ending Dawn, she immediately thought of the expertise and perseverance of Videographer Steven Oatley from Oak Park, MI. 

Peak had met Steven Oatley when he worked on her award-winning PBS film Colorblind in 2004. “His work was impeccable,” said Peak.  “He knew his stuff in every way and he was tremendous to work with." 

"He is a videographer with integrity for his work. We were facing blizzard conditions in northern Michigan for four straight days, unable to even re-wind our tapes on the set due to the sub-zero temperatures. I knew I could count on Steve to “get the shot” hour after hour and day after day." 

"Steve stood with me in those blizzard conditions, capturing every emotional moment that makes Voices of a Never Ending Dawn the film it became."

"I wanted to take our audiences on the journey and through the challenges these young men faced. With his talent, skill and caring Steve Oatley helped me do just that.”

Steven Oatley capturing a high action shot in the snowy trenches
Steven Oatley capturing a high action shot in the snowy trenches of Northern, Michigan during one of many dramatic re-enactment scenes seen in
Voices of a Never Ending Dawn

Steven Oatley is CEO and President of AXIS Films of Oak Park, Michigan.  AXIS Films is an award winning video production, post-production company that produces all kinds of Media for a variety of television, industrial, educational and business clients. Steve has over fifteen years of experience producing and directing film, television, and still photography projects.

He has taught Cinematography at Michigan’s First Film School. Oatley was instrumental in the early creation of their curriculum.  Oatley is also a guest lecturer at his Alma Mater, teaching classes in Lighting and Video Production.  Oatley has been a member of I.A.T.S.E. Local 600 union, which represents the Camera Department, for nine years.


On the set during the emotional Battle of Pinega
On the set during the emotional Battle of Pinega


Special camera precautions
Steven Oatley
Director of Photography

The film was shot in a very deep valley, and all equipment for the video shoot had to be brought in and out of the shooting locations each day by snowmobile. Special measures were required to keep the 8 actors and 22 reenactors, as well as the technical crew, from experiencing frostbite in the subzero weather. During the fall, a warming house had been prepared on location for the winter shooting.

Because of Oatley's knowledge and planning for equipment handling, over the five-day period during which the reenactment shots were filmed, Peak and Oatley experienced no major equipment problems.

Special precautions were taken to ensure that shooting could be accomplished during all conditions. Due to the sub-zero temperatures cameras had to be enclosed in a warming jacket. With snow falling at the rate of one inch per hour, cloth coverings were required to keep the cameras dry.

On the last day, after four days of non-stop driving snow, a small amount of frost accumulated on the camera lens. Oatley promptly switched to the backup camera, and filming was able to continue uninterrupted.

A further constraint on the filming was the fact that many scenes had to be shot in pristine snow. Thus there could be no rehearsing on the snow-covered terrain, meaning that there would be one chance—and one chance only—to capture the scenes on film. Camera positioning and technical settings had to be right the first time, and as Peak expected, Oatley's skill enabled every shot to be taken exactly according to planning and direction.