Magazine article American Cinematographer

Historic First: The A.S.C. Award

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Historic First: The A.S.C. Award

Article excerpt

THE OLDEST ORGANIZATION of its kind in the world - the American Society of Cinematographers - has never bestowed awards for professional cinematography. That is, until now.

On February 2.8, 1987, at the A.S.C. Clubhouse in Hollywood, the first cinematographer to be acclaimed by this venerable organization will receive an award of distinction from among five finalists.

"We are delighted," ASC President Stanley Cortez said, "to inaugurate the 1986 ASC annual awards for photographic excellence. Our directors of photography are most deserving of this prestigious tribute."

Those eligible to receive the nod must be directors of photography on a feature-length motion picture which shall have been shown in a commercial theater in the greater Los Angeles area during 1986. The feature must be in the 35mm or yomm format and exhibited for paid admission. It must be on view before midnight, December 31.

A list of all eligible pictures will be available to active and active retired members of the Society, who will vote in the order of preference for not more than ten films. These ballots will then be screened by a selection committee to determine the five entries which will appear on a final ballot.

This first year of nominations will pertain only to theatrical releases. Plans are being made for television awards in the future.

The award itself will be a crystalline square prism eight inches in height, surrounding a camera and tripod of antiqued gold. The camera replica will be suspended above a gold facsimile of the A.S.C. logo, which in turn is suspended above the black base. (see illustration.)

According to Michael Margulies, chairman of the awards committee, "We just thought the time had come for cinematographers to honor cincmatographers. Since we are cinematographers, we feel eminently qualified to separate the difficult, the exquisite from the ordinary and to vote accordingly.

"We are 67 years old, a very prestigious, world-renowned Society, and we should do what we can to maintain the camaraderie and dignity we all enjoy. Awards for excellence are a means of sealing the bonds of our craft."

Other members who helped to move the idea from beginning stages to fruition expressed similar sentiments. "It's about time," says Harry Wolf, former A.S.C. president and a member of the awards committee. "Other groups recognize their peers. We should also, and who better to judge cinematography than cinematographers?"

"It is hoped that this award will increase general public awareness of the significance of the visual language which is the heart of the motion picture," said Sherwood Woody Omens, whose own achievements in cinematography are not to be taken lightly. He has been nominated for Emmys five times and this year won the statue for his work on "An Early Frost," a special television feature.

The American Society of Cinematographers was formed as an honorary society in 1918 with an official charter issued in January of 1919. The purpose was "to advance the art of cinematography through artistry and technological progress, to exchange ideas and to cement a closer relationship among cinematographers . . ."

It was the outgrowth of two clubs organized in 1913 during the time of the motion picture patent "wars," the Cinema Camera Club in New York City and the Static Club in Los Angeles. Three cameramen from the Thomas A. Edison Studio in the Bronx, Phil Rosen, Frank Kugler and Lewis W. Physioc each earned $18 a week. They got no screen credit or other artistic recognition. They figured that if cameramen formed a fraternity they could establish professional standards and achieve some sort of recognition as creative artists. …

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