Magazine article American Cinematographer

Profile: A.S.C

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Profile: A.S.C

Article excerpt

(Editor's note: This is the second in a monthly series of articles, profiling distinguished members of the American Society of Cinematographers. )


The American Society of Cinematographers is comprised of men of many talents and backgrounds, from several different countries. From its inception, in 1919, the ASC has stressed excellence and integrity as the main ingredients for its distinguished membership, whether they demonstrated their skills in motion pictures or in television.

However, partly due to the worldwide scope of motion pictures plus the greater film budgets involved, the director of photography of a motion picture has received a much greater prominence than his counterpart in television. That situation is gradually changing, and with it is developing an increasing interestand share of the credit with the publicin the men who work in America's great television complex.

One such exponent of the TV camera skill is longtime ASC member William Margulies, a cameraman who learned his art in motion pictures but who has been active in television for more than a decade.

The latest count indicated that Margulies has photographed no less than 443 television shows. But that's only the shows he's recorded in his own work logs. He says there are probably many more.

A good portion of Margulies' work has been done at Universal, during an 11-year period. Such shows as "Run For Your Life", "Wagon Train", "Checkmate", "Paris 7000", and "Emergency", to mention but a few of the series he has photographically supervised.

Margulies' views on television, then, are worth noting. Especially since he feels the medium is no longer providing the kind of excellence which the ASC has long stressed.

"In the early days of television," he says, "it was possible to deliver a TV show for $15,000 to $20,000. We did our own commercials, then, too.

"The cameraman always stressed better photography-and he would generally get his way with the production company and with the director.

"But in recent years, things have really deteriorated. There are many more inexperienced people on the TV set, and one frequent result is bad lighting. It's a fact today that many producers and directors, because they are inexperienced, just don't know what they want-and they accept poor work."

Margulies also noted that cameramen used to be hired in TV for 32 shows at a time. Then the number dropped to 13. Now, he says, it's almost a case of show by show.

Nevertheless, the financial aspect is still good. Margulies believes all cameramen are better off today than they were 20 years ago, from a monetary stanetff. …

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