Magazine article American Cinematographer

Close-Up: Frederic Goodich, ASC

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Close-Up: Frederic Goodich, ASC

Article excerpt

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?

Three in black-and-white: The Third Man, for its theme of best-friend betrayal, and for its aggressive and tactile lighting, deep shadows and silhouettes, backlit stone textures, the sewer-tunnel chase shots, the striking interplay of faces, and Orson Welles' insidious smile; Bicycle Thieves, for the empathy it generated over the father and son's dilemmas, the naturalness and simplicity of the images, and the irony of a seemingly tiny yet hugely significant family drama played out on indifferent city streets; and City Lights, for Chaplin's pathos and humor, his playfulness and gentle kindness, and his expressive body language.

Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?

Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC, HSC; Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC; Conrad L. Hall, ASC; Gianni Di Venanzo, AIC; Laszlo Kovacs, ASC.

What sparked your interest in photography?

As a child, I loved to draw. On occasion, I'd watch my older cousin process and print rolls of 35mm still film in the temporary darkroom he'd set up over his bathroom sink. One day I found myself shooting stills in my Bronx neighborhood just for the fun of it, using a 35mm Leica Ulf borrowed from a buddy in junior high school. I realized then that making photo images was a premier pleasure! Eventually, while at college, I found a job working in the Film Library at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, surrounded by prints and original negatives of films I'd seen and loved in theaters. Some of them were in bad shape. Handling them with care, shipping prints to schools and other museums, I'd incurred an enormous responsibility. I was hooked!

Where did you train and/or study?

On the job mostly, but initially at the Robert Flaherty Institute at the City College of New York, and later at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Who were your early teachers or mentors?

My grandmother Rose Schoenholz, and cinematographers Isidore Mankofsky, ASC; Haskell Wexler, ASC; and Jordan Cronenweth, ASC.

What are some of your key artistic influences?

Caravaggio, John Alton and Robert Krasker, BSC, for single-source lighting ideas; Henri Cartier-Bresson, for his 'decisive moments'; Mark Rothko, for his spiritual use of color.

How did you get your first break in the business? …

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