Magazine article American Cinematographer

Close-Up: Cort Fey, ASC

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Close-Up: Cort Fey, ASC

Article excerpt

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

I am firmly of the Star Wars generation. I was 7 years old when we spent half the day standing in a line around the block. Everybody was excited - it was an event! The communal excitement and joy of that experience has always stayed with me.

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

As a teen, I watched vintage Seventies movies like Klute, The Parallax View, All the President's Men and The Godfather, all photographed by Gordon Willis [ASC], and I loved the look. I still find his style strikingly modern and so interesting. The cinematographers today that make 'perfect' seem so easy - [ASC members] Robert Elswit, Roger Deakins and Emmanuel Lubezki.

What sparked your interest in photography?

I grew up in Seattle, where my father was an editor and cameraman. I'd tag along on his jobs and watch the camera crew in action. Occasionally, I'd score a tiny on-screen role - my first gig was a milk commercial when I was 6. In seventh grade, I started taking photos and loved the combination of technique and creativity.

Where did you train and/or study?

I majored in history at the University of Pennsylvania, where I was photo editor for The Daily Pennsylvanian. After that, I worked alongside my father in Seattle as a production assistant, loader and second camera assistant. A year later, I attended the graduate film program at USC.

Who were your early teachers or mentors?

The Daily Pennsylvanian had a professional and award-winning photo department, and most of the learning involved senior photographers teaching the younger ones how to shoot. At USC, I was a student of Robert Estrin, ACE, and later his teaching assistant. Bob was a fantastic editor who taught me a lot about the musicality of storytelling and how important rhythm is to individual shots as well as whole sequences.

What are some of your key artistic influences?

I love how street photography can create so much drama from the mundane world that swirls around us all day. They create compositions that focus attention or build drama - all in a moment. My favorites: Saul Leiter, Vivian Maier and Robert Frank.

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

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