LOS ANGELES — At the 26th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Awards held at the Hollywood & Highland Grand Ballroom, Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC spirited away the feature award for his ethereal and evocative cinematography for Tree of Life directed by Terrence Malick.
The thematically ambitious movie about life, love and the universe, was shot on film, but initially rejected a digital intermediate finish and had its live action footage conformed as cut negative. Displeased with the printed results, Lubezki persuaded Malick that making a DI would enable them to work in the full latitude of the stock.
Other winners were: Jonathan Freeman, ASC, HBO's Boardwalk Empire – 21 (one-hour television episodic); Michael Weaver, ASC, Showtime’s Californication – Suicide Solution (half-hour series); Martin Ruhe, PBS’s Page Eight (television motion picture/miniseries).
Richard Grudo, ASC VP was one of the main hosts of the event. In an earlier interview he noted that the most sobering milestone of the past year was the “death of film” punctuated by Kodak filing for bankruptcy. As cinematographers find themselves firmly in the digital age, Grudo was adamant about the urgency of finding ways to protect the look of an image from set to screen and resolve digital hardware compatibility issues. The role of cinematographer, he said, has been steadily increasing to include being an integral part of the digital intermediate process. Cinematographers must become as knowledgeable as possible about this technology and work towards becoming adequately compensated for this expanded role.
Oscar-nominee Matthew Libatique, ASC presented the ASC Board of Governors Award to Harrison Ford in recognition of his tremendous body of work and contributions to the art of filmmaking.
Oscar-nominated writer-producer-director Michael Mann presented the ASC Lifetime Achievement Award to Dante Spinotti, ASC, AIC. “What a story is and how that story should tell itself — making the flesh and blood and physical world of a motion picture be there — is what we all do,” said Mann. “How that world is illuminated, how the ambience and the mood, how light and dark and color are designed and realized to make us feel all that we feel, is what great cinematographers do, and Dante Spinotti is a great cinematographer. From his work, one image stuck in my mind. It was a night scene. He had this blue-green light coming through large windows. It suffused the room. It was a broad brush-stroke, a bold approach. The poetry of that particular choice, the emotions evoked, stayed with me. The man wielding this brush was the guy I wanted on Manhunter. I would have hired Dante off of that one shot alone.”
Spinotti, twice Oscar-nominated, has worked with Mann for 37 years and has more than 60 credits to his name, including Manhunter, The Insider, The Last of Mohicans and LA Confidential.
William Wages ASC received The Career Achievement in Television Award (Riders of the Purple Sage, Buffalo Soldiers) by actor/director Charles Haid whom he has worked with on multiple movies.
The ASC Presidents Award was given to Francis Kenny, ASC, by Justifed producer-director Michael Dinner. Kenny who is the DP for Justifed, had high praise for the show and the efficient workflow enabled by four Red Epic cameras, who’s small form factor enables them to achieve unique camera angles and coverage. Kenny, who is also part of the ASC membership committee, made an impassioned speech about the new members becoming engaged and involved with the organization.
Ralph Woolsey, ASC and Woody Omens ASC presented the Bud Stone Award of Distinction to Fred Godfrey.