Tuesday, July 17, 2018
  • Monday, Sep. 25, 2017
Turning 21: Emerging Cinematographer Awards Honor 8 Aspiring DPs
ICG president Steven Poster, ASC, from left, ECA winner Jen Schneider, and guest speaker and Emmy-nominated actor Alfred Molina.
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”Nurturing talent” and providing the work of aspiring DPs with “the crucial exposure they need” are at the very heart of the Emerging Cinematographer Awards (ECA), said Steven Poster, ASC, president of the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG), IATSE Local 600, during his opening remarks at the ECA presentation and screening at the DGA Theater in Los Angeles on Sunday (9/24).

Marking its 21st year, the ECA competition has come of age, drawing another capacity crowd to the DGA venue and set to go on tour with screenings and award ceremonies at the SVA Theatre in New York City on October 29, at SCADshow in Atlanta on November 5 and at The Logan Theatre in Chicago on November 12.

The 2017 installment of the ECA honors eight promising cinematographers. The competition is open to any ICG member who is not already classified as a DP. Members can submit films they have lensed with a running time of 30 minutes or less.

ECA recipients over the years have gone on to establish themselves in the industry. Among the many examples are Tod Campbell who is now DP on Mr. Robot (USA Network), Todd Dos Reis who has lensed episodes of Longmire (Netflix) and Crazy Ex Girlfriend (The CW), and Tim Bellen who has shot episodes of Veep (HBO).

The 2017 class of ECA honorees consists of:

  • David Auerbach, 1st assistant camera, for shooting Red Lopez, a western directed by Stephen Frandsen and Hadleigh Arnst.
  • George Billinger, operator, who lensed The Gate, a martial arts action drama directed by Kellie Madison.
  • Kristen Correll, 2nd assistant camera, for La Sirena. a psychosexual fairy tale directed by Rosita Lama Muvdi.
  • Daniel Friedberg, 2nd assistant camera, for LoveBird, a whimsical later-life romance directed by Parvaneh Mireille.
  • Michael Lockridge, operator, for (le) Rebound, a carnal comedy directed by Laura Beckner.
  • Jeff Powers, operator, for Will Wilson, a psychological thriller directed by David Herman.
  • Roham Rahmanian, digital imaging technician, for Break the Will, a dark side tale of an Amish family directed by Jonathan Siebel.
  • And Jenna Schneider, operator, for Unbound, allegorical short film set in turn of the century Japan and directed by Maggie Mahrt.

Another milestone
As ECA turns 21, director and DP Jim Matlosz is celebrating a milestone of his own--10 years as chairman of the ICG’s ECA committee. Following Poster at the DGA Theater podium, Matlosz noted that ECA winners’ work resonates due in large part to their ability to collaborate with directors, producers, writers and other artisans. Matlosz affirmed that the industry too is stronger when these different artists and communities come together.

Alfred Molina served as a guest speaker for the ECA ceremony. The actor--who recently earned his second career Emmy nomination for his portrayal of director Robert Aldrich in Ryan Murphy’s Feud: Bette and Joan--briefly addressed the DGA Theater audience, discussing his admiration for cinematographers. Originally a live theater actor, Molina made his first foray into movies with Steven Spielberg’s Raiders of the Lost Ark. Molina recalled Douglas Slocombe, OBE, BSC, ASC, the DP who earned his third career Best Cinematography Oscar nomination for that film, being “reduced” to having to explain to him “what a mark was.” Molina smiled that he didn’t know about hitting marks. The actor paraphrased the delicacy with which the now late Slocombe explained the importance of that to him: “We really love what you’re doing. Would love it to be nice, sharp and in focus. This way the audience can enjoy it as well.”

Molina noted that cinematographers have gone on to teach him much more and that he always approaches the DP first to get the proper handle on what a project is about and how it will be done. Molina marveled that the DP has to be adept at realizing the director’s vision while properly marrying that vision to constantly changing technology.

Molina cited director/producer/writer John Boorman, a five-time Oscar nominee (including nods for Best Director on Deliverance and Hope and Glory), who observed that the cinematographer has the precious “skill of turning money into light.”

Getting work
Besides showcasing work, the ECA proceedings provided practical advice about getting work, how to market yourself, and connecting with the right agent and support people. The day prior to the DGA Theater screening, the eight ECA winners gathered at ICG headquarters in Hollywood to gain expertise from a trio of cinematographer agents: Erin Searcy and Trevor Kossack of Worldwide Production Agency (WPA); and Craig Mizrahi of Innovative Artists

Poster was on hand for the session which he described to SHOOT as an extensive roundtable discussion with ECA honorees having their concerns and questions directly addressed by agents. “It’s career advice they couldn’t get anywhere else,” said Poster, adding that the meeting had an esprit de corps akin to that enjoyed by cinematographers across the spectrum, from the least experienced to the most accomplished. “We’re all colleagues,” affirmed Poster, noting that cinematographers are part of a community unlike any other. “We hang out together, help each other, will cover for each other.” 

Introducing aspiring DPs into this community, concluded Poster, is a big part of what the ECA competition is all about.

Honorary Awards
ECA weekend actually kicked off on Friday (9/23) with the ICG’s presentation of Honorary Awards at the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood, Calif. The Academy Color Encoding System (ACES), Stephen Pizzello and Bill Bennett, ASC were the recipients. 

The Canon Award for Advancement in Technology was presented to the Academy Color Encoding System (ACES) and was accepted by Annie Chang, VP Technology for Marvel Studios and chair of the ACES committee for the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) Science and Technology Council. From image capture through editing and VFX, and from archiving and future remastering, ACES is becoming the industry standard for digital file interchange, color management, and archiving for motion pictures and television.

Editor in chief and publisher of the American Cinematographer magazine, Stephen Pizzello was awarded the Technicolor William A. Fraker Award for his journalistic contribution for covering the film and television industry from the perspective of cinematography. 

And Bill Bennett ASC, was presented with the ASC Cinematography Mentor of the Year Award. Bennett is known for his breakthrough lensing of national TV commercials, particularly for  major automotive advertisers, and has mentored many cinematographers who are currently shooting spots and branded content.