American Cinematographer Editor in Chief and Publisher Stephen Pizzello, along with AC contributing writer, Benjamin B moderated a panel which paid tribute to the late Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC. Also participating on the panel were Robert Yeoman, ASC; Jacek Laskus, ASC, PSC; Nancy Schreiber, ASC; Anthony Dod Mantle, ASC, BSC, DFF; and Dick Pope, BSC. The panel presented clips from Zsigmond’s films and offered their comments and analysis to a full house. Photo
Pizzello also provided an entertaining 10-minute introduction to Haskell Wexler’s film Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, sharing anecdotal stories to a capacity audience at the Opera Nova. One story in particular, illustrated by a photo projected onto the theater’s screen, had the audience in stitches: Shortly before Haskell’s passing, Pizzello and cinematographer Svetlana Cvetko visited his Santa Monica apartment to film a video tribute to Haskell’s lifelong friend Conrad Hall, ASC. Between shots, Pizzello noticed not two but three Academy Awards on a shelf: one for Bound for Glory and a pair for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? Puzzled, Pizzello asked why Haskell had an extra Oscar. “Oh,” Haskell replied casually, “one of the times when the FBI raided my apartment, the original Oscar for Virginia Woolf vanished. I thought those [expletives deleted] had stolen it, so I called the Academy and asked for a replacement. Months later, I found the original lying under a bookshelf, where it must have been misplaced.”
Pizzello says he always laughs at this memory, noting, “What cracked me up the most was the offhanded way Haskell described an FBI raid. He made it sound like a routine occurrence, as if the mailman had paid him a visit!”
December 11, 2016, Los Angeles, CA
Report from ASC/IMAGO conference held at Camerimage film festival
Based on the initiative from the ASC International Committee and IMAGO board, following up on the International Cinematographers Summit held at the ASC in June 2016 the first official ASC/IMAGO conference was organized at Opera Nova in Bydgoszcz, Poland on November 16, 2016 during the 24th Camerimage film festival.
The ASC was represented by John Toll, ASC; Roberto Schaefer, ASC AIC; Checco Varese, ASC AMC; Jacek Laskus, ASC PSC; and Suki Medenecvic, ASC SAS. IMAGO was represented by: Elen Lotman, ESC; Louis Philippe-Capelle, SBC (general secretary of IMAGO), Nigel Waters, BSC (vice president of BSC); Philippe Ros, AFC (IMAGO technical committee); and Michael Neubauer, BVK. Present in the audience were Paul Rene Roestad FNF, president of IMAGO, Nancy Schreiber, ASC and Peter James ASC ACS.
The opening statements were made by Elen Lotman, and Suki Medencevic. Opening the conference Elen Lotman gave a brief history of IMAGO organization and made a special emphasis on the growth of the organization into a global one, past the initial European territory. She reiterated an important point brought up during the first ASC international summit about the danger of extinction that our profession is facing in recent years. Collaboration with the ASC and strengthening our relationship thru the exchange of information, open dialogue and participation in the International Cinematographers Summits is a key for the strengthening and securing the future of our profession.
Suki Medencevic in his opening statement gave a brief history of the ASC and its mission to protect the artistry and integrity of cinematographer’s profession. In addition, he pointed out that in the recent years there has been an initiative at the ASC to open the communication with the world’s cinematographers’ societies. As a result, two International Cinematographer Summits were held at the ASC in the last 5 years. He also reinforced the idea that in the current global world of film production there is more than ever a need to have open communication and collaboration between the world’s cinematographers’ societies and the ASC in order to keep the control over our images.
The issue of creative control over the image was the first topic discussed among the panelists. Each participant shared his/her experience recognizing that this issue is the ongoing and most serious one, regardless of the level of production and the budget. It has been acknowledged and unanimously agreed that one of the most important ways to strengthen the creative control is in the knowledge and exchange of information. “The technology can work against us, anybody can in theory do the post, but only the cinematographer can ensure the visual and artistic quality of their work.” The ASC technology committee’s report was distributed among the guests.
Another important topics brought up and discussed among the panelists were issues of collaboration between camera manufactures and cinematographers, working conditions and issues of authorship and regaining respect for our profession. Suki Medencevic made a point about the importance of educating new generations of filmmakers in better understating what is the position of cinematographer in the creative process.
During the Q&A session several issues were discussed including the question about the diversity in our societies. Nancy Schreiber, ASC gave a very detailed answer about the recent event, “A Day of Inspiration for Women” and ASC efforts to reinforce diversity among our members. Peter James, ACS, ASC brought up the idea about creating the on line platform that will include a database of the ASC and IMAGO seminars and workshops accessible to the cinematographers community. All members of the audience praised ASC and IMAGO for organizing the conference and encouraging a productive dialogue among all cinematographers.
Q&A session went over the scheduled time slot which indicated how engaged everybody was. At the end Elen Lotman and Suki Mednecvic thanked all participants on the panel and the audience and promised that all questions raised and the suggestions made will be brought to the respective societies and included in their short and long-term agendas.
After the conference Suki had a several informal meetings with the colleagues from the different societies where he discussed some of the specific ideas. In the meeting with Paul Rene Roestad, (the president of IMAGO) he initiated the idea to organize the ASC / IMAGO still photography showcase that will be presented at the next Camerimage festival. Paul Rene agreed that this could be a good gesture to show our collaboration. Paul also suggested that ASC send the representative to the IMAGO Educational conference in Munich in March 2017.
In the meeting with Philippe Ros AFC (a chair of the IMAGO technology committee) another idea was initiated: to bring to the ASC the “VR The Champions” a 3D Queen in concert presentation that IMAGO made at Camerimage with a great success.
Suki had an opportunity to meet Nathelie Durand, a president of French Cinematographers Society and Richard Andry, AFC. Even though AFC is not a member of IMAGO they are very interested in collaboration with the ASC in the ways that can be mutually beneficial. No specific details have been discussed but there was a definitive interest to be included in ASC international programs and keep the communication open with the ASC.
The ASC/ IMAGO conference on international collaboration was received among all participants and guests as a very important event in building a bridge of support and unity. Respect for the ASC and its leadership role in our global cinematographers’ community by collaboration with IMAGO is just even more strengthened. Everybody’s desire is that it will continue and open a new era in our profession.
Suki Medencecvic, ASC, SAS
Chair of ASC International Committee