By Debra Kaufman
LOS ANGELES — Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC; Jonathan Freeman, ASC; John Lindley, ASC; and Peter Flinckenberg, FSC, received top honors in the four competitive categories at the 29th Annual ASC Awards last night. Lubezki won in the Theatrical Release category for Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance); Freeman won in the Episodic Television category for Boardwalk Empire; Lindley won in the Telefilm/MOW/Pilot category for Manhattan; and Flinckenberg won in the Spotlight category for the feature Concrete Night.
In accepting his award, Lubezki noted, “I want to share this with the cast and crew of Birdman, especially Steadicam operator Chris Haarhoff, [who] was able to walk very fast backwards, chased by Michael Keaton, and I think he only fell once; Gregor Tavenner, our focus puller, who made the impossible possible; and my friend, director Alejandro González Iñárritu, for his genius.” This was Lubezki’s second consecutive ASC Award; he won last year for Gravity.
This was also Freeman’s second consecutive ASC Award — he won last year for an episode of Game of Thrones — and his third ASC prize for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire. This year he won for the episode “Golden Days for Boys and Girls.” In accepting his award, Freeman said, “This is the highest honor that any cinematographer can receive, and my co-nominees are equally deserving to be up here tonight. I thank the Boardwalk family and my fantastic crew. In particular, we have a great leader with [executive producer] Tim Van Patten. HBO constantly supports us and believes in us; the fact that we were able to shoot five seasons on Kodak motion-picture stock attests to that.”
This was Lindley’s first ASC Award. “I’m very honored to get this award from this organization, whose members I’ve admired since I was old enough to spell ‘cinematographer,’” Lindley said. He thanked his crew, as well as “[director] Tommy Schlamme, who’s not afraid of the wide shot.”
This was Flinckenberg’s first ASC Award as well. After thanking the director, producers and gaffer on Concrete Night, the Finnish cinematographer noted, “I feel so deeply honored to receive this. I come from a cold country, and I really feel the warmth I’m receiving here.”
In accepting the evening’s first honorary award, the International Award, Phil Méheux, BSC, recalled that his first job in the industry was as a sales clerk in the distribution department at MGM British. “I remember the titles of the Pathé newsreels, which showed a man behind a camera … I wanted to be him. To be up here receiving this award is humbling.”
Matthew F. Leonetti, ASC, was honored with the Presidents Award. “I have the utmost respect for the ASC’s contribution to the progress of cinematography,” he said, noting that his family has been in the film business since 1934. “The industry challenges us to use all our skills in so many ways, often on the same film.” He thanked the companies and technical experts who devote resources to helping filmmakers and filmmaking become better and more efficient.
The Career Achievement in Television Award went to Bill Roe, ASC, whose credits include The X-Files and, most recently, seven seasons of Castle. “Throughout my 38 years in the camera department, I’ve worked with so many generous people, beginning with Owen Roizman [ASC], the first cinematographer I ever worked with and learned so much from,” said Roe. “Michael Chapman [ASC] is another — thank you for always reminding me you’re the best camera operator around!” He also thanked Victor J. Kemper, ASC, for promoting him to “my dream job” as camera operator, and series creators Chris Carter (The X-Files) and Andrew Marlowe (Castle) “for keeping me in Los Angeles for 12 years.”
Two Bud Stone Awards of Distinction, presented to an ASC associate for extraordinary service to the ASC or the industry, were given to long-time competitors and fast friends Denny Clairmont, president/cofounder of Clairmont Camera, and Otto Nemenz, founder/CEO of Otto Nemenz International. Both men were surprised by the honor, which was accompanied by a standing ovation. “I respect you,” said Nemenz to Clairmont, “but I can’t retire until you retire!”
In accepting the Board of Governors Award, filmmaker/actress Barbra Streisand said, “I was really so lucky because I got to work with some of the best cinematographers in the world.” She shared anecdotes about her collaborations with ASC members Harry Stradling Sr., Laszlo Kovacs, Gordon Willis, Robert Surtees and James Wong Howe, as well as David Watkin, BSC, who shot her directing debut, Yentl. “My favorite cameramen were the ones who never said, ‘No, it can’t be done,’” said Streisand. “Every director needs a partner to support his or her vision, and that, of course, is the cinematographer. Without that support, it’s a nightmare. With it, it’s a joy.”
John Bailey, ASC, received the Society’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “In an era of comic-book superheroes and tentpole movies, it’s hard to get human-themed non-action movies made,” Bailey noted, “and those are the kind I’ve been privileged to work on for over 40 years.” He recalled a few memorable experiences, including “being chased by a black rhino with only an Éclair NPR as a buffer, and searching for the Loch Ness Monster with Werner Herzog. And one unforgettable Friday evening, I [joined] a candlelit walk to honor Sarah Jones, who was taken from us a year ago this week.” Bailey expressed his “deepest gratitude” to Woody Omens, ASC, who encouraged him when he was a student. “And bless FotoKem, the last Hollywood film lab left standing. Bless them for believing that film matters.”
Approximately 1,600 filmmakers, industry experts and friends attended the event, which was held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza. The ceremony was hosted by Matthew Libatique, ASC, and Delphine Figueras, the ASC president’s assistant.
The May issue of American Cinematographer will feature a photo spread from ASC Awards weekend, including the Feb. 14 Open House.