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ASC Awards: Cinematographers Honor Their Peers

Annual awards ceremony is an intimate party for 1,600 By Frank Moldstad

Prior to the ceremony, there was a major schmoozefest.
Every year since 1987, the camera lens has turned around to focus on cinematographers at the annual American Society of Cinematographers Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony. This years 20th anniversary event on Feb. 26 paid tribute to cinematographers whose work spans more than five decades of film and television, from Lifetime Achievement Award winner Richard Kline, ASC, (The Andromeda Strain, Body Heat) to Dion Beebe, ASC, ACS (Memoirs of a Geisha).

Held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles, the awards ceremony drew a crowd of 1,600 people, including a big portion of the ASCs 400-plus members and associates, in addition to studio executives, directors, editors and actors. As the ASC Presidents Award winner Woody Omens quipped, ?There are 1,600 people here, but I still think its an intimate party. Thats because were not televising it to 60 million people.

But another reason for the fraternal atmosphere is that ASC membership is by invitation only, a tradition that goes back to the organizations founding in 1919 ?to advance the art of cinematography through artistry and technological progress, to exchange ideas and to cement a closer relationship among cinematographers. Members still refer to ASC headquarters as the Clubhouse, and actively pursue a variety of educational, cultural and professional endeavors.


As one of the oldest continuously operating organizations in the film business, the ASC maintains relations with everyone from industry pioneers to rising talents, and acknowledges them all. In kicking off the ceremonies, ASC president Richard Crudo hailed the presence of 92-year-old Harry Redmond, Jr., who worked on special effects for the original 1933 King Kong with his father, Harry Redmond, Sr.

Richard Kline
But one of the most remarkable examples of continuity is the family history of Richard Kline, ASC, this years Lifetime Achievement Award winner. Kline noted that he is a fourth-generation ASC member, extending back to his uncle, cameraman Philip Rosen, who was a founding member of the organization in 1919. Klines father, Benjamin, was also a member, as was another uncle, Sol Halperin.

Klines award was presented by William Fraker, ASC, for his ?extraordinary body of work, which includes 46 feature films. Among them are Camelot (1968), The Andromeda Strain (1971), Soylent Green (1973), King Kong (1976), The Competition (1980), Body Heat (1981), Breathless (1983) and All of Me (1984). Kline attributed his success to luck and the fact that his parents met on the Universal lot. ?I am also lucky to have survived studio catering, he said, adding somewhat unconvincingly that its not that the food was bad, but it was served in prodigious quantities.

Other cinematographers honored for their illustrious careers were Gilbert Taylor, BSC, Woody Omens, ASC and Frederick Wiseman. Awards for contemporary film and television work were given to Dion Beebe, ASC, Robbie Greenberg, ASC, and Nathan Hope. In addition, producer/director Sydney Pollack received the only award not given to a cinematographer, the ASC Board of Governors Award.

Woody Omens
Omens, whose ASC Presidents Award was presented by Doe Mayer, chair of USCs Film and Production program, was cited for his accomplishments as both a cinematographer and an educator. His  credits range widely across film and television, including features such as History of the World: Part I (1981), Coming to America (1988) and Harlem Nights (1989), telefilms such as Ishi: Last of His Tribe (1978), Heart of the City (1987) and I Saw What You Did (1988), and the pilot episode of the series ''Magnum P.I.'' (1980). But in 1967, he began teaching part-time at USC, where he is now a full-time member of the faculty -- one of the best theyve ever had, according to Mayer. Among his former students is George Lucas. Omens is former ASC president, and co-founded the ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards in 1986 with Michael Margulies. 

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Related Keywords:ASC, American Society of Cinematographers, Awards, Cinematographers, DP, Richard Kline, Gilbert Taylor, BSC, Woody Omens, Frederick Wiseman, Dion Beebe, Robbie Greenberg, Nathan Hope

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