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ASC Calls for Student Film Entries

Accepting applications for Annual Heritage Award Competition (August 27, 2004)

The American Society of Cinematographers is accepting applications for the ASC Charles B. Lang, Jr. Heritage Award. The Heritage Award is presented annually to one or more students enrolled at colleges and universities in the United States that offer film studies curriculums. Each year, the award is dedicated to the memory of a cinematographer who has made enduring contributions to advancing the art form. The student award(s) will presented at the 19th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards at the Century Plaza Hotel on February 20, 2005.

"This recognition is designed to encourage the next generation of cinematographers to pursue their dreams," says Laszlo Kovacs, ASC, who chairs the ASC Education Committee, which offers many outreach programs for young filmmakers. "It also celebrates the achievements of an extraordinary artist."

Applicants for the Charles B. Lang, Jr. Heritage Award must be in either their final year of film school or a recent graduate. Requirements include a recommendation by the dean, department head or a faculty member. The deadline for entries is November 1.

"All of the applications are judged by a jury of ASC members, who are looking for originality, and an ability to tell stories with moving images, which augment the performances of the actors and vision of the directors," Kovacs says.

Lang compiled over 100 narrative film credits and earned 18 Oscar nominations for cinematography during a career that spanned the transitions from silent movies to sound and from black-and-white to color images. He won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography in 1934 for A Farewell to Arms, which featured the fabled actress Helen Hayes.

Director Frank Borzage told Lang that it was important for Hayes to look irresistibly beautiful. The cinematographer created painterly images of the actress by using a combination of subtle back light on her hair, soft light on her face and custom-made glass diffusion on the camera lens. Lang ground the glass diffusion filters himself.

"I ground those disks myself until they were just right for the look I wanted," he explained in a 1986 interview. "It was very subtle work, but it made a big difference."

Lang was born in Bluff, Utah, in 1902. His family migrated to Los Angeles, where his father worked in the film lab at RealArt, one of Hollywood's first studios. Lang completed his high school education and was planning to study law when his father died in 1920. The youngster accepted a job at RealArt in order to help support his family.

"It was exciting and interesting," he recalled. "I worked very closely with the cinematographers there. I put the film into a rack and pushed it into a tank of chemicals. I would pull it out periodically to see if it was ready. Many times the cinematographer would be looking over my shoulder giving me their opinion."

During the early 1920s, when RealArt became part of Paramount Pictures, director William De Mille and L. Guy Wilky, one of the founders of ASC, made Lang an assistant cameraman. He worked with them for several years. Lang earned his first cinematography credit in 1926 for The Night Patrol. He was invited to join ASC in 1927.

"It was thrilling to be included in conversations with the world's best cinematographers talking about the art of making films," he said. "That was our main purpose."

Lang photographed Shopworn Angels, one of Hollywood's first "talkies" in 1929. He was under contract to Paramount Pictures from 1931 until 1951. Lang had fond memories of that period of his career, including the camaraderie between cinematographers on the lot.

"We'd have lunch together and share ideas," he said. "Photography was our life. We all had our own styles of lighting and using glass and gauze for diffusion. The public wanted idealized movie stars. They wanted heroic-looking men and beautiful women. My style was always to look through the lens and add light wherever it was needed. I learned to create a feeling of depth and how to model with light and shadows in black and white."

Lang's other Oscar nominations at Paramount were The Right to Love, Arise My Love, Sundown, So Proudly We Hail!, The Uninvited, The Ghost and Mrs. Muir and A Foreign Affair. The cinematographer felt that he did most of his best work after becoming a freelancer, because that gave him more freedom to choose projects. His subsequent Oscar nominations were for Sudden Fear, Sabrina, Queen Bee, Separate Tables, Some Like It Hot, The Facts of Life, One-Eyed Jacks, How the West Was Won, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice and Butterflies Are Free.

His other memorable credits include Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and Wait Until Dark. Lang shot his last film, 40 Carats, in 1973. He was honored by his peers in 1990, when he received the coveted ASC Lifetime Achievement Award recognizing his unique contributions to advancing the art and craft of cinematography.

When asked if he had advice to offer younger filmmakers, Lang responded, "A lot of people have natural talent. That's not enough. You've always got to strive to be better. I've seen many cinematographers who did ordinary work for years, and then suddenly they blossom and people ask, 'Say, where did that guy come from?' Usually the answer is hard work, plus an overwhelming desire to keep getting better. I'll tell you something about me. I was never really satisfied with my work. I always believed I could do better. If you don't believe that, you can never get better at anything you do."

Lang died on April 3, 1998, at the age of 96.

"Charles Lang was a talented artist who was dedicated to progress," says Kovacs. "He played a unique and important role in both the evolution of the art of cinematography and in the history of ASC. The recipient(s) of this year's Heritage Award should feel proud that it is dedicated to his memory, and find inspiration in his work and values."

The ASC was founded in 1919 and is dedicated to advancing the art and craft of cinematography. The ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards were inaugurated in 1987.

For an entry form, or more information, visit, or call 323-969-4333.


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Related Keywords:ASC, Annual Heritage Award Competition, Charles B. Lang, Jr. Heritage Award, Charles B. Lang, Jr., cinematographer, film, Laszlo Kovacs, film school, Frank Borzage, Paramount Pictures, L. Guy Wilky, William De Mille, American Society of Cinematographers,


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