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American Society Of Cinematographers To Build Museum, Campus In Hollywood

Group develops comprehensive plan designed to help preserve the history and define the future of the art of filmmaking (October 19, 2001)
The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) unveiled a comprehensive plan designed to help preserve the history and define the future of the art of filmmaking. The initiative includes building a campus surrounding a museum at the site of the historic ASC clubhouse on the corner of North Orange Drive and Franklin Avenue. ASC will also establish an endowment fund as part of an ambitious program to nurture future filmmakers.

"We are committed to preserving the integrity of the history of our art form by establishing a museum that will be easily accessible to the public, scholars, students and filmmakers around the world," says ASC President Victor J. Kemper. "We will also build a state-of-the-art screening room and conference area in a campus-like setting where today’s and tomorrow’s filmmakers can discuss their work and share ideas for advancing the art form. The endowment fund will be used to assist talented young filmmakers who also will be mentored by our members. Our initiative will also benefit the Hollywood community by significantly improving the neighborhood."

Kemper says that the project will cost approximately $8 million, including the endowment fund. Donors have already pledged more than three and a half million dollars, including generous gifts from Eastman Kodak Company, Panavision, Technicolor, and the ASC Board of Governors.

"We thank our friends at these companies who have historically stood for progress and supported the goals of ASC and its members," Kemper says. "This initiative isn’t just for cinematographers. It is for all current and future filmmakers, and also for scholars and fans, who care about the future of our art form."

Kemper says ASC is in the early stages of organizing a broad-based campaign committee that will help guide plans for the building project and endowment fund.
"Steven Spielberg was among the first to accept our invitation to join the committee," says Kemper. "That is appropriate, because in 1993 Steven Spielberg was the first director to be honored for his contributions to the art form during the annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards. His vision of the future is very important to us."

The architectural firm of Goldman and Firth, in Malibu, California, consulted with various ASC members before designing plans for the campus.

Kemper says the organization has also discussed its plans with officers of the Hollywood Historical Society, the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce and other local organizations. ASC has already filed construction plans with the city of Los Angeles requesting building permits though no date has been set for breaking ground.

ASC is among the oldest existing organizations in the motion picture industry. It was founded during a meeting of 15 cinematographers at William C. Foster’s home in Los Angeles on December 21, 1918, while the film industry was still in its infancy. Movies were black and white and silent, and longer narrative films were just beginning to follow in the wake of the success of The Birth of a Nation.
"There were writers, directors, art directors, producers, set and costume designers before there were movies," says Kemper, "but cinematography was a totally new endeavor. Cinematographers were literally inventing a new language for telling stories with moving images. ASC provided an opportunity for them to meet and discuss ideas."

The organization was chartered by the state of California on January 9, 1919, for the purpose of advancing the art of narrative filmmaking. From the beginning, ASC membership has been by invitation based on the individual’s body of narrative film work. The organization grew to 130 members by 1930. There have been some 680 members over the years, including many of the industry’s defining artists. There have also been 315 associate members from ancillary sectors of the film industry, who were invited to join ASC based on their contributions to advancing the art of filmmaking. The current membership includes 235 cinematographers from approximately 20 different countries, and 106 associate members.

The ASC clubhouse was built approximately 100 years ago as a private residence in a new development called Hollywood. During the 1920s, Conway Tearle, a popular silent movie star, lived in the house. ASC acquired the building in 1936, and it subsequently became a meeting place for the industry’s most prominent cinematographers.

"Over the decades, many members and friends of ASC have donated cameras, letters, scripts, photographs and other memorabilia," Kemper says. "Our collection is unique and we expect it to grow. This museum will be a place where movie fans, historians, teachers, students, scholars and filmmakers can get in touch with the roots of this art form that has become so important to our culture."
In addition to the museum, the new buildings will contain some 15,000 square feet of space, including the screening room, conference area, and offices for the staffs of ASC and for American Cinematographer magazine. There will also be underground parking.

For additional details, visit the ASC website at

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