UPDATED WITH FULL LIST OF WINNERS: Gravity director of photography Emmanuel Lubezki won the Feature Film honor tonight at the 28th Annual American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Awards. “The movie could not be shot in space, so big parts were shot in the computer and were part of creating these images and that’s something I’ve never done before,” he told Deadline. “I think it’s something we’re going to see more of.” Lubezki previously won ASC Awards for The Tree Of Life (2012) and Children Of Men (2007), and was also nominated in 2000 for Sleepy Hollow. Lubezki was one of five ASC nominees who also received Oscar nods this year and the win certainly gives him a boost.
But before next month’s Oscars, Lubezki will dive into his next project – in fact, he’s starting in a matter of hours. “I’m doing almost the opposite [of Gravity],” he told me minutes after his ASC win. “At 4 AM I have to drive to the desert because I start a movie with my friend Rodrigo Garcia with Ewan McGregor. It’s a tiny little beautiful, extraordinary script that Rodrigo wrote that we’re going to shoot for five weeks.” Lubezki told me he likes shooting both film and digital but will be using the Arri Alexa on the Garcia picture. “I wish I could do the movie in 65mm, but we cannot afford it!”
The touchy subject of the industry’s transition from film to digital emerged a few times during tonight’s awards dinner at the Dolby Ballroom in Hollywood. First, the night’s opening montage reel pointedly began with a clip from Boogie Nights in which Jack Horner (Burt Reynolds) passionately declares his loyalty to celluloid (“I’m a filmmaker, which is why I will never make a movie on tape”). Later, presenter John Carpenter made a sly dig at the digital future. (More from Carpenter below.)
On the TV side, Jeremy Benning, CSC, took the TV Movie/Miniseries win for National Geographic Channel’s Killing Lincoln; the One-Hour Episodic Television Series nod went to Jonathan Freeman, ASC for HBO’s Game of Thrones (“Valar Dohaeris”) and Half-Hour Episodic Series went to Blake McClure for Comedy Central’s Drunk History (“Detroit”). This was McClure and Benning’s first ASC nomination and Freeman’s fourth ASC Award. Freeman’s other wins were for Boardwalk Empire (2012, 2011) and Homeland Security in (2005). He has also earned ASC noms for Taken (2003), Strange Justice (2000) and Prince Street (1998).
Other honorary awards were presented to Richard Rawlings Jr., Career Achievement in Television Award; Eduardo Serra, AFC, ASC, International Achievement Award; Dean Cundey, ASC, Lifetime Achievement Award; and John Wells, Board of Governors Award. Wells rattled off a list of thank yous to attending DPs in the room he’s worked with. “Thank you for bringing my dreams and vivid imaginings to life,” he said, adding recognition to the crew and craftsmen who make his job possible, “true artists laboring in relative obscurity…”
ASC’s Bill Bennett kicked off the night with a best-of film and TV reel featuring some of the greatest cinema moments of all time. No wonder that every reel played throughout the night was excellently cut and played very well to the audience of DPs. The biggest reaction by far came with an extraordinarily funny supercut of obscure cinematographer cameos in famous films, which had the crowd roaring as they recognized their own in front of the camera instead of behind it. The capper? Rodrigo Prieto’s brief appearance in Brokeback Mountain in which he shares an encounter with Jake Gyllenhaal.
28th Annual American Society of Cinematographers Awards
Emmanuel Lubezki, ASC, AMC
“It means a lot to me that my peers like the work and people that I admire and have followed for so many years, who have been my teachers for so long, like my work,” Lubezki told Deadline minutes after his win, ASC Award in hand. His digital cinematography on Gravity was achieved in collaboration with a team of VFX artists and Technicolor’s digital colorist team, whom he thanked onstage. “It’s a new technique, a new way for cinematographers and visual effects persons to translate the ideas of the directors into something that people can go see in theaters.”
Accepting the award from presenter Caleb Deschanel, Lubezki thanked the society “for being an inspiration all my life”. He shared the honor with Gravity‘s cast and crew and director Alfonso Cuaron and thanked their VFX partners, WB and exec Chris DeFaria “for making the movie” – a greater feat than usual on the challenging effects heavy pic – and Gravity‘s colorist team “who helped me put together the film’s virtual cinematography.”
Lifetime Achievement Award
Dean Cundey, ASC (previously announced)
Dean Cundey, introduced by friend and five time collaborator John Carpenter, earned a standing ovation as he took the stage, and another at the end of a stirring speech acknowledging his 50-year love affair with film, 28-year membership in the ASC, and his marriage to his wife whom he met on set: “I thank that unreleased TV pilot frequently.”
Cundey first collaborated with Carpenter on Halloween (1978) and they continued to work together on such films as The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing, Halloween II and III, and Big Trouble in Little China. If a great roasting is any indication of a long and true friendship, Carpenter’s intro of his longtime friend and collaborator spoke volumes – and had the room of 1,500 in stitches:
“I first became aware of the name ‘Dean Cundey’ when I was a film student. I saw a student film he shot. It was a black and white widescreen Western. The story didn’t make any sense, but the images were beautiful. Thus the pattern of Dean’s career was first established.
I first met Dean almost ten years later. My producing partner Debra Hill introduced us. She told me he and I should work together. I asked, is that because he studied lighting techniques under the great James Wong Howe? She said, ‘No. It’s because he owns his own lights.’ Dean owned the lightyear of movie vans, chock full of lights and ready to go. An indispensable tool for low-budget filmmaking in the 1970s. On the set of Halloween, our first movie together, I heard rumors that most of the lights in the moving van were stolen… but that was never proven.
Dean and I made five movies together and around the second or third movie I realized Dean had a disease that affects many cameraman. LMOD – Light Meter Obsessiveness Disorder… lest I demonstrate the severity of the illness, directors of photography like Dean routinely wear the light meters on their bodies. Others designate an acolyte who carries the holy light meter in their outstretched hands. It’s a sad situation indeed. Perhaps the digital age will solve all of this.”
Cundey earned Oscar and BAFTA nominations for his work on Robert Zemeckis’ Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988). Zemeckis and Cundey also teamed up on the Back to the Future trilogy, Romancing the Stone, and Death Becomes Her. Cundey received his first ASC nomination for Steven Spielberg’s Hook (1991), and a second one for Ron Howard’s Apollo 13 (1995). He also earned the Society of Operating Cameraman’s President’s Award in 1999. Cundey’s credits also include films Jurassic Park, What Women Want, Garfield, The Holiday, The Spy Next Door, Jack and Jill, Crazy Kind of Love, and the upcoming releases Walking with the Enemy and Carry Me Home.
He accepted his lifetime honors with a thank you to Carpenter “for being the first director I worked with who actually wanted to use the camera for visual storytelling and not just to record partially-clad women with machine guns…though that’s not necessarily a bad thing.” Cundey spoke of being enamored by cinema as a child: “I was more intrigued by the ‘how’d they do that?’ illusion… I decided somehow, I need to do that.” He began voraciously reading lenser bible American Cinematographer in high school. Film, he described, became his “passport” to “places in the world not everyone gets to visit.”
“We, by virtue of this wonderful business that combines art and science in the service of human emotion, we are fortunate to leave behind us footprints that last.”
Jeremy Benning, CSC
National Geographic Channel’s Killing Lincoln
Presenter Debbie Allen prefaced the award with a note to the ASC: “For the women, a note – honey do something about that hi def, it’s evil!”
TELEVISION EPISODIC SERIES (ONE HOUR)
Jonathan Freeman, ASC
HBO’s Game of Thrones (“Valar Dohaeris”)
Actress Niecy Nash presented the award to the absent Freeman, who is filming on location.
TELEVISION EPISODIC SERIES (HALF HOUR)
Comedy Central’s Drunk History (“Detroit”)
Former Charlie’s Angel Cheryl Ladd came onstage to present to Drunk History‘s Blake McClure who joked “I shot a show called Drunk History so I’m a little drunk right now,” before thanking his crew and the show’s producers.
This is McClure’s first ASC nomination.
Career Achievement in Television Award
Richard Rawlings Jr. (previously announced)
Ladd stayed onstage to present to old Charlie’s Angels pal Richard Rawlings, who was introduced by colleagues Michael O’Shea, ASC and John C Flinn III, ASC.
“This talented man worked his ass off for four years to make me look good,” said Ladd before an emotional Rawlings accepted his award. “This is our honor, not just mine,” the second generation cinematographer told the ASC crowd, also thanking “my lifetime mentor, my dad.”
Rawlings’ other credits include Matt Houston, Stingray, L.A. Law, Boston Public, Gilmore Girls and Desperate Housewives, among others. Rawlings telefilm credits include Halley’s Comet, Spring Awakening and Gidget’s Summer Reunion. He has earned Emmy noms for the series Ohara (1987), Paradise (1988), Reasonable Doubts (1991), and the TV movie Big Dreams & Broken Hearts: The Dottie West Story (1995). Rawlings also earned an ASC Outstanding Achievement Award for Paradise in 1989, and another nomination for the series in 1990. In 1993, he received his third ASC Award nomination for the telefilm When No One Would Listen.
ASC Bud Stone Award of Distinction
ASC president Richard Crudo presented the Bud Stone Award of Distinction to Beverly Wood for her work with the ASC. “You DPs, I love you all and I do what I can to make you feel you’re the only one who matters to me.”
International Achievement Award
Eduardo Serra, AFC, ASC (previously announced)
“No one is as promiscuous as a cinematographer,” quipped director Ed Zwick introducing ASC International Award honoree Eduardo Serra, ASC. “Each relationship…is a milestone in his art.”
“His images serve the story but never become the story,” said Zwick who accepted the award on behalf of Serra.
Serra earned his first Oscar nomination for Iain Softley’s The Wings of the Dove (1997), which also netted him a BAFTA Award. In 2004, he received Oscar and BAFTA nominations for Peter Webber’s Girl With The Pearl Earring. Serra has over 50 feature films to his credit, including A Promise, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 and Part 2, Blood Diamond, Beyond the Sea, Unbreakable, and The Widow of Saint-Pierre.
Board of Governors Award
John Wells (previously announced)
Margo Martindale presented her August: Osage County director John Wells with the ASC Board of Governors Award. He ascended the stage to the theme song from ER, one of his many credits that played in an impressive career reel.
Wells immediately rattled off a list of thank yous to attending DPs in the room he’s worked with. “Thank you for bringing my dreams and vivid imaginings to life,” he said, adding recognition to the crew and craftsmen who make his job possible, “true artists laboring in relative obscurity…”
Wells has notched over 830 credits during his prolific career. His hit TV series include the Emmy-winning ER and The West Wing. He served as an exec producer on TNT’s Southland and the award-winning Mildred Pierce (HBO) and China Beach (ABC). Currently, he is executive producer on Showtime’s Emmy-nominated Shameless. On the film side, Wells most recently directed August: Osage County, which earned lead and supporting actor noms for Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts, respectively. Wells also wrote and directed The Company Men, featuring Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Tommy Lee Jones and Chris Cooper.
Lukasz Zal and Ryszard Lenczewski for Ida
Presented by John Bailey, ASC, the inaugural Spotlight award was created to honor excellence in non-mainstream work.