Monday, July 23, 2007


The American Society of Cinematographers is not a labor union or guild, but is an educational, cultural and professional organization. Membership is possible by invitation and is extended only to directors of photography with distinguished credits in the industry.

For more than 85 years, the Society has remained true to its ideals: loyalty, progress and artistry. Reverence for the past and a commitment to the future have made a potent and lasting combination in a world of shifting values and uncertain motives.

The American Society of Cinematographers received its charter from the State of California in January 1919 and is the oldest continuously operating motion-picture society in the world. Its declared purpose still resonates today: “to advance the art of cinematography through artistry and technological progress, to exchange ideas and to cement a closer relationship among cinematographers.”

The origins of the ASC lie in two clubs founded by cinematographers in 1913. The Cinema Camera Club was started in New York City by three cameramen from the Thomas A. Edison Studio: Phil Rosen, Frank Kugler and Lewis W. Physioc. They decided to form a fraternity to establish professional standards, encourage the manufacture of better equipment and seek recognition as creative artists. Meanwhile, the similarly conceived Static Club was formed in Los Angeles. When Rosen came to the West Coast five years later, he and Charles Rosher combined the clubs. The ASC now has more than 340 active and associate members.

The first ASC screen credit was given to charter member Joseph August when he photographed a William S. Hart picture in 1919. Later that year, producer-star Mary Pickford had the initials ASC lettered after Charles Rosher’s name on her credit titles. Since that time, these letters have come to symbolize excellence in the motion picture industry.

The year after its charter, the ASC began publishing American Cinematographer magazine, which has advanced the art form by analyzing the work of its top practitioners. During the past decade alone, the magazine has earned scores of accolades, including three Folio: Editorial Excellence Awards, nine Maggie Awards and 28 Maggie nominations.

The Society has also served the industry by publishing a series of important and influential books about cinematography. It has published nine editions of the American Cinematographer Manual, a technical benchmark whose continuous publication recently earned the Society an Award of Commendation from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. Other recent books from the ASC Press include the American Cinematographer Video Manual (3rd ed.), Reflections: Twenty-One Cinematographers at Work, Charles Clarke’s Professional Cinematography, the Arricam Book by Jon Fauer, ASC, and compilations detailing the careers of prominent Society members.

One of the Society’s most important endeavors is its ASC Awards for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography, which salutes stellar work on both theatrical features and television shows. Staged annually in Los Angeles since 1986, this ceremony has thrown a spotlight on the cinematographer’s invaluable contributions to the filmmaking process.

Throughout the decades, the ASC has kept pace with changing times. The Society has launched its own Web site (, which has become a hub of information for both industry professionals and students. Along with in-depth articles about cinematography, the site has presented Society news, educational resources and question-and-answer forums with ASC members.

In recent years, the ASC has also been very active in expressing concern about choices for Advanced Television (ATV), ranging from the choice of aspect ratio to pushing for the abandonment of interlaced displays. At the invitation of the House and Senate in Washington, D.C., members of the ASC have informed and advised legislators on these issues.

Currently, the Society is spearheading the effort to establish industrywide standards for digital cinema. Digital tools and techniques have had a significant impact on the cinematographer’s craft, and the Society is committed to maintaining the same high standards that it applies to more traditional, film-based methods. Its vigilant positions on digital issues has ensured that the ASC will continue to function as a guardian of high quality for motion-picture images.


dan said...

thanks for linking! i'll repay the favour!

Ash said...

Really good post on a side of film making not enough people seem to appreciate.