American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 12

There comes a moment in Woody Allen's Crimes and Misdemeanors (photographed by
Sven Nykvist, ASC) in which his character, Cliff Stern, is visiting his parents at their apartment in Brooklyn. Finding himself in something of an existential crisis, Cliff plaintively pesters
his off-camera father with complaints about life in general, and concludes with a simple but
eternally perplexing question: "Why were there Nazis?" The elder Stern's reply from the
next room always strikes me as hilarious. "I don't know how this can opener works, and
he wants to know why there were Nazis?" This is not just funny; it's clever. Besides the obvious intent, Allen is making a point that's worth a closer look.
Any sentient being will identify with his feeling that we're living in a world turned
upside down. Despite all our amazing advancements in such areas as medicine and technology, it seems humanity is never able to get ahead of itself in terms of how we deal with
one another, whether it be on our own streets, in our cities or across national borders. True
and lasting peace is a tenuous concept, and though we'd like to believe our elected officials are doing their best on our behalf, we know that's rarely the case. I'm not defending
them, but how can they? In order to function in their arena, morality must be malleable
and its application tailored to the situation they're facing. Does virtuous behavior always
draw its meaning from the same source, or does it merely reflect what someone says it does
in order to suit the desire of a specific moment? The willingness of an individual to make
this distinction can be vetted for any number of meanings, yet in every case it marks the
dividing line between good and bad character.
Loyalty, Progress, Artistry. You'll notice which word the ASC's founders chose as the lead in their motto when they
formed the organization in 1919. Though I suppose it carried significant weight to the people of that time, the choice seems
quaint in our postmodern world - and that's unfortunate. When you consider that cinematographers generally do not
collaborate with one another, you realize there are no accepted rules or codes governing our behavior. Within the ASC, the
notion of loyalty - not just to the organization but to fellow members - creates an understanding that helps fill the gap.
None of it is written down, but the example set by those who have gone before us serves as the invisible glue that holds us
together. In the course of what can at times be a messy business, we don't dishonor each other - or we at least strive very
hard not to. And on the rare occasions during which someone might stray beyond the lines - say, by unethically snatching
away a job, mistreating their crew, or replacing another cinematographer without first calling for the full story and a blessing - the situation is addressed quickly and seriously. There's no ambivalence regarding loyalty at the ASC, though it might
as well be defined as character; in addition to a superior body of work, it's the single most important prerequisite for invitation to our ranks.
Clearly, the motion-picture industry is not a meritocracy. The cream does not always rise to the top. Day by day it seems
many of us are forced to navigate an increasingly cutthroat and uncaring environment. It's filled with instances of good people
who did their jobs well and faithfully only to find themselves chewed up by bad political situations or the greed, madness or
incompetence of those they worked for. There is no shortage of examples that would lead one to believe it's a magnet for
sociopaths and egomaniacal lunatics. Nonetheless, we're also privileged to work among quite a few brilliant and talented
professionals whose decency, humility and gratitude somehow manage to shine through in even the worst of situations.
It's those individuals - those people of good character - whom everyone needs to pay more attention to. By concentrating on what makes them tick rather than giving in to the dark side, there might be a way to turn the ship around before
it hits the rocks. And in the process, we might for once attain that elusive state I suspect Woody Allen's Cliff Stern was after
while badgering his parents in their low-rent railroad flat: peace of mind.

Richard P. Crudo
ASC President

12

January 2015

American Cinematographer

Photo by Douglas Kirkland.

President's Desk



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - January 2015

Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 5
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 6
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 7
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 8
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 9
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American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 11
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American Cinematographer - January 2015 - 48
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K1
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K2
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K3
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K4
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K5
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K6
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K7
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K8
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K9
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K10
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K11
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - K12
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American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - January 2015 - Cover4
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