American Cinematographer - April 2017 - 108
Ernie Holzman, ASC
When you were a child, what film
made the strongest impression on
Lawrence of Arabia.
ually increase the depth of field by
using a Panavision electronic device
to change the shutter opening from
12 degrees at f2.8 to 200 degrees at
f11, so that the priest would eventually come into sharp focus as well.
Matt loved the idea as a subtle storytelling device, and because it was a
visual counterpoint to the look we
Which cinematographers, past
or present, do you most admire?
Raoul Coutard, Jordan Cronenweth
[ASC], Owen Roizman [ASC] and
Gordon Willis [ASC].
What sparked your interest
My father gave me a still camera
when I was 15, and I developed and
printed in a friend's darkroom.
Have you made any memorable
What is the best professional
advice you've ever received?
[Gaffer] Earl Gilbert once told me,
'The lights you turn on are just as
important as the lights you turn off.'
Where did you train and/or
I studied cinematography at the AFI.
Who were your early teachers
George Folsey [ASC] and Jordan
What are some of your key artistic influences?
My wife, Terry, and I have visited many countries and I always enjoy
walking the streets of cities - small towns - observing people and
watching the light.
How did you get your first break in the business?
After an AFI internship with Jordan Cronenweth on Cutter's Way,
Jordan offered me the job of film loader on his next project - which
would be Blade Runner.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
When I shot the pilot for Miracles with Matt Reeves, we decided to
continue the concept of shallow depth, which we had used on a
previous project. However, in the third act, there was a pivotal scene
in which the two main characters gradually realize they have been
having the same recurring nightmare. I suggested to Matt that we
film the scene as a single setup that would begin with the focus on
the boy in close-up-profile and his priest out of focus in the background. As the scene progressed, and as the boy and the priest
become aware of their spiritual connection, I proposed that we grad-
What recent books, films or
artworks have inspired you?
I recently saw Denzel Washington's
film Fences, and a production of
Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane at the Mark
Taper Forum. Brilliant writing and extraordinary acting inspire me.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like
I love musicals and unfortunately have never had the opportunity to
If you weren't a cinematographer, what might you be
I always thought it would be great fun to be a session drummer in
Nashville or Memphis.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
Ken Zunder and Steven Poster.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
Being part of a group of men and women dedicated to the art of
cinematography has been a constant source of inspiration. I truly
enjoy our creative community and camaraderie.
Photo by Owen Roizman, ASC.