American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 80

CLOSE-UP

Gordon C. Lonsdale, ASC

When you were a child, what film made the
strongest impression on you?
Birdman of Alcatraz.

What has been your most satisfying moment
on a project?
The first time I saw a TV movie I had shot projected
on the big screen. It was called A Loss of Innocence, and the director, Graeme Clifford, struck a
print and showed it to me at the Deluxe laboratory.
It looked beautiful.

Which cinematographers, past or present, do
you most admire?
Caleb Deschanel, ASC - The Black Stallion totally
impressed me. The photography told the story. T.C.
Christensen, ASC - his beautiful lighting always
touches my heart. Nancy Schreiber, ASC is so tenacious and driven. She will succeed against all odds.

Have you made any memorable blunders?
I remember the first time I flashed a roll of 35mm
film in the darkroom. As I took the lonely walk to
the set to tell my cinematographer, I realized how
important the loader's job was. If you screwed up,
then all these people have to come back and do it
again. Or even worse, if reshooting was not possible, that work and effort is lost forever.

What sparked your interest in photography?
When I was 15 years old, my aunt gave me an
Argus rangefinder camera. I lived in Solvang, California, and remember shooting in this old abandoned Danish academy. Once I got my first prints
back from Kodak, I was hooked.
Where did you train and/or study?
While pursuing my bachelor's degree in communications with
emphasis in photography from Brigham Young University, I interned
for three years at the BYU motion-picture studio, spending summers
there, working on movies. I also trained on movie sets, working as
camera assistant, grip and electrician. Then as now, I watched those
around me, learning daily.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
Bob Stum was the first cinematographer I worked for, and I learned
a great deal from him about using hard light. I also worked for Reed
Smoot for eight years. He demanded perfection, and I learned to
demand the best from myself. Ron Vidor taught me assistant-camera
techniques on my first feature, which I still use and share.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
I still remember the first time I visited the Louvre in Paris and saw the
brush strokes and layers of paint, and the direction, color and quality
of light. I wanted to create that same feeling in my photography. I
remember hearing people say how beautiful 'Rembrandt lighting'
was. When I saw my first Rembrandt painting, I got it.
How did you get your first break in the business?
Peter Johnson hired me as a cinematographer at a small studio in
Provo, Utah. For the first time, my business card listed only one job:
'Director of Photography.' Peter allowed me to do side projects when
studio work was slow, which eventually led to shooting the TV series
Northern Exposure.

80

August 2017

What is the best professional advice you've ever received?
After we watched the dailies of the first commercial I ever shot,
producer Darryl Bateman looked at me and said, "Anyone could
have shot that. I thought you would give me more." After that I
made a commitment to make my work stand out from everyone
else's. Key grip Bob Blair once said to me, "If you want to make it,
you need to figure out how to light fast and make it look beautiful.
Do that and you will always work." He was right!
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
American Cinematographer magazine. Movies and TV shows
include Moonlight (2016), Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,
The Crown, The Young Pope.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to
try?
I would really love to do a film-noir project.
If you weren't a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
No question, a heavy-equipment operator. As a kid, I worked in the
oil fields of Southern California, and I was always assisting with a
shovel at the bottom of a hole they were digging.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
membership?
Caleb Deschanel, Reed Smoot and Bill Wages.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
I feel like I have a whole new family of brothers and sisters who share
the same love of photography - a whole group of people I can call
on for help or ideas. Some of my best times are being at the ASC
Clubhouse, meeting members and catching up.
‚óŹ

American Cinematographer



Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of American Cinematographer - August 2017

Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Intro
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 1
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 2
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Contents
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 4
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 5
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American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32a
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - 32b
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American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover3
American Cinematographer - August 2017 - Cover4
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