American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 12

Even though reading for pleasure seems to be a rapidly declining habit among our populace, I'd like to recommend a number of books written by cinematographers that are well
worth seeking out. Instead of technical manuals, each is a personal memoir that recounts
the lives and careers of some incredibly talented and interesting individuals. Their narratives
vary in style, but they all offer a detailed glimpse at what it was like to be engaged in what
was once an exceedingly romantic occupation. Leaf through any one of the following titles
and I'm sure you'll be reminded of why you got into this business in the first place. I
certainly was.
One Reel a Week (Arthur Miller, ASC with Fred Balshofer; 1967): With seven Academy Award nominations - and three wins - Miller is one of the giants of ASC history.
He started as an assistant to his lifelong friend and co-author Balshofer in 1908 and
worked on some of the best films produced by Hollywood for the next four decades. His
amazing account paints a vivid picture of the time during which cinematographers were
encouraged to make up the rules as they went along. Interesting sidelight: Miller's own
camera, which he used to shoot The Perils of Pauline (in 1914!), is still on display at the
ASC Clubhouse. The book also features a foreword by fellow Society member Kemp R.
Niver, longtime curator of the ASC Museum.
Billy Bitzer: His Story (Billy Bitzer with Beaumont Newhall; 1973): For another glimpse
into the earliest days of the film industry, this rollicking autobiography is a fabulous place
to start. Bitzer is best known as cinematographer for the majority of D.W. Griffith's films, including Birth of a Nation and Intolerance.
To this day, Bitzer remains one of our greatest innovators; he is in fact the creator of many effects and conventions that Griffith is
often credited for. Added value is provided by the perspective of his co-writer, who was a giant in the field of photo curation.
The Light on Her Face (Joseph Walker, ASC and Juanita Walker, with a foreword by Barbara Stanwyck; 1984): Another fabulous entry to the canon, this time from perhaps the most unsung genius in ASC history. Walker spent most of his career at Columbia
Pictures, where he shot more than 140 films, including 24 with Frank Capra. In addition to his four Oscar nominations, he was also
an inventor who held 20 patents for camera-related equipment. Use this book as a guide to seek out examples of his best work;
I guarantee you will be blown away by his artistry.
Every Frame a Rembrandt: Art and Practice of Cinematography (Andrew Laszlo, ASC and Andrew Quicke; 2000) and It's a
Wrap! (Andrew Laszlo, ASC; 2004): When he retired, Andrew embarked on a writing career that included several wonderful works
of fiction. That same talent is on display in both books as he imparts much of the wisdom he earned during a life behind the
camera. His great humor and sharp observations are present in abundance and make this depiction of a more recent era a delight
to read.
The Lion and the Giraffe: A Naturalist's Life in the Movie Business (Jack Couffer, ASC; 2010): For something completely
different, try this one. An early pal and collaborator of ASC legends William A. Fraker and Conrad Hall, the author's career as a
wildlife cinematographer eventually took him to every corner of the world. In addition to a fruitful period writing, directing and
shooting episodes of The Wonderful World of Color for Walt Disney, his footage has appeared in countless features. In 1973 he
was Oscar-nominated for his work in Jonathan Livingston Seagull; his writing style is evocative of that movie's breezy tone.
If those are not enough, here are some others you'll enjoy: Conversations With Jack Cardiff: Art, Light and Direction in
Cinema (Justin Bowyer; 2003); Huston, We Have a Problem: A Kaleidoscope of Filmmaking Memories (Oswald Morris, BSC with
Geoffrey Bull; 2006); Take One: Tales From Behind the Camera (Alex Thomson, BSC; 2008); and Freddie Francis: The Straight Story
From Moby Dick to Glory (Freddie Francis, BSC with Tony Dalton; 2013).
After a tough winter throughout most of the country, it's good to know the days of sun, sand and surf are right around
the corner. It's not too early to start compiling your summer reading list, so get to it!

Richard P. Crudo
ASC President
12

May 2015

American Cinematographer

Photo by Douglas Kirkland.

President's Desk



American Cinematographer - May 2015

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

Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Intro
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 1
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 2
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Contents
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 4
American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 5
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American Cinematographer - May 2015 - Cover3
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