American Cinematographer - May 2015 - 96

Close-up

Jon Joffin, ASC

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?
My most memorable moment came when I sat in a dark theater and
watched Apocalypse Now. I was blown away by everything I saw in
the film - the colors, the images, the music, the vibrancy and
audacity of the storytelling. This was my moment of revelation. I
knew I wanted to become a cinematographer.
Which cinematographers, past or present, do
you most admire?
There are so many that I could write a novel, but
some who really stand out are: Jordan Cronenweth [ASC]; Caleb Deschanel [ASC]; Bruno
Delbonnel [ASC, AFC]; Chris Doyle [HKSC]; Vittorio Storaro [ASC, AIC]; Sean Bobbitt [BSC]; Chris
Menges [ASC, BSC]; Robert Richardson [ASC];
and Emmanuel Lubezki [ASC, AMC].
What sparked your interest in photography?
My love of photography was passed down to me
through my father. I spent countless hours in the darkroom and
buried myself in his photography books and magazines. My idols
were Robert Frank, Eve Arnold, Arnold Newman, Ansel Adams,
Alfred Stieglitz and Manuel Álvarez Bravo.
Where did you train and/or study?
York University in Toronto, but most of what I learn comes from
working on set, and I am still learning every day.
Who were your early teachers or mentors?
All the cinematographers on the pages of AC magazine, which I
studied religiously as a student, and still do.
What are some of your key artistic influences?
Paintings from the Dutch Golden Age. Photographs by Sarah Moon
and Julia Margaret Cameron. Early photographic processes:
autochromes, daguerreotypes, cyanotypes, salt prints.
How did you get your first break in the business?
I went out on a day call for The X-Files and was extremely fortunate
to end up shooting on the second unit.
What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?
I was shooting a children's show that had several musical numbers,
including one that paid homage to 'Hot Lunch' from Fame. The
dancers did a breathtaking routine that was an absolute celebration
of youth and artistic discovery. Their joy was infectious and it quickly
spread to everyone on set. The crew and I were able to capture and
convey their pure emotions in the finished product.

96

May 2015

Have you made any memorable blunders?
A memorable moment for me on The X-Files involved shooting an
alien spaceship that had never been seen on the show before. I
wanted to embrace the show's overriding theme that 'less is scarier,'
so I shot the scene very dark - and this was for a show that was
already the darkest on television. The next day, I was called into the
producer's office to view the footage with the director. They were
trying to locate the alien ship in my footage -
drawing the blinds, leaning close to the TV
screen, squinting their eyes, but all to no avail. I
realized I had mistaken 'blackness' for 'darkness.'
I was convinced I'd be fired on the spot. But to my
amazement, neither of them was angry. I was
simply sent off to shoot the scene again.
What is the best professional advice you've
ever received?
You're never done lighting, but at some point you
have to stop.
What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?
I love how lyrical and gorgeous Ain't Them Bodies Saints is, and I
have never experienced as great a cinematic experience as Gravity.
TV shows that inspire me are Mad Men, Rectify and True Detective.
Also, any book by Neil Gaiman or music by Bon Iver and Sigur Ros.
I view the website 500px almost daily. The photographs are truly
inspiring.
Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to
try?
I like any genre that tells a great story, but I do have a particular fondness for period films.
If you weren't a cinematographer, what might you be doing
instead?
I just can't imagine doing anything else.
Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for
membership?
Tobias Schliessler, Jonathan Freeman and Stephen Lighthill.
How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?
Membership in the ASC is a dream realized and a definite high point
of my career. Being in the company of so many incredible cinematographers has inspired me to excel at my craft. I want my work
to reflect the high standards of visual storytelling that the ASC and
its members represent.
G

American Cinematographer



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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