It’s simple. Work very hard and be among the best at what you do.
But there’s also a little more…
The ASC is an invitation only organization. Membership is open to directors of photography who have been engaged as such for no less than five years within the last eight years preceding application. As you might expect, the individual must have continually demonstrated outstanding ability. Good character is also an important prerequisite.
A candidate must be proposed in writing by three Active or Retired ASC members. Eventually, this person will be called in for an interview before our Membership Committee, which meets on a monthly basis. The committee takes its responsibilities very seriously; they screen the candidate’s work, ask questions and take some time to get to know them. At the conclusion of the interview a vote is taken on the candidate’s suitability.
The resulting recommendation of the Membership Committee is next presented to the Board of Governors for further consideration and a second round of voting (a two-thirds majority is required for approval). However, a positive nod by the Committee and the Board does not guarantee a final thumbs up. Debate often ensues and occasionally a candidate may be stalled at this point. On the other hand, even a unanimously positive vote does not automatically clear the way for membership.
That goal is reached only after the candidate clears a thirty-day “posting period.” During this interval, the entire membership is informed of a pending invitation to the organization. Members are encouraged to review the candidate’s sample reel and bona fides and are free to voice any objections. Sometimes, further investigation is warranted and a candidate’s advancement is tabled until things are sorted out. In most cases though, they pass this stage with flying colors.
In the 102 year history of the ASC, fewer than 1000 individuals have earned a place on our roster. Currently, we carry about 400 Active and Retired members and half as many Associates. With regard to those who work in support of cinematographers or in related industries, proposal letters are required from two Active or Retired members, followed by approval by the Committee and the Board.
The ASC’s mission can be summed up in simple terms: to protect and promote any and all concerns of the cinematographer. This is accomplished through the work of 20 committees, each made up of members and associates with a keen interest for the issues at hand. Our crown jewel is the Motion Imaging Technology Council, chaired by Curtis Clark, ASC. It serves as the guiding voice in the development and implementation of digital tools and workflows. Others might claim it to be our Awards Committee, and I really can’t blame them. Everyone knows the ASC throws the best parties in town!
As you can see, there are a lot of reasons why we’ve remained such an elite organization for so long. Moving into our second century, I assure you that our standards will be maintained. If the founders of the ASC were with us today, I’m certain they’d be very impressed.
And I’m sure that one day our descendants will say the same about us.