The founders of the ASC really started a trend when they established the organization in 1919.
AAC, ACK, ACS, ABC, ACF, ADF, AEC, AFC, AIC, AMC, AIP, ASK, BAC, BSC, BVK, CSC, DFF, FNF, FSC, FSF, HFS, HSC, ISC, JSC, KSC, LAC, MSC, NSC, PSC, RGC, SBC, SCS, ZFS …
These are the initials – and I’m sure I missed a few – that represent the various cinematographers’ societies that have sprung up around the world in our wake. (For the record, respectively representing Austria, Czech Republic, Australia, Brazil, Cuba, Argentina, Spain, France, Italy, Mexico, Portugal, Slovakia, Bulgaria, Great Britain, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Finland, Sweden, Croatia, Hungary, India, Japan, Korea, Lithuania, Republic of Macedonia, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, Belgium, Switzerland and Slovenia).
This poses a question: How many disciplines in the movie industry can make a similar claim to such solidarity, affection and respect for one another? Anyone who has attended an ASC Awards event will recognize the bond that exists among us; the fellowship expressed there is indeed sincere. It stirs a renewed faith in what we do and proves that on the whole, cinematographers are the most unassumingly passionate artists in the industry.
And this is precisely why it’s so easy for us to join together in an effort to protect and expand our interests. Further proof comes in the form of the International Cinematography Summit held bi-annually at our Clubhouse in Hollywood. It’s attended by representatives of the various societies from around the world for the purpose of increasing communication regarding the artistic and technical changes that are affecting our craft. The first meeting was held in 2011 and was a huge success. We anticipate even greater results the next time around.
Standardization, archival concerns, future trends – these issues are at the forefront for everyone, regardless of where we live or work. One issue in particular keeps popping up in most every circle. It’s scary to think that at this late date cinematographers are sometimes being blocked from supervising the finish of their work in the DI suite. Does this save time or money? Example after example has proven the opposite to be true. Equally troublesome, a work is compromised every time the original intent of the director and cinematographer is tampered with. Since we’re hired for our taste and expertise – which are generously proffered at every point in the process, by the way – you have to wonder why someone would endorse this. Compounding the insult, we’re rarely paid for our postproduction labor.
Short of a binding, right-of-authorship agreement – which will never be enacted in the United States – we’re left on our own. Our employers are aware of the commitment we bring to the job, and many of them are all too eager to use that against us. Right now our only recourse is to develop stronger relationships with directors and producers that will protect us when necessary. The irony is that the smart ones understand how important our contribution is and insist that we supervise the DI.
Hopefully the next International Cinematography Summit will offer some new solutions.