June 16, 2018

ICS Report June 2018


If “America First” is the new doctrine, the ASC are to be congratulated for sharing so generously the latest in their high-end technology with International cinematographers. At their Third International Cinematographers Summit held in Los Angeles the best of American hospitality was enjoyed by representatives from over 30 world-wide Societies at this faultlessly organised event. The sixty delegates experienced the generous unveiling of state of the Art concepts in American technology over four intensive, informative days using the ASC Hollywood Club House as a base. Hosting was the Chairman of the ASC International Committee, Bosnian born Suki Medencevic ASC SAS ASBH.

The message that film is alive and kicking was the predictable inspiration from the opening discussion between Hoyte van Hoytema ASC FSF NSC, Christopher Nolan and Producer, Emma Thomas, following the Imax showing of Dunkirk at Universal Studios. Their dialogue was passionate, positive for the future of the medium, and served as an uplifting and inspiring introduction to the Summit. Both Hoyte and Emma Thomson questioned the premise that film was necessarily more expensive. Christopher Nolan had a good line regarding production budgets: “It’s not a list of realities, it’s a list of priorities”. Hoyte quoted a recent example whereby, thanks to discipline in shooting film, his latest production had come in under budget compared to the original digital costing.

It was also interesting to hear Hoyte speak about working on the large format and how he felt compelled to “leave it alone”, resisting - or not seeing a reason to - supplement light or fill in shadows. He suggested that such a large negative area created it’s own world, one that invited less interference. Half-joking, he said it would be the ideal format for documentary.

A subsequent presentation at the Academy, where delegates were welcomed by President John Bailey ASC, served as a further reminder that whilst the digital dilemma of pixel deterioration remained unsolved, film is assured of a future. The fight for the choice of capture medium by the cinematographer continues. Long live the Digital Dilemma!

John Bailey ASC - Academy President

‘A Conversation with Adriano Goldman ASC, ABC’ and his work on Season 2 of ‘The Crown’ provided a glimpse into his methodology on the series and The Crown house style. The similarity between a rugby pitch scene in The Crown and a football game scene from ‘Kes’ revealed the importance of the legacy of documentary filming. Adriano later confided his admiration for the cinematography of Chris Menges BSC.

Adriano Goldman ASC (LHS)

Lukas Teren ASK spoke about the Slovak inventor Ivan Putora who developed the focus- wheel chart we all know and love. There then followed a wonderful presentation by Marek Jicha ACK who projected for us, via computer file, a forty-five second piece of 88mm film shot on Place de la Concorde in Paris in 1897 that was found a few years back in a Prague vault and which has been painstakingly restored by members of the Czech National Film Archive under Marek’s guidance.

A static camera running at 12 fps. A wide view of 18thC traffic, horse and carriages sweeping past; pedestrians walking, waiting to cross the road, stopping to talk. A dog transfixed by its owner. The building in the background, its chimneys etched precisely against the sky. The clarity and the detail was astonishing and there were audible gasps from those in the room watching. When the applause eventually died down it was noted that, at last, there was a reference for ADs to direct their period background action.

A demonstration of a new Giant 70 feet Cinema Screen by Samsung which does not require a projector, was described by Joe Dunton BSC as a truly historic day in film history, “I wish Stanley (Kubrick) was here to see this”. Despite reservations from some delegates on the eye strain of watching, in effect a giant LED computer screen, there was agreement this technological breakthrough may represent the future of projection.


ICS Delegates 2018

The major surviving Los Angeles film laboratory is family owned Fotokem. Even this hardened visitor was impressed by the enthusiasm and interest in the process shown by the younger delegates representing countries no longer fortunate enough to have a laboratory.

No visit to Panavision would be complete without a presentation on their new Lenses by the effusive Dan Saski, whose enthusiasm and effervescence appears forged from the glass he has moulded into such technical masterpieces.

The most potent bonding experience came, late in the day, in an emotional address by IATSE, LOCAL600, President Steven Poster ASC who spoke strongly about the fight for justice following the tragic death, through negligence, of Sarah Jones. The vital issue of safety was common to all delegates. Stephen and the Local 600 officials pledged to make available a safety App which could be adapted for various Societies and unions worldwide, together with a film made by IATSE regarding long working hours which will be available on line.

The family of Doug Milsome BSC have yet to receive any firm news of the circumstances surrounding the tragic death of his son Mark in Africa after a six month wait! Delegates gave an ovation as a tribute to Mark and sympathy to his father Doug Milsome BSC.

Earlier, mingling in the grounds of the Club House the ASC President, Kees Van Oostrum ASC had introduced Mike Eley and Nigel Walters to Monty Fisher, grandson of Gerry Fisher BSC. The young aspiring cinematographer related his pride in his grandfather, a pride shared by all BSC members who knew him.

Mike Eley BSC, Kees Van Oostrum ASC and Monty Fisher

‘Celebrating Diversity In The Crews’ was a conversation about the importance of diversity in the industry presented by the ASC Vision Committee and the Australian Society of Cinematographers and its President, Ron Johansson OAM. It was emphasised, again, that diversity springs from a change in mind-set and attitude as much as anything.

Some years ago the screening of a film called ‘Iluminados’, illustrating the work of Brazilian cinematographers, inspired IMAGO web master Tony Costa AIP to make his own educational film entitled 1Film 3 Visions for a conference in Copenhagen which aroused admiration from delegates. The work of the Imago Technology Committee was effectively presented by Philippe Ros. Elen Lotman ESC presented 'Cinematography & Perception’ in which she revealed, for instance, that humans register disgust more when looking at “flatly lit” images.

Nigel Walters BSC, Ron Johanson ACS, ELEN LOTMAN Estonian President ESC and 
 Roger Lanser ACS

The Imago contribution concluded with an interesting colour framework for the texture of the digital image, presented with his customary enigmatic panache by Rolf Coulanges BVK. Compared to the first ICS a decade ago, when Imago was virtually unknown to Americans , the Federation has travelled quite a distance.

If the aim of such Summits is to foster increased understanding and friendship among Societies, they this one succeeded admirably. As in previous editions of the ICS, Central and South American Societies were well represented. To be regretted, in common with recent Imago conferences, was the absence of Societies with great Cinematographers from Eastern Europe, Poland, Hungary and Russia.

The success of the International Cinematographers Summit (the fourth is promised in two or three years’ time) was due to the enthusiasm of the ASC International Committee under the Chairmanship of Suki Medencevic ASC SAS Asbh. Much is also owed to the dedication of the staff of the ASC under Patty Armacost ably supported by Delphine Figueras and Alex Lopez. The Summit marked the lull before the storm as preparation is already under way for the 100th Anniversary of the ASC. In 2019, the second oldest Society of Cinematographers, the BSC, will be celebrating its 70th Anniversary.

The ICS was held following a record breaking Cine Gear at Paramount Studios.

The BSC did not have a stand at this year’s Cine Gear, therefore the only presence British cinematography had at the show, apart from UK manufacturers and companies, was via British Cinematographer magazine which, being a table piled high with the latest edition, attracted a lot of passing traffic. Given that many people think the BC magazine is a BSC publication - a confusion that possibly serves both parties well - it might be good policy to have a stand at future Cine Gear Expos.

Mike Eley BSC President (LHS) with Nigel Walters BSC Vice President