Every year in the fall the International Cinematographers Guild or “ICG”, which is part of IATSE, gathers to honor the best in Emerging Cinematography by those Guild Members who are not classified as Cinematographers, but has fulfilled that role in these competing films, who are recognize the work in these short features. The setting of the “ECA Awards” is in the handsome DGA theater near Fairfax and Sunset, where 10 movie shorts are shown by these up and coming Cinematographers. The accomplished Cinematographer and President of ICG, Steven B. Poster, ASC; who was the Cinematographer for Big Top Pee-wee, Donnie Darko and The Miles Davis Documentary, presided over the ceremony with guest hosts, who announced the Honorees & Honorable Mentions in between screening of their various movie shorts, showcasing their exceptional skills as a directors of photography.
This year’s guest speaker was Stefanie Powers representing The Actors Fund provided an insightful and entertaining speech focused on the work of cinematographers. Stefanie took the time to share her experiences as a young actress at Columbia under the fading Studio System and her career that eventually blossomed with the advent of the current film industry. Stafanie starred opposite Robert Wagner in the hit TV show “Hart to Hart“, where she won 2 Emmys and 5 Golden Globes. Stephanie delivered a riveting story of her life as an actress. She made it clear that the Cinematographer was essential in bringing her performances to life. She said, “It was in the camera department that we were given the most useful information. It was always a bee hive of activity. When there was a time between the cleaning and the re-assembly of the cameras and lens packages we were allowed to look through those lenses and to learn how much room we had to act! What each lens would allow: medium shoots, close-ups, wide shoots and what illusions would be created or destroyed by the choice of a lens or an angle. It became clear as an actor my most intimate relationship would not be with my director or my fellow actors, but with a large and cumbersome apparatus. The one person who would truly see my performance was the camera operator. He was always the person I looked to first!” Stefanie continued with more interesting anecdotal stories that included her experience of being on set for the filming of 2001 A Space Odyssey, where she detailed the innovations and difficulties encountered in filming this classic SyFy film by Stanley Kubrick, she deemed an “Art Film”. Stefanie closed her time on the dais by encouraging all the IGC members in the room to have a very long and inventive career.
The program continued with the showing of the 10 shorts. Of the ten, eight received awards and the other two received honorable mention. The award winners were Frank Buono, camera operator, for “1982”, with it fascinating camera moves; Devin Doyle, 1st AC, for “Lancaster Stomp”; Bartosz Nalazek, preview system, for “Making a Scene: Forest Whitaker”; George Feucht, camera operator, for “Une Libération”; Sidarth Kantamneni, camera operator, for “Saerto Ena”; Kyle Klütz, 1st AC, for “Sequence”; David Kruta, digital imaging technician, for “Wallace”; and Greta Zozula, camera assistant, for “The Immaculate Reception”. Both Chris Heinrich, 1st AC of “Sure Thing” and David Jean Schweitzer, camera operator of “Good Luck, Mr. Gorski” received honorable mentions during the proceedings. All these shorts were remarkable and beautifully shot films that entertained us for over an hour and half. The award show then concluded to be followed by a lavish reception in the DGA’s front lobby.
The time in the lobby offered a bit of time to decompress after the screenings, where the honorees and members of the Guild could take a moment to process and revel in the evening’s highlights. These were all remarkable short films that focused in on the art and craft involved in visualizing a great story. These creatives work countless hours and meticulously detail every scene to create a flawless imagined world. Stephanie put it best when she said, “The imagination of the camera operator who sees the world through a lens to tell a story that can’t get told any other way.” It was a wonderful evening honoring and celebrating a new golden age of cinematography!