2015 Emerging Cinematographer Awards At The DGA: A Celebration Of The Art And Craft of Cinematography


Photo by Billy Bennight for The Los Angeles Beat

This year’s 19th Emerging Cinematographer Awards continues to celebrate the art and craft of cinematography and cinematographers’ work by the International Cinematographers Guild or “ICG”, which is part of IATSE. Eight shorts were shown Sunday highlighting the wondrous work of these emerging cinematographers. As President of ICG, Steven B. Poster, ASC, put it, “We’re celebrating their work, celebrating their emerging talent and I think you’re going to be very pleased to see the quality of work this year.” The 8 honorees were Tobin Oldach for “Thirst”, Jason Hafer for “Incident On Highway 73”, David Kruta for “Lullaby”, Daniel Cotroneo for “The Other Side”, Devin Doyle “Fish Friend”, John Garrent “Delia”, T.J. Williams Jr. for Color “TV, No Vacancy” and Michael Nie for “Dust”. The rest of the evening’s celebration was filled with awards and the screening of the honorees’ cinematic efforts.

There were seven of the honorees in attendance Sunday and all eight received awards and prizes for their efforts. Of the eight short films shown on Sunday the grand prize was taken by Michael Nie. Michael won the $60,000 camera equipment rental package donated by Panavision Equipment for his work as a cinematographer on Dust. Also, Bruce C. Doering, who will be retiring December 1st, after 30 years of service as executive director received the inaugural Bruce C. Doering Distinguished Service Award by ICG President Steven Poster. The award was in acknowledgment of his advocacy relating to policies and legislation favorable to labor workers.

The evening’s special guest was Lindsay Wagner, star of The Bionic Woman. Lindsay shared one of her experiences with an anecdotal story with then unknown actress, Sandra Bullock, that illuminated how she relied on and trusted the cinematographer to make a difficult to shoot scene, work. It was a delightful inside story everyone one in the room could relate to.

The screening of the honorees shorts came after Lindsay’s story. Here’s a brief overview and review of the movie shorts screened Sunday evening.

Thirst, Tobin Oldach‘s project, stars Melanie Griffith, is a delusional tale told from a down and out guy’s perspective who finds working in a “Loser Friendly” bar grounds him in his humanity and from his despair. There are some great camera moves and a relatable story drwas you to the end.

Incident On Highway 73, Jason Hafer project, s a horror/thriller offering that offers a cautionary tale of a young engaged couple’s road trip that goes horribly wrong with dark humor and terror wrapped in a Poltergeist vibe.

Lullaby, David Kruta‘s project, is a study non-vernal performance by Rick Kincaid peppered with occasional voice over. The story that highlights and takes a somewhat nihilistic view of the despair associated with the effects of living in overcrowding in an urban environment.

The Other Side, Daniel Cotroneo‘s project, The Other Side is a reflective presentation of two different aspect to a story that revolves around good and evil theme. The story about an under cover operative versus elements of a criminal underworld is told twice offering different perspectives that gives one pause to ponder who is the good guy and who is the bad guy.

Fish Friend, Devin Doyle‘s project, is a story of an underdog to triumph story with a charming and dark edge told from a little girl’s perspective. Think of Welcome To The Dollhouse meets upgraded production values plus a CG Animation fish as the hero.

Delia, John Garrett‘s project, is a snowy haunted story of a father’s remorse and loss. The story appears to be disjointed and juxtaposed creating a feeling of delirium and panic as his thoughts clash together. Delia’s father rehearses and re-lives the loss his daughter. It’s a sad story where the visual montage unlocks a man’s feelings of regret and loss.

Color TV, No Vacancy, T. J. Williams Jr.‘s project, is stunning visual candy and an unabashed revelatory homage to Surrealism. Color TV, No Vacancy is shot on stage with a commercial style with stirring visuals, provocatively strung together symbolic images intertwine story lines that verge on chaos, drenched in vibrant color and burn brilliantly in one’s consciousness. Rewind, repeat!

Dust, Michael Nie‘s project, is an earthy beautifully shot adventure fantasy tale. The short is filled with philosophical and spiritual undertow with a super natural theme. The journey starts from a perspective of a man who has lost his way but events beyond his control force his hand and he find himself. Think The Lord of the Rings meets Tao.

In addition to Sunday’s festivities there was an ECA luncheon held Thursday where 4 additional special awards were presented ECA members. The Kodak Cinematography Mentor of the Year Award was given to Mandy Walker ASC, ACS. The Nat Tiffen Award for Excellence in Cinematography Education was given to professor Bruce Sheridan, chair of the “Cinema Art + Science” at Columbia College Chicago. The Technicolor William A. Fraker Cinematography Journalist of the Year was given to David HeurinThe Canon Award for Advancement in Digital Technology given to Steven Tiffen, president and CEO of the Tiffen Company. Steven Poster, ASC, said it best in an earlier press release, “This is my favorite time of year when we bring together some of the finest people in our field. This year we have a multiple award-winning cinematographer from Australia, an internationally recognized college professor, a wonderful journalist who knows cinematography inside out and a man whose family founded a company 77 years ago to serve the art and science of cinematography and cinematographers the world over. Now the second generation is continuing to provide exciting innovations in glass filters, steadicams and other technologies.”

After the screenings there’s always the celebration inside the DGA’s reception area of catered food, friendship and refreshments. It a time where all involved visit and revel in the night’s accolades and awards. It’s also a time for friends and colleges to catch up and reconnect over their mutual passion. It’s one of the highlights of Award Season where both Art and Craft are honored and praise in a glittery industry that focuses a great deal on those seen up on the screen, but with the talent and skill of the cinematographer those moments with our favorite stars would be less grand or majestic.


Billy Bennight

About Billy Bennight

Billy Bennight is a writer and photographer with expertise and years of experience in these disciplines. His musical youth started as a Punk Rocker and has expanded into exploring many genres of music, with a keen interest in art, fashion, photography, and writing. He shoots celebrity and red-carpet events for ZUMA Press. He is also a member of the Los Angeles Art Association. His images have been published in The Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, Parade, Wall Street Journal, and French Elle, both Vanity Fair and Vanity Fair Italia. He's very engaged in life. You an see more of his work at ZUMA Press at http://zuma.press/srp.html?SRCH=Billy+Bennight&timerange=&viewType=&PDS=&PAGENO=1 You can follow him on his Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/billybennightartist and on Instagram and Twitter @billybennight
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