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American Society of Cinematographers

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), founded in Hollywood in 1919, is a cultural, educational, and professional organization that is neither a labor union nor a guild.[2] The society was organized with a purpose to not only progress and advance the science and art of cinematography, but also gather a wide range of cinematographers together to collaboratively discuss and exchange techniques and ideas and to advocate for motion pictures as a type of art form. This mission is still ongoing.[2] Currently, the president of the ASC is Kees van Oostrum.[1]

American Society of Cinematographers
American Society of Cinematographers (emblem).png
Full nameAmerican Society of Cinematographers
Founded1919; 100 years ago (1919)
Key peopleKees van Oostrum – President
Office locationHollywood, California
CountryUnited States

Members use the post-nominal letters "ASC". On the 1920 film titled Sand, cinematographer Joseph H. August, who was an original member of the ASC, became the first individual to have the "ASC" appear after his name on the onscreen credit.[3]

Only film cinematographers and special effect supervisors are allowed to be invited to become an ASC member.[2] Some basic requirements include being a director of photography for a minimum five out of the last eight years before applying, having a highly regarded reputation, and being recommended by three active or retired ASC members.[4]

However, a criticism of the ASC is the lack of women represented on the board.[5] Out of the active members on the ASC, only 4% are women.[6]


In the beginning of cinema, directors and photographers in the United States had a similar problem: they had "big, ugly white streaks" that resulted from static electricity discharged from the cameras. Two separate groups in the United States worked together to find a solution to this problem.[2] The two groups were the Cinema Camera Club and the Static Club of America.[2]

A precursor to the ASC, the Cinema Camera Club in New York City was founded in 1913 by Arthur Miller, Phil Rosen, and Frank Kugler.[2] Arthur and his brother, William Miller, both filmmakers in New York City, worked together and established a union for cinematography workers called the Motion Picture Industry Union. Miller left to work in Hollywood, California, one year after the Motion Picture Industry Union was formed.

In 1918, Phil Rosen asked the president of the Cinema Camera Club of California, Charles Rosher, whether he could help reorganize the association by creating a national organization with "membership by invitation and a strong educational component". This reorganisation and the setup of the bylaws occurred on December 21, 1918. The ASC was officially authorized by the State of California on January 8, 1919.[2]

In 2014, the ASC admitted its first member with no background in live action feature film, Pixar's Sharon Calahan, who had worked entirely in computer animation.[7][8][9] The society started the ASC Master Class education program in the same year (2014). This program allows members of the ASC and other professionals to teach students from all walks of life on various subjects including composition, lighting, angles, creating mood among other techniques of visual storytelling.[2]

In 2017, John Bailey, an ASC member, was elected as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, making him the first cinematographer to take up such a position.[2]


In the 1920s, the ASC began printing a four-page newsletter titled The American Cinematographer in 1920. According to the ASC, "The American Cinematographer covers the technology and artistry of visual storytelling, offering print and digital editions."[2] Within this publication a wide range of cinematographer and technical information was produced through a variety of means such as interviews, articles, blogs and podcasts.[10]

Other than the magazine, the ASC also publishes the American Cinematographer Manual. The first edition was published in 1935 by Jackson J. Rose as The American Cinematographer Hand Book and Reference Guide. The Hand Book evolved from the Cinematographic Annual only published twice, in 1930 and 1931. Rose's handbook went through nine editions by the middle of the 1950s, and it was from this book that the modern American Cinematographer Manual originated. The first edition of the new manual was published in 1960, and is now in its 10th edition, published in 2016.[2]

Founding membersEdit

Award categoriesEdit



Lifetime AchievementEdit

  • Lifetime Achievement Award
  • Television Career Achievement Award
  • Board of Directors Award

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Members - The American Society of Cinematographers". Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k "About - The American Society of Cinematographers". Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  3. ^ Sand (1920), IMDb, retrieved 2018-09-19
  4. ^ Marine, Joe (2015-08-06). "How to Become a Member of the American Society of Cinematographers". No Film School. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  5. ^ Hutchinson, Pamela (2018-01-25). "'Ever heard of a woman cameraman?': why female cinematographers get overlooked". The Guardian. Retrieved 2018-09-21.
  6. ^ Robb, David (2015-09-23). "Female Cinematographers A Rarity In Hollywood". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2018-09-19.
  7. ^ Giardina, Carolyn (2014-01-31). "Pixar's Sharon Calahan on Animation, Live Action Convergence". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  8. ^ Workman, Matt (2014-08-24). "First CG Director of Photography joins the ASC Q/A with Sharon Calahan, ASC". Archived from the original on 2017-09-13.
  9. ^ Wolff, Ellen (December 21, 2014). "The Evolving Role of the CG Director of Photography". Animation Magazine. Retrieved 2018-09-16.
  10. ^ "The American Society of Cinematographers". Retrieved 2018-09-19.

External linksEdit