The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents July 2010 Return to Table of Contents
I Am Love
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up

“Just what do you all do at the Clubhouse, and why do you need one?”

Every so often I get that question, and I don’t know that I’ve really ever given a comprehensive reply because the scope of the ASC’s activities, and how much having the Clubhouse affects them, is a massive topic.

The ASC Clubhouse is one of the oldest buildings in Hollywood. Since we took possession of it in 1936, from silent-film star Conway Tearle, it has gained almost mythic status in the motion-picture industry. In addition to housing the oldest organization in the American film industry, it serves as a museum for the tools used to create moving images, an archive of the methods and practices used by some of the world’s greatest cinematographers, and most importantly, an inspiration for those who intend to make the craft their life’s work. It is the house where cinematography lives, the iconic representation of the very best visual artists in the business. There is literally nothing like it in the entire world.

Almost a decade ago, the ASC began discussing how to renovate the building to better suit our needs without losing the classic feel of the architecture and the distinct visual accents that everyone has come to expect when they walk through its doors. The construction process began in earnest four years ago, when we moved out to accommodate soil tests, wall and ceiling exploratory excavations, and other structural examinations necessary for a building the Clubhouse’s age. At that time, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences generously helped us by offering office space for ASC and American Cinematographer staff so our operations could continue.

The building project needed to be chaired by an ASC member who knew the history of the place and why it was important to preserve what made it the Clubhouse. Owen Roizman, ASC rose to the challenge and spent thousands of hours poring over blueprints and design spec sheets filled with millions of minute details, any of which could have derailed the project if they had not been correct. ASC honorary member Brian Spruill, whose memory for detail was invaluable when we were trying to recall whether a certain type of electrical fixture that was discussed seven months earlier matched the one that had been ordered, aided Owen in this endeavor. And because you can’t enter into something of this scope without considerable capital, George Spiro Dibie, ASC took on the role of Fundraising Chairman and became a crucial part of the process.

The newly refurbished ASC Clubhouse enables the Society to expand its educational outreach not only domestically, but also internationally. New generations of filmmakers will benefit from the kinds of programs made possible by this renovation and will perpetuate the spirit of artistry that resides within its walls. But most importantly, it gives us back the heart and soul of the Society. When we hang out in the lounge, meet in the boardroom, or chat in the great room’s seating area, the mythical magic that exists within the Clubhouse walls is made real. Because it is truly a clubhouse, a place where members can relax, the kinds of monumental ideas that result from the interaction we share there can seem to happen almost by accident. Whether it be a new lighting effect that one of us discovered on a film or the exploration of technologies that will shape the future of the products the industry will use, being in that building and experiencing the camaraderie and openness with which ASC members express their ideas is akin to being in that cornfield in Field of Dreams. You just can’t believe it can get any better.

Cinematographers of the future, your unending quest for excellence in your craft does have a pinnacle, and that is the feeling you get every time you walk through the gates of the ASC Clubhouse and feel the spirit of the many great cinematographers who came before you. To my contemporaries in the ASC, who share your stories of those little visual things you did that may end up being iconic images in motion-picture history, I am pleased to say we’ve got our mojo back. Welcome home.


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