The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Return to Table of Contents March 2011 Return to Table of Contents
The Adjustment Bureau
Career TV Award
Page 2
Presidents Award
Presidents Desk
DVD Playback
ASC Close-Up
In addition to Smith, O’Shea’s regular crew includes gaffer Jack Schlosser and key grip Jeff Case, who both started working with him on the 1993 feature Geronimo. Schlosser describes O’Shea as “extremely supportive. He is also very demanding — you can’t be sloppy around him — but that’s good because it makes you think and do better work. And lighting is very important to him.”

Cinematographer Denny Hall, whom O’Shea refers to as “my protégé,” observes, “Mike’s way of lighting expresses a lot about Mike himself. It can be soft; it can be hard; it can be warm; it can be deep and rich. Ultimately, it’s beautiful.

“It’s always a new journey in cinematography when you work with Mike,” continues Hall. “I learned something new every time I worked with him. He taught me to always stay calm and relaxed because the crew looks to the cameraman to set the tone of the shoot. And he taught me to be kind to everybody, from the drivers and craft service personnel to the producers.”

Key grip Case notes, “Mike takes the time to know crew members and their families. He runs the set well and is a great listener.”

Sean O’Shea, who frequently serves as first AC on his father’s projects, insists, “You can’t write an article about my dad without mentioning his sense of humor. He’s the funniest guy on the set.”

There seems to be universal agreement on that point. “He’s so witty,” affirms Ahern. “You can be in a crisis, and he’ll deliver a one-liner, and the look on his face and the tone in his voice and the words he uses are just hysterical. That one line can defuse everything.” After a pause, he adds impishly, “Or escalate it.”

“When Dad is at work, he likes to have a great time, but it can never get in the way of the work,” emphasizes Sean. “His work ethic is exceptional. He is tireless.”

O’Shea’s most recent TV series was Eli Stone. Director/producer David Petrarca worked with him on that series and several others, including Jack and Bobby. “My background is theater, so Mike was the first cinematographer I ever worked with,” says Petrarca. “I told him up front, ‘I’m good with story and actors, but I don’t know anything about directing TV or film.’ Now, Mike cuts a pretty intimidating figure. He smiled and said, ‘Listen, somebody helped me when I first started, and I’m going to help you.’ He proceeded to be an incredible gentleman, teacher and mentor who never usurped my position on set.

“I like to pride myself on the camerawork in my projects,” continues Petrarca, “and that comes from Mike. He gave me an appreciation and love for what the camera can do. He is a master of light and has a real sensitivity to story, and his humanity comes through in everything he does.”

O’Shea became an ASC member in 1996, after being proposed for membership by Flinn, Stevens and Donald M. Morgan. When he was notified that he had been selected to receive the Society’s Career Achievement in TV Award, he says, “it brought tears to my eyes. I feel very blessed in this business. A lot of people took a lot of time to teach me.

“Knowing that my wife, Sharon, was always by my side has been another blessing. She always stuck with me through the tough times, when work got slow, and has always been encouraging. She has been a gift in my life and my career.”

 

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