The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry
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Presidents Desk
The Affair
Power Rangers
ASC Close-Up
Michael Weaver

Michael Weaver, ASC

When you were a child, what film made the strongest impression on you?

The Godfather (1972). I recall seeing it when I was about 10. I had never felt transported to another place and time in that way.

Which cinematographers, past or present, do you most admire?

That's an extremely long list. I’d have to say the biggest influences on me have been [ASC members] Conrad Hall, Gordon Willis, Emmanuel Lubezki, Roger Deakins and Robert Richardson.

What sparked your interest in photography?

In college I took an entry-level photography class as an elective. I fell in love with the chemical process and printing. The possibilities seemed limitless.

Where did you train and/or study?

San Jose State University, but I really started to learn by shooting industrials.

Who were your early teachers or mentors?

I think my greatest teachers and mentors were the cameramen I was able to collaborate with during my decade as a gaffer. I was fortunate to work with some very generous cinematographers: Vance Burberry; James Glennon, ASC; Feliks Parnell; Kees van Oostrum, ASC; Jeff Jur, ASC; Edward Pei, ASC, and Levie Isaacks, ASC — the list goes on. They all left an impression on me. It was a great bonus in my development to carry some of the knowledge and experience of each of these guys with me as I moved forward.

What are some of your key artistic influences?

The cinema of the 1970s, Edward Hopper paintings, and anything and everything created by Conrad Hall and Martin Scorsese.

How did you get your first break in the business?

I got an internship at Lockheed in the film-and-video department during the thriving industrial-film days of 1980s Silicon Valley. It was a creative environment where we were free to experiment and self-educate. Through that internship, I landed my first job on a feature with an indie producer who worked there. I was able to go to Puerto Rico and operate a Panaflex for the first time. By take two, I knew there was no going back.

What has been your most satisfying moment on a project?

I don’t allow myself a lot of victories. I fear that the day I feel satisfied is the day I’m not trying hard enough.

Have you made any memorable blunders?

Only in my personal life.

What is the best professional advice you’ve ever received?

'Never show fear.'

What recent books, films or artworks have inspired you?

I was inspired by the scale and vision of the work on Gravity.

Do you have any favorite genres, or genres you would like to try?

A Western or a period gangster piece.

If you weren’t a cinematographer, what might you be doing instead?

I set out to be a psychologist, but there was too much homework.

Which ASC cinematographers recommended you for membership?

David Klein, Ken Zunder and Adam Kane.

How has ASC membership impacted your life and career?

It’s given me a greater sense of responsibility in regard to the craft — to uphold tradition and pass it along.


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