Friend of the ASC Dan Kneece Passes

A close collaborator with many Society members, the Steadicam expert, camera operator and cinematographer was just 64.

At top, Kneece leads his actors while shooting the short Piel Canela on location in Cuba. (Photo by Robert Primes, ASC)

The ASC was very sorry to hear of the death of Dan Kneece, who worked with numerous members over his long career. 

Born on Sept. 13, 1956, the filmmaker and South Carolina native died on August 7 and was just 64 years old.

Dan Kneece (Photo by Robert Primes, ASC)

As a boy, Kneece taught himself the fundamentals of filmmaking by shooting Super 8 shorts. A graduate of the University of South Carolina, he launched his professional career in 1979 at a local television station before moving to Los Angeles in the early 1980s and working for Cinema Products. There he was trained in Steadicam operation by the device’s inventor, Garrett Brown. He would go on to train numerous others, which changed the way motion pictures were made by creating new opportunities to tell cinematic stories.

Among Kneece’s many stand-out feature credits as an operator include Blue Velvet and Wild at Heart (both shot by Fred Elmes, ASC), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (Ron Garcia, ASC), Mulholland Drive and Lost Highway (both shot by Peter Deming, ASC), Jackie Brown (Guillermo Navarro, ASC, AMC), The Patriot (Caleb Deschanel, ASC), Bruce Almighty (Dean Semler, ASC, ACS), and The Number 23 (Matthew Libatique, ASC).

Most recently, AC covered Kneece’s collaboration with longtime friend Robert Primes, ASC on the 2019 short film Piel Canela, directed by Michelle Salcedo and shot on location in Cuba with a minimal crew.

He was also a cinematographer in his own right, shooting such feature projects as Southern Belles, Plastic Jesus, The Confession and Courting Chaos.

Among his accomplishments, Kneece co-founded the Steadicam Guild in 2002 and later served as president of the Society of Camera Operators (SOC) in 2007. 

Noted current SOC president George Billinger, “With his trademark head of hair and smooth southern drawl, he was always Dan. And the one and only. He was truly special.”

“Dan Kneece was a hard-working member and colleague with a ready smile and open arms that embraced all of us who knew and worked with him,” wrote Local 600 National President John Lindley, ASC in an announcement to union members. “The world was his friend. He leaves his legacy of kindness and warmth for us to carry on in his absence. We mourn his loss and extend condolences to his friends and family.”

Shooting Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 crime drama Jackie Brown, Steadicam/A-camera operator Kneece (behind camera), key grip Rick Stribling (on ledge) and dolly grip Robert “Dolly Bob” Ivanjack execute the film’s opening sequence — an extensive tracking shot on actress Pan Grier hustling through Los Angeles International Airport.
Shooting Quentin Tarantino’s 1997 crime drama Jackie Brown, Steadicam/A-camera operator Kneece (behind camera), key grip Rick Stribling (on ledge) and dolly grip Robert “Dolly Bob” Ivanjack execute the film’s opening sequence — an extensive tracking shot on actress Pan Grier hustling through Los Angeles International Airport.

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