Frederick Elmes, ASC to Be Honored By AFI

Frederick Elmes, ASC, teaching at the first ASC International Master Class, held in Toronto.

On June 8, 2017, the American Film Institute will present Frederick Elmes, ASC with their 27th annual Franklin J. Schaffner Alumni Medal.

This honor recognizes the extraordinary creative talents of an AFI alumnus or alumna who embodies the qualities of filmmaker Franklin J. Schaffner: talent, taste, dedication and commitment to quality storytelling in film and television.

From among a community of nearly 5,000 AFI graduates, previous recipients of this award include Darren Aronofsky, Lesli Linka Glatter, Patty Jenkins, Janusz Kaminski, David Lynch, Terrence Malick and Wally Pfister, ASC.

The presentation to Elmes (AFI Class of 1972) will take place during the AFI Life Achievement Award Gala Tribute to Diane Keaton in Los Angeles.



Over the past five decades, Elmes has brought to the screen films directed by John Cassavetes, David Lynch, Jim Jarmusch, Ang Lee and Diane Keaton, with whom he collaborated on her directorial debut, Heaven. He has received a Primetime Emmy nomination, two Film Independent Spirit Awards and a New York Film Critics Circle Award, among other accolades.


Elmes (standing on dolly) shooting the provocative net-noir mystery Blue Velvet for director David Lynch (at eyepiece).
Elmes (standing on dolly) shooting the provocative net-noir mystery Blue Velvet for director David Lynch (at eyepiece).

After graduating from the AFI, the cinematographer found work as a camera assistant and operator, working on independent films including A Woman Under the Influence and The Killing of a Chinese Bookie.

Elmes’ breakthrough project was iconic indie feature Eraserhead, directed by Lynch — which began as a project at the AFI.

Elmes’ diverse and influential feature film credits include EraserheadValley Girl, River’s EdgeBlue VelvetWild At Heart, Night on Earth, The Saint of Fort Washington, Ride with the Devil, The Ice Storm, Hulk, Coffee and Cigarettes, Broken Flowers, Synecdoche, New York, Horns and Paterson. His television work includes In the Gloaming, Olive Kitteridge and The Night Of.


Recently, Elmes has taken part as an instructor with the ASC International Master Class program, teaching advanced cinematography students in Toronto and Beijing.

He has been a member of the ASC since 1993.

Elmes and director Ang Lee while filming their period drama The Ice Storm.

Elmes at work setting a shot while shooting his most recent feature, the poetic indie drama Paterson.

Elmes’ recent feature Paterson, directed by longtime friend and collaborator Jim Jarmusch was the subject of discussion for a feature interview in American Cinematographer.

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