Tommy Maddox-Upshaw Welcomed into Society Membership

The Boston native’s credits include the television series Empire, Snowfall and On My Block.

Samantha Dillard

The Boston native’s credits include the television series Empire, Snowfall and On My Block.

New ASC member Tommy Maddox-Upshaw calls himself a reactionary artist who “aims to find the visual arc through collaboration with a director and other [department heads] on set to bring authentically memorable cinema that is honest to the script.” 

He grew up in the Boston neighborhood Mattapan but was schooled in the Boston suburb Newton.

Tommy Maddox-Upshaw, ASC (right) on the set of the series Snowfall.

Maddox-Upshaw attended the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Massachusetts. Since there was no film department, he focused on shooting black-and-white still photography as well as student video projects. When he was 18, he was hired as a production assistant and worked on sets in Boston and New York City. Once he was on set, albeit “picking up trash and fetching coffee,” Maddox-Upshaw says, he knew he was in the right place. “The collaborative role of the cinematographer sparked the bug and interest upon the first moments of being on set,” he adds.

Soon after, he transitioned to the grip and electric departments and joined IATSE Local 481 in Massachusetts. A few years later, with a desire to pursue a career as a director of photography, Maddox-Upshaw attended the American Film Institute and earned an MFA in cinematography.

After graduation, he served as a gaffer on numerous music videos and commercials for clients including Ford, Allstate and HBO, among many others. He developed many working relationships during this time, which led to opportunities to serve as a cinematographer by people such as Spike Lee and Matthew Libatique, ASC. He photographed the L.A. unit of the Michael Jackson documentary  Bad 25, directed by Lee, and VFX additional photography on A Star Is Born as well as second unit on Straight Outta Compton, both shot by Libatique. He also shot additional photography on the features Grown Ups 2, Beyond the Lights and The Circle.

Maddox-Upshaw served as director of photography on the features Kalushi: The Story of Solomon Mahlangu, Hello Beautiful: Interludes with John Legend, Hype Nation 3D, A Very Larry Christmas, The Perfect Match, 48 Hours to Live and Fixed.

Most recently, he photographed Season 6 of the Fox drama Empire. His television credits include Season 3 of the FX crime drama Snowfall, Season 2 of the Netflix teen comedy-drama On My Block and Season 1 of the Netflix comedy Huge in France. He also photographed the web series Ro and Ruth & Erica.

Complete details on the 15 founding members of the ASC can be found here.

A complete list of all active ASC members — since 1919 — can be downloaded here.

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