The ASC recently welcomed cinematographer Jo Willems into the ranks of active membership.
Born in Belgium in 1970, Willems moved with his family to the Central African Republic at the age of 14. While attending a French school there, he became interested in photography, taking many photos with his father’s Leica M6. He also nurtured a budding interest in cinema at a local video store run by a French cinephile.
In 1989, Willems moved to Brussels to study filmmaking at Saint Lucas Art School, where one of his instructors was cinematographer Willy Stassen, current president of the Belgian Society of Cinematographers (SBC). He followed this with a postgraduate course at London Film School, and then started working in the industry as an electrician. Willems recalls working for Slawomir Idziak, PSC, during this time as one of the formative experiences of his career.
Three years later, Willems landed his first cinematography job, a short film, and that led to shooting music videos and commercials. Around this time he met director David Slade, and the two formed a friendship and creative partnership that continues to this day. Their first feature collaboration, Hard Candy, attracted attention at the Sundance Film Festival, and their work together since has included the film 30 Days of Night and the pilot for Awake.
Willems has also enjoyed multiple collaborations with director Francis Lawrence, including three Hunger Games movies: Catching Fire and Mockingjay Part 1 and Part 2. His feature credits also include Neil Burger’s Limitless, P.J. Hogan’s Confessions of a Shopaholic and Hunter Richards’ London.