CineLife industry insiders give you a glimpse into the making and distribution of noteworthy films, the film festivals that showcase them, and the amazing locations that exhibit them.

Female DP’s Making The Cut

By: Mark Ehrenkranz

Mudbound’s Rachel Morrison became the first woman ever nominated for an Oscar for cinematography. The recognition is long overdue and was given to all men since the awards began in 1929. The 2018 Academy Award ended up going to the camera giant Roger Deakins who shot Fargo, Shawshank Redemption, and many other classic movies even though top women have been recently creeping up.

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), of which Morrison is a member, was founded in 1919. It didn’t invite a woman to join until 1980, when it admitted Brianne Murphy, reportedly the first woman to work as a cinematographer on a major Hollywood studio film (Fatso, directed by Anne Bancroft). As of 2015, just 4% of the ASC’s members were women, and last year, the society gave its president’s award to a woman for the first time. The recipient was Nancy Schreiber who’s been making movies since 1975 including Loverboy for The Bacons, Todd Berger’s IT’S A DISASTER and heaps of other great classic independent filmmaking.

Rachel Morrison

The cinematographer or director of photography (DP) is the director’s right hand on set. It’s a grueling job, combining artistry, advanced technical knowledge, and team management. The DP chooses the camera, lens, and lighting for each shot, and directs a team of electricians and camera operators. A good cinematographer works closely with the director to achieve the desired visual effect in each scene. Great ones impart their unique vision to the film, which has been referred to as “painting with light.”

Recent female superstar shooters have been: Reed Moreno (Vinyl), Ellen Kuras, who has regularly collaborated with Spike Lee and Michel Gondry and has shot films such as The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Summer of Sam. Recent critical successes The Levelling (Nanu Segal), Hidden Figures (Mandy Walker), The Neon Demon (Natasha Braier), Fences and Molly’s Game (Charlotte Bruus Christensen) all had female cinematographers.

Ellen Kuras

Just recently The American Film Institute announced it is launching a four-day cinematography workshop for women interested in a career in that field. The inaugural program, dubbed the AFI Cinematography Introductory Intensive for Women and sponsored by 21st Century Fox, will be held Aug. 3-6 at the institute’s Hollywood campus.

The tuition-free program, introducing the fundamentals of visual storytelling with the goal of increasing the number of women cinematographers, will be led by members of the AFI cinematography faculty as well as guests and will include production workshops, discussions and screenings of the work of pioneering female cinematographers and more. The American Society of Cinematographers will support the program through its ASC Vision Committee, which is dedicated to the advancement of underrepresented cinematographers and their crews, regardless of race, gender or age.

AFI Workshop

Also, Twentieth Century Fox Film and AFI will partner to launch the Fox DP Lab for 10 to 15 recently graduated female cinematographers from the AFI Conservatory. The lab will include master classes aimed at demystifying the hiring process, and participants will meet with executives responsible for recommending and approving cinematographers in film and television; they will see an in-production film and/or Fox series, and have the opportunity to hear from fellow cinematographers working at Fox for career guidance. Applications for that program — exclusively for AFI cinematography alumnae — will open in August.

The AFI currently offers two-year MFA degree in six filmmaking disciplines: cinematography, directing, editing, producing, production design and screenwriting. Female cinematographers to come from conservatory include Rachel Morrison (Mudbound, Black Panther), Melina Matsoukas (Beyoncé’s Formation, Insecure, as director), Ava Berkofsky (Insecure), Carolina Costa (Flower), Autumn Durald (Palo Alto) and Lisa Wiegand (Law & Order True Crime).

Kindness is the Reason The Shape of Water Won Best Picture

Much like The Artist, some will say that Guillermo Del Toro’s The Shape of Water won this year’s best picture Oscar® being an homage to the movies loved by Hollywood. The iconic image of an amphibious humanoid cradling an unconscious woman is a direct reference to The Creature from the Black Lagoon. There are also… Continue Reading

40 Years of Celebrating the Dance Under the Sun. Part 1 of 2

By: Mark Ehrenkranz In the tradition of independence, religious persecution and the assassination of their leader Joseph Smith, the first group of Mormons headed westward for the hills along the California Trail. Brigham Young led a group of two children, three women, and 143 men. They traveled on horseback or in oxen-pulled wagons for three months;… Continue Reading

2017 Past, Present, Future

By Mark Ehrenkranz After the cooler months, it is in our DNA that we look forward to the Summer and a nostalgic time of great movies, sumptuous weather and vacations. It usually goes quickly as it only makes up 25% of our year. For many, September and the Fall is a time to get serious… Continue Reading

A Conversation with Shooting Star Director Ben Safdie

By Brian Brooks, Three years after their acclaimed Heaven Knows What, local filmmakers Josh and Ben Safdie return to a sinister New York for their latest film, Good Time. This time, the duo upped the ante with a cast that includes Twilight star Robert Pattinson along with Jennifer Jason Leigh, Oscar nominee Barked Abdi (Captain… Continue Reading

Sofia Coppola – An America Masterpiece

By Brian Brooks Filmmaker Sofia Coppola’s family name is recognizable to nearly any movie fan. She is, of course, the daughter of famed director Francis Ford Coppola who has followed in her father’s footsteps, but she has paved her own path resulting in a number of pioneering accomplishments to her name. Ms. Coppola received an… Continue Reading

Film Festivals: The True Movie Going Experience

By Brian Brooks, The experience of walking the red carpet while cameras are flashing in Cannes may still be elusive for most, but enjoying a film festival experience, meeting filmmakers, celebs and going to parties is certainly not a totally exclusive realm for the privileged few. There is scarcely any time on the calendar when… Continue Reading

Noah Baumbach Interview Curated by Dustin Hoffman

Article by Brian Brooks: Oscar-nominated filmmaker Noah Baumbach was the focus of an hour-long conversation at the Tribeca Film Festival, though his screen-legend moderator certainly shared the limelight from the stage in a packed theater in Lower Manhattan. Two-time Academy Award Best Actor winner Dustin Hoffman lead the chat which was imbued with heavy doses… Continue Reading

Danny Boyle Talks T2 at 67th Berlin International Film Festival

Back in 1996, British filmmaker Danny Boyle traversed the cultural zeitgiest with his black comedy/drama Trainspotting. Starring Ewan McGregor, Ewen Bremner, Johnny Lee Miller, Robert Carlyle and Kelly MacDonald, the film, based on the novel by Irvine Welsh, follows a cadre of heroin users in a working class neighborhood of Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh. Two… Continue Reading

CineLife’s Top Twenty Movies at Sundance pt. 4

The final entry into the 2017 Sundance Film Festival article. Be sure to see the previous articles here. Part 1. Part 2. Part3. Step (U.S. Documentary Competition) Director: Amanda Lipitz Insiders have talked this up as a strong contender for the Audience Award. The film has a focus on female empowerment and solidarity, which perhaps… Continue Reading