Allen Daviau, ASC will receive the American
Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is
presented annually to an individual who has made extraordinary and enduring
contributions to the art of filmmaking. Daviau will be feted at the 21st
Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards on February 18, 2007, at the Hyatt
Regency Century Plaza Hotel.
?Allen Daviau is still in the prime of his career, but he has already
created an innovative body of work that will stand the test of time,? says
Russ Alsobrook, ASC, who chairs the organization?s Awards Committee. ?He is an
awe-inspiring cinematographer who has earned the admiration of filmmakers
around the world.?
Daviau claimed the first of his five Oscar® nominations in 1983 for E.T.
THE EXTRA- TERRESTRIAL. His other nominations were for THE COLOR PURPLE
(1986), AVALON (1991), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1988) and BUGSY (1992). The latter
two films also took top honors at the ASC Awards, and EMPIRE OF THE SUN won
the BAFTA cinematography award, the British equivalent of an Oscar.
Daviau joins a formidable group of previous recipients, including George
Folsey, ASC; Joe Biroc, ASC; Charles Lang Jr., ASC; Phil Lathrop, ASC; Haskell
Wexler, ASC; Conrad L. Hall, ASC; Gordon Willis, ASC; Sven Nykvist, ASC; Owen
Roizman, ASC; Victor J. Kemper, ASC; Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC; William A. Fraker,
ASC, BSC; Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC; Laszlo Kovacs, ASC; Bill Butler, ASC;
Michael Chapman, ASC; Fred Koenekamp, ASC; and Richard Kline, ASC.
?When I was a teenager, I perfected the art of talking my way past studio
gate guards, so I could watch movies being made as well as the last years of
live television drama,? Daviau recalls. ?I have many wonderful memories. I
watched Charles Lang Jr. (ASC) light a close-up of Shirley Booth for a picture
called THE MATCHMAKER. Another time, I saw him light an immense hacienda scene
for ONE-EYED JACKS. Afterwards, he walked across the set to talk with Marlon
Brando who was the director. I thought he must have the best job in the
Daviau was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles. He was a movie
fan, avid still photographer, and the kid who lit stage plays in high school.
After graduation, he worked in camera stores and still film labs. He saved
enough money to buy a 16 mm camera and began shooting short films, including
some for students at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). One of
those films caught the eye of the producer of a new music program on KHJ-TV,
who offered Daviau a job.
?I was making $150 a week at the camera store and this job only paid
$100,? Daviau recalls, ?but I grabbed the opportunity to shoot and edit film
sequences every week. Some of them used the same visual language as the music
videos that came along years later.?
The program was cancelled after 13 weeks, but the producer organized a
company that created pre-MTV music videos for record companies that
distributed them to local TV stations. Daviau shot films with The Animals,
Jimi Hendrix and other popular performers. In 1967, a couple of aspiring
filmmakers named Ralph Burris and Steven Spielberg saw his work and asked for
his help on a 35 mm short film.
Daviau was the B camera operator. That project was never completed, but
it led to an opportunity for him to shoot AMBLIN for Spielberg in 1968. That
short film was a visual story with no dialogue. It caught the attention of top
management at Universal Studios, who brought Spielberg onboard initially
directing television films.
Daviau spent the next 10 years persistently pursuing his dream. He was a
lighting effects technician designer on a Roger Corman film, shot 16 mm
industrial and educational films, and 35 mm commercials. He also lensed
several David Wolper documentaries, including SAY GOODBYE, which was nominated
for an Oscar in 1971. During the mid-1970s, Daviau shot a couple of ultra low-
budget, independent features that played in theaters in the South and Midwest.
He joined the camera guild when it opened its ranks to a new generation
of cinematographers in 1978. That gave him an opportunity to work on
mainstream films with larger budgets, beginning with a television movie called
THE BOY WHO DRANK TOO MUCH, directed by his old friend Jerry (Jerrold)
Freedman. When Freedman told Spielberg that Daviau was in the union, Spielberg
had him shoot a two-day sequence in the desert for the new edition of CLOSE
ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND.
Spielberg's next project was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, where he met
Melissa Mathison. He told her of a long-term, science-fiction film titled
NIGHT SKIES. Together they transformed that work into E.T. THE EXTRA-
TERRESTRIAL, which became Daviau's first full-length feature. Principal
cinematography was completed in 61 days. They explored a world where fantasy
merges with reality. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL earned four Oscars and five
additional nominations, including Best Picture. It ranks near the top of the
list of all-time hits at the boxoffice.
Daviau has subsequently compiled some 25 additional narrative credits,
including such memorable films as two segments of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE,
THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN, FEARLESS and VAN HELSING. He says that his
television commercial work has given him the freedom to be patient and
discerning about choosing narrative projects.
?You better believe in a film and the director if you commit to it,
otherwise the passion isn?t going to be there,? he says. ?I?ve spent a lot of
time waiting for films that never happened. There have been some
disappointments, but I consider myself lucky to have had opportunities to work
on so many successful projects with wonderful people.?
ASC President Daryn Okada says, ?I am certain that some of Allen?s most
important work is still ahead of him, but he has already made an indelible
impression on the art of filmmaking. His determination to pursue a seemingly
impossible dream is a source of inspiration for filmmakers everywhere in the
The ASC traces its roots to the dawn of the motion picture industry in
1913, when the Cinema Club in New York and the Static Club in Los Angeles were
organized by the first generation of cinematographers, who were literally
inventing a new visual language. Fifteen members of those two clubs organized
the ASC in January 1919. They wrote a charter that dedicated the organization
to advancing the evolving art and craft of telling stories with moving images.
There are some 280 ASC members from many nations today, and 170 associate
members from allied sectors of the industry. For information about the 21st
Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards call 323-969-4333 or visit
Allen Daviau Named Recipient of Annual ASC Lifetime Achievement Award
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