Sherwood "Woody" Omens, ASC will receive the
2006 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Presidents Award, which is
reserved for individuals who have made exceptional contributions to advancing
the art and craft of filmmaking. The presentation will be made during the 20th
Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards gala here at the Century Plaza Hotel
on February 26, 2006.
"Woody Omens has earned the admiration and respect of his peers for both his
extraordinary achievements as a cinematographer and his dedication to
mentoring the next generation of filmmakers," says Russ Alsobrook, ASC, chair
of the organization's Awards Committee. "He has made an indelible impression
on the art of filmmaking."
Omen's feature film credits include HISTORY OF THE WORLD: PART I, COMING TO
AMERICA and HARLEM NIGHTS. He earned three consecutive Emmy® Awards for AN
EARLY FROST (1986), HEART OF THE CITY (1987) and I SAW WHAT YOU DID (1988), as
well as nominations for MAGNUM P.I.: MEMORIES ARE FOREVER (1981) and EVERGREEN
(1985). He also shared an Academy Award® nomination in 1972 for the short
documentary SOMEBODY WAITING.
In 1989, Omens became a full professor at his alma mater, the University of
Southern California (USC) School of Cinema-Television, where he mentored
hundreds of future cinematographers, directors, writers and other filmmakers
for 15 years. He is now Professor Emeritus.
"When I was a working cinematographer, I had a sample reel of my best films,"
Omens says. "I was proud of my work. Now, I'm proud of my students who are out
there in the world making their films. My students are my new sample reel."
Omens joins a diverse and distinguished list of former recipients of the ASC
Presidents Award, including actor Robert Duvall; visual effects pioneers
Linwood Dunn, ASC, Hans Koenekamp, ASC, Douglas Trumbull and Howard Anderson,
Jr., ASC; Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown; camera designers Tak Miyagishima
and Albert Mayer, Jr.; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles; archivist Kemp
Niver, ASC; and cinematographers William Clothier, ASC, Charles Wheeler, ASC,
Guy Green, BSC, Ralph Woolsey, ASC and Richard Moore, ASC.
"Woody Omens is a talented artist who has made significant contributions to
advancing the art and craft of filmmaking," says ASC President Richard Crudo.
"He is a role model and a source of inspiration for every filmmaker with
Omens was born in Chicago, and raised in Chicago and Los Angeles. He is a
graduate of the Art Institute of Chicago (1959). Omens taught art at a junior
high school in Oak Park, Illinois, and painted during his spare time. When an
exhibitor suggested that he take pictures of his paintings, Omens experimented
with still photography, which led to his interest in moviemaking.
He enrolled at USC in 1962, and earned a master's degree in filmmaking (1965).
After graduation, Omens shot documentaries and television commercials for
around a dozen years until the camera Guild finally opened its doors, giving
him the opportunity to venture into narrative filmmaking.
"It was an experimental time for commercials," he says. "I was learning my
craft and getting to use the best equipment. I would watch my dailies and
decide to be a little more daring next time by turning more lights off and
letting the shadows go darker."
Omens shot his first television movie ISHI: THE LAST OF HIS TRIBE in 1978. His
career quickly shifted into high gear. After joining the ASC in 1985, Omens'
boyhood friend Michael Margulies, ASC conceived the idea for an event
celebrating the art of cinematography. Omens played a vital role in organizing
the inaugural ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards held in 1987. He and
Margulies co-chaired the event during its formative years.
"I give Michael a lot of credit for understanding the need for
cinematographers to recognize their peers and other people whose work we
admire," Omens says. "The annual ASC Awards are designed to recognize and
inspire artistic filmmaking."
Omens won an ASC Outstanding Achievement Award in 1987 for his two-hour pilot
HEART OF THE CITY.
Omens is currently dedicating himself to raising funds and planning programs
for the new ASC Technology and Education Center, which will be dedicated to
research and education and exploring the possibilities for advancing film and
digital art in the future. He was also recently appointed vice chair of the
Student Academy Awards Executive Committee of the Academy of Motion Picture
Arts and Sciences.
"Filmmaking is an important form of artistic expression," he says. "Those of
us who have been privileged to work in this industry have an obligation to
insure its future."
The ASC traces its roots to the dawn of the motion picture industry in 1913,
when the first generation of cinematographers began holding informal meetings
in New York and Los Angeles to share ideas. They were literally inventing a
new language for telling stories with moving images. That led to the
organization of ASC by 15 charter members in 1919. The primary purpose of the
new organization was to advance the art and craft of filmmaking. There are
some 275 members today with roots in many different countries, and 140
associate members who work in ancillary sectors of the industry.
For an extended conversation with Omens and information about ASC and the 20th
Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards, visit www.theasc.com.
"Woody" Omens Will Receive ASC Presidents Award
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