Stephen Burum Named UCLA Cinematographer
LOS ANGELES, April 6, 2007—Stephen H. Burum, ASC has been named Kodak Cinematographer In Residence for the spring quarter at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film and Television. The annual residency program was inaugurated by Professor William McDonald in 2000, and is sponsored by Kodak.
“Steve Burum is an innovative cinematographer who has created an important body of work since he graduated from UCLA,” McDonald says. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for our students to gain insights into the collaborative art of filmmaking and get first-hand advice from a uniquely talented filmmaker.”
Burum’s residency program will begin with a screening of a 70 mm print of Casualties of War at the James Bridges Theater on the UCLA campus in Westwood. The screening will begin at 7:30 p.m. on April 16. Afterwards, Burum will discuss and answer questions about that memorable 1989 film, which paints a vivid portrait of a dark side of the war in Vietnam. It was the third of his eight collaborations with director Brian De Palma.
Burum is an alumnus of both the UCLA undergraduate and graduate Theater Arts programs. He earned an Oscar® nomination and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Outstanding Achievement Award in 1992 for Hoffa. Burum was also nominated by his peers for ASC Awards for The Untouchables and The War of the Roses. Some of his most memorable credits include The Outsiders, Something Wicked This Way Comes, Rumble Fish, St. Elmo’s Fire, Carlito’s Way, Mission: Impossible, The Shadow and Snake Eyes, among others.
Burum will also conduct eight lighting workshops for students. McDonald points out that cinematographers use light and darkness the same way that writers use words, artists choose paint from their palettes, and composers select notes to create music.
“Lighting is an art that requires mastering a complex and constantly changing science, along with an ability to communicate with the director and various other collaborators,” he says. “No two cinematographers do it exactly the same way.”
Burum will hold weekly office hours to meet with individual students to talk and answer their questions.
“When I was a student at UCLA, I was mentored by various talented and generous filmmakers who gave me the benefit of their experience,” he says. “The short list includes Arthur Ripley, Dorothy Arzner, Henry Koster, Charlie Clarke (ASC) and Bill Abbott. They were all legendary filmmakers who helped to put my generation of students on the right track. One of the lessons that I learned is that we all have an obligation to reach out to the next generation.”
Burum was born and raised in a rural community near Fresno, California. He began shooting 8 mm movies as a hobby during his early teens. After graduating from UCLA, Burum was a cameraman for a 16 mm nature film series produced by Walt Disney Studios. He has vivid memories of conversations with Disney.
After serving a two-year military obligation in the U.S. Army, Burum shot a series of low- budget, independent films, including several cult favorites, e.g., Scream Bloody Murder and Land of the Lost. Burum also shot live, taped and filmed television programs, including the documentary series Cosmos. He shared an Emmy® for visual effects camerawork on that TV series, which featured astronomer Carl Sagan.
His UCLA classmate Francis Ford Coppola asked Burum to serve in a dual role as second unit director/cinematographer during the production of Apocalypse Now, which earned two Oscars and four other nominations in 1979. After Burum lensed The Escape Artist, produced by Coppola and directed by Caleb Deschanel, ASC in 1982, his career shifted into high gear.
Burum joins a distinguished list of participants in the Kodak Cinematographer In Residence program, including Dean Cundey, ASC; Allen Daviau, ASC; Conrad Hall, ASC; Owen Roizman, ASC; Laszlo Kovacs, ASC; Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC; and Joan Churchill, ASC.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for UCLA students and faculty,” says Wendy Elms, worldwide manager, Education Segment, for Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging division. “Steve Burum is a remarkably talented cinematographer, who has helped to create some of the most memorable films of our times. I am confident that students who participate in this program will look back on this experience in the future as a turning point in their own lives and careers.”
For more information about the April 16 screening of Casualties of War, visit www.tft.ucla.edu or call (310) 206-8365. Admission is free. There is an $8 parking fee. For more information about Kodak, visit www.kodak.com/go/motion.
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