One Big Planet

​“It is worth noting that the ASC is an international organization with members in dozens of countries, as well as the first such organization devoted to cinematography.​”

As I write this, countries are once again closing or closely monitoring borders — with limited success, it seems — reminding us once more that we all share the same planet. In this issue, with its special focus on international production, it is worth noting that the ASC is an international organization with members in dozens of countries, as well as the first such organization devoted to cinematography. Therefore, restrictions such as the closing of borders are anathema to us. Hopefully, in the U.S., we will see immigration reform bring some order to our policies.

ASC President Stephen Lighthill (Photo by Michael M. Pessah, ASC)

The ASC is 102 this year, and for the past 40 years or so, as production became global and crews international, we have actively pursued membership for cinematographers of extraordinary accomplishment regardless of their country of origin (and regardless of culture, gender, religion, politics and such). We are looking forward to the point when we can get back to welcoming cinematographers to our biennial International Cinematography Summit this year (or next) at the ASC Clubhouse in Hollywood.

In 2020, life alternated between being “miserable” and “horrible,” as Woody Allen succinctly put it to Diane Keaton in Annie Hall. Had he specifically been describing last year, Woody might have said that life alternated between incompetence and idiocy. At the ASC, we made good use of the bad time, no matter how unhappy we were, redesigning the pages you are looking at now. We also redesigned the ASC rules of governance, and at least two of our fellow cinematography organizations in other countries have asked to consult with us as they rewrite their rules, and also consider their issues of diversity. In addition, the ASC formalized our membership with the international organization of cinematography societies, IMAGO, and we look forward to engaging with our counterparts in the many participating nations. 

The ASC also began the now-intensive schedule of — online — ASC Master Classes. These three-day sessions have a substantial number of international students, since traveling to the Clubhouse is not necessary. We are proud of the work Society members Shelly Johnson, Charlie Lieberman, Steven Fierberg, David Mullen, Nancy Schreiber and Gil Hubbs did in planning them, and of the very impressive contributions of our instructors so far: ASC members David, Charlie, Larry Fong, Lawrence Sher, Michael Goi, Fred Elmes, Jacek Laskus, Suki Medencevic, Phedon Papamichael, Erik Messerschmidt and Roberto Schaefer, and ASC associates Joshua Pines and Joachim Zell, along with the numerous ASC members who tuned in as ambassadors for the students to talk to — including, but not limited to, Steve Shaw, Amy Vincent and Polly Morgan.

We have in this issue stories from New Zealand, China, Mexico, Estonia and Cuba — as well as pieces on Ben Joiner, ASC and his work across the globe on The Grand Tour, and Steven Fierberg, ASC who shares his observations about working in France while he shot Emily in Paris. The takeaway, as with most things international: “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.” We all live on one big planet.

Stephen Lighthill 
President, ASC


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