- NORTH HOLLYWOOD, Calif.
After two years off due to the COVID pandemic, the Emerging Cinematographer Awards (ECA) returned as the International Cinematographers Guild (ICG, IATSE Local 600) honored 10 aspiring DPs during a ceremony and screening on Sunday (10/2) in the Television Academy’s Wolf Theatre at the Saban Media Center in North Hollywood. The proceedings also included the presentation of the ICG’s Distinguished Filmmaker Award to Lawrence Sher, ASC, best known for his films in the Hangover series and Joker, the latter earning him Best Cinematography Oscar, BAFTA, ASC and BSC Award nominations in 2020.
The ECA event premiered 10 winning short films, selected from more than 100 submissions. The 2022 ECA class consists of:
- Andrew Aiello for the short Green Cobra
- Austin Scott Ahlborg for Lotus
- Jason Chau for Sting
- Jac Cheairs for KENOBI: A Star Wars Fan Film
- Morgan Gardiner for Molly Robber
- Eric M. Hurt for Singularity
- Allie Schultz for Your Monster
- Gregor Tavenner for Pleasant Canyon
- Michael P. Tedford for Elder Scrolls: Legends--E3 Trailer
- And Leonard P. Walsh II for Kingsnake
In his opening remarks, Baird B. Steptoe Sr., national president of the ICG, shared that it was gratifying after a two-year ECA shutdown to once again celebrate the lensing talent of artists who have “not yet been classified as DPs” but once the industry sees their work--starting with this evening’s showcase--it “will not take long” for them to be recognized as viable cinematographers.
Past ICG national president Steven Poster, ASC who along with Jimmy Matlosz chairs the ICG’s ECA committee, then addressed the industry turnout, noting that the ECA, now in its 24th year, is the only awards show in the industry that specifically celebrates the work of up-and-coming cinematographers, helping to nurture their talent and showcase their work. This non-profit event directly benefits the ICG Scholarship & Preservation Fund and is a critical part of the Guild’s mission in developing the next generation of cinematographers.
The ECA competition gives Local 600 members an opportunity to present themselves as DPs by submitting a short film with a running time of 30 minutes or less for consideration. The awards are open to any member of the Guild who is not already classified as a DP. The films are selected by a panel of ICG members from across the country and can also be seen by a wider audience at selected film festivals throughout the year, including Camerimage in Poland.
Earlier in the weekend, this year’s 10 ECA winners received practical career advice from DP agents Erin Searcy and Daniel Starikov of WPA. Searcy and Starikov were on hand to offer career counsel, discussed agent and DP strategies, standards for professional behavior and answered assorted questions from the ECA honorees.
Lawrence Sher, ASC
Cinematographer/director Sher came on stage to accept the Distinguished Filmmaker Award, presented by Panavision sr. VP David Dodson.
As a cinematographer, Sher has shot over 35 feature films, numerous pilots and hundreds of commercials and music videos in his 30 years in the entertainment industry. Known for such films as The Hangover trilogy, Garden State, Due Date and Joker, Sher has seen his films gross more than $4 billion in worldwide box office.
Sher’s DC/Warner Bros film Black Adam will be released on October 21. He is currently prepping a future installment of Joker that shoots at the end of this year. As a director, he recently helped kickstart the Peacock original series Rutherford Falls, directing multiple episodes, including the pilot. Sher is on the commercial directors’ roster of production house brother. He is also a board member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).
In addition to his work as a filmmaker, Sher built the website service Shotdeck.com. After years of prepping for films and needing reference material for research and inspiration in all phases of the production process, he created a site that would be an image database of infinitely searchable shots each keyworded in dozens of categories that would become the definitive visual library of the moving image.
In his acceptance remarks, Sher praised the stellar work of the ECA honorees. An ICG member since 2000, Sher said the ECA event underscores what he loves about the industry--namely that you can work in the camera department, assist, operate and move up the ranks over time. He advised the ECA winners to continue to be risk takers, which means at times having to take the harder path. But facing challenges and moving outside your comfort zone leads to better work creatively and artistically. “Take risks, be gentle and kind with yourself, be patient,” recommended Sher who noted that he assisted for 10 years, finally deciding it was time to “drop the safety net” and become a DP, which was “scary as shit.” Still Sher realizes he hasn’t yet arrived, quipping that his wife, Hema, whose support and love nurtured his career, reminds him that he is “still an emerging filmmaker” and “an emerging human being.”
Sher is also providing this year’s ECA honorees with free access to Shotdeck for at least three years.
Patti Lee, ASC
Earlier during Friday’s (10/2) ECA luncheon at the ASC Clubhouse, Patti Lee, ASC, was presented with the ASC Mentor Award.\
Lee received her bachelor’s degree from UCLA film school, and began her career lighting feature films, commercials, music videos, and television shows, working first as a set lighting technician and then becoming a gaffer. All during that time, she continued to sharpen her skills as a cinematographer on independent projects, including the Independent Spirit Award nominee, Bunny. Lee got her first big break as a DP on The Bernie Mac Show. Since then, she has been busy shooting both single and multi-camera television and has received Emmy nominations for her work on Bob Hearts Abishola, Call Me Kat and Superior Donuts.
In addition to her work as a DP, Lee produced the Emmy-nominated feature documentary A Small Act, which premiered at Sundance and aired on HBO. The film was named by Roger Ebert as one of “The Best Documentaries of 2010.”