Eight-time Oscar nominee Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC will receive the 2011 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award. The presentation will be made during the 25th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards celebration at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on Feb. 13, 2011.
“The Lifetime Achievement Award is a reflection of the impact that a cinematographer has made on the art of filmmaking rather than the capping of a career,” says ASC president Michael Goi. “It is our way of acknowledging a true artist in his prime. Roger Deakins raises the artistic profile of our profession with every movie and he will continue to do so for many years.”
Deakins has earned Oscar nominations for The Shawshank Redemption (1994), Fargo (1996), Kundun (1997), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000), The Man Who Wasn’t There (2001), The Assassination of Jesse James and the Coward Robert Ford (2007), No Country for Old Men (2007) and The Reader (shared with Chris Menges, ASC, BSC, 2008).
His peers nominated all eight of those films and Revolutionary Road (2008) for ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards for feature film cinematography. Deakins claimed top ASC honors for The Shawshank Redemption and The Man Who Wasn’t There.
“I had mixed emotions when I was told about this recognition,” Deakins says. “To be honest, I am flattered, but I also feel like I am only just getting started. I’m enjoying what I do more than I ever have and there seems to be so much more I want to do. I feel like I’m getting this award about halfway through my career. It is great to realize that my colleagues watch my work and get something out of it.”
ASC Awards Committee chairman Richard Crudo observes, “Roger Deakins overcame formidable obstacles during the dawn of his career and went on to help create some of the most memorable films of our times. Roger has inspired young and older filmmakers to pursue what sometimes seems like impossible dreams.”
Deakins blazed a non-traditional career path. He was born and raised in the seaside town of Torquay in Devon, England. As a boy, Deakin’s passion was for painting but when he enrolled in the Bath Academy of Art his interest shifted to photography. When Deakins wasn’t taking pictures, he was in the darkroom processing film and making prints.
After a brief stint as a professional photographer, Deakins continued his education at the National Film School in London. Deakins estimates that over three years he shot more than 15 films for student directors, both dramatic films and documentaries ranging from 30 to 90 minutes each.
After graduation, he primarily spent the first seven years of his career shooting documentaries, the first of which required him to play the role of crew member as well as director/cameraman during a nine-month yacht race around the world.
Deakins went on to work on many documentaries for British television, which included films on the liberation wars in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) and Eritrea, a study of mental patients within the UK National Health Service, and the life of the Nuba people of Southern Sudan.
His first of some 50 narrative film credits was in 1983 for Another Time, Another Place, which aired on Channel 4 in England.
“I’ve always chosen to work on films that are more than entertainment,” he says. “I believe film can also be provocative and send audiences home thinking.”
Deakins has collaborated with an impressive array of directors, including Sam Mendes, Martin Scorsese, Ron Howard, Norman Jewison, Ed Zwick, Andrew Dominik and Michael Apted. True Grit, which is slated for release in December, is his 11th co-venture with brothers Ethan and Joel Coen at the helm.