The Society of Camera Operators 2012 lifetime achievement awards, held Feb. 19 at the Leonard Goldenson Theater in Hollywood, began with an introduction from David Frederick on a topic near and dear to the hearts of SOC members, the support of the Vision Center at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles – not your usual introduction for an awards show, but one that occupied center stage along with those honored. In an effort to raise awareness about preventing childhood blindness, the SOC showed a short documentary produced by members about a phenomenon that causes a child’s eyes to have a “golden glow” in photos instead of the common red-eye effect. This glow can be a sign of several eye diseases that can lead to blindness. Since a child goes blind every five seconds somewhere in the world, the theme of the evening, “know the glow” referred not just to the outstanding work of those showcased on this evening, but to a need for awareness and early detection that can prevent childhood blindness.
The awards continued with host Bruce Carse introducing SOC president Michael Frediani, who spoke of the “small organization with a huge heart” and went on to show that heart with the introduction of Kayla and Jeremy Radin, there to accept the 2012 President’s award on behalf of their father, Phil Radin, who was recovering from a massive heart attack he suffered several weeks ago.
“Part of this process since the heart attack, has been learning just how much my dad is loved and respected in this community,” said Jeremy Radin. “It’s not his way to talk about his life like that. He’s always had a knack for humbly underplaying his accomplishments.”
Rodrigo Prieto, Oscar-nominated cinematographer for Brokeback Mountain, took the podium to introduce the second lifetime achievement award to camera technician Zoran Veselic, and asked everyone to pardon his pun when he said, “His focus is impeccable!” Veselic after accepting his award said with dry humor that he wasn’t sure when Dave Frederick called him to tell him about the award if it was a practical joke or “maybe a hint to wrap up and move to Florida and start warming up for a good game of bingo.”
Stephen Campanelli took the stage to present the Governor’s award to Clint Eastwood. Campanelli has worked with Eastwood for 18 years, a bond that his bio says “has lasted longer than most Hollywood marriages.” He spoke of his amazement at being able to work with his boyhood idol and went on to win laughs from the crowd with his tale of setting up a scene on J. Edgar where Leonardo DiCaprio and Armie Hammer were to share their first kiss. He asked Eastwood, ”How long do you think the kiss will last?” Campanelli, imitating Eastwood’s famous laconic style, said he replied, “I don’t know. I never kissed a guy before.”
In accepting his award, Eastwood confessed that he attended the ACE awards the previous evening where he “lied a little bit” about the importance of the editor in the motion picture making process. On this evening, speaking to a roomful of camera operators, he joked “It’s the operators definitely… it’s a combination of the operator and focus puller too” that are the most important people on set.
Cinematographer and director David Boyd, whose credits include Get Low, Joyful Noise and The Walking Dead, presented the mobile camera platform operator award to Harry Rez, “a world class key grip and wonderful person with thanks for a lifetime of putting the motion in motion pictures.” Accepting the award Rez remarked, “I’m so proud of this award, I’m telling everybody, including total strangers who think I’m crazy.”
Garrett Brown, best known as the Oscar-winning inventor of the Steadicam, presented the historical shot award to George Richmond for his shot the Siege of Bexhill in The Children of Men, saying that it had “a fierce intent that matched the story.” George’s award was accepted by his father, award-winning cinematographer Tony Richmond as he was not able to accept his award in person. George said of the shot in his bio, “After all the planning and rehearsals, it was the dance between Clive Owen and the camera that made the shot so special and challenging.”
Award-winning celebrity photographer Douglas Kirkland presented a lifetime achievement award to still photographer Andrew Cooper. Cooper has photographed more than 60 features including Shutter Island, The Pacific, The Departed, Apocalypto, Kill Bill and War Horse. In speaking of his work, Andrew said that he is always looking for “the truthful gesture” in taking his photos.
Part of another father/son grouping, Michael Negrin whose credits include feature film Homeland Security as well as the television series Saving Grace, Desperate Housewives, Life and The Cape, introduced his father, Sol Negrin and presented the distinguished service award to him. Sol worked as an assistant cameraman from 1948 to 1960 and from there stepped up to camera operator and then on to DP, where he earned five Emmy nominations and four Clio awards. He has taught cinematography and the evolution of filmmaking techniques at Five Towns College in Long Island for the last 10 years.
The college camera operator of the year award was presented to Petr Cikhart by Bob Primes. Cikhart’s first-year short film, Dry Feet was chosen by the AFI to present at the worldwide Kodak scholarship awards. Cikhart commented that he learned from Primes that films can either be “shot by fear or out of passion and love” Petr said, “Here’s to shooting with passion and love.”
In the two categories of camera operator of the year awards, Michael Goi, president of the American Society of Cinematographers, presented the award for the television category to Andrew Mitchell for Glee. Mitchell has been working in television since 1993 and his credits include Touched By An Angel, Everwood as well as Glee. In accepting his award he commented, “I think this is our job: to tell stories that move people.”
In the feature films category, Stephen Campanelli took the stage again to accept his award for his work on J. Edgar. Campanelli joked that he planned on using the skills he “stole, I mean borrowed” from Clint Eastwood in his own future directing projects.
The final award of the evening, the lifetime achievement award for camera operator, was presented to Paul Babin by Jim Plannette and Ben Beard. Paul, after urging the audience to stand up and get up out of their chairs, and telling them he really was the last award of the evening, brought laughter to the room with several stories and then said on a more serious note, “the closer I get to the camera, the more I really do feel a sense of reverence. And it makes sense that there is this sacred zone around the camera when you consider the work that goes into creating a shot.”
Two technical achievement awards were also presented during the evening. One to Thales Angenieux for the design and development of the Optimo family of handheld lenses and one to Grip Trix for the design and development of Herb Ault’s electric powered camera platforms.