Kees Van Oostrum
By Sam Molineaux
Dutch-born cinematographer Kees Van Oostrum, ASC, a 23-year veteran of TV dramas, historical movies and thrillers, has known Otto Nemenz since the opening of his first store on Sunset Boulevard 25 years ago.
“I remember going down there when I was a student at AFI and finding him extraordinarily helpful,” says Van Oostrum, who recently completed work on USA Network’s miniseries Spartacus. He’s been renting from the company for the last 12 or so years, since making the switch from Panavision to ARRI equipment, and continues to rent gear from the firm on average twice a year.
Van Oostrum commends Nemenz for his true understanding of the needs of his customers. “He understands cameras and he’s a ‘can do’ person. I always know I can rely on him,” says the cinematographer. “He’ll go the extra mile, and has always had equipment available for me, regardless of whether it was a high budget movie or a low budget movie.”
One notable occasion, remembers Van Oostrum, was a project that required him to recreate an old hand-cranked movie look. Otto made a hand crank for an old ARRI 3C and dug out some older lenses, polishing off the coating to help get the look just right. And on the Emmy-winning TV drama Old Man, a William Faulkner tale set during the famous 1927 Mississippi River flood, when things started to get a bit hairy the company couldn’t have been more accommodating to the cinematographer’s needs. “I called Otto to make him aware that we were getting into an abusive situation with his equipment, and he said ‘I know how it goes, I trust you and know you’ll take the best care of the equipment.’ That meant a lot to me.
“Above all, the company has been tremendous at getting the latest stuff and having it available to its customers. It’s always a high-quality situation,” remarks Van Oostrum.
Kees Van Oostrum