Cinematographer Johnny E. Jensen, ASC, will bring four decades of industry experience into the classroom this fall as he joins the faculty of Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.
Born and raised in Denmark before moving to the United States, Jensen has worked on Hollywood movies since 1966 and as a director of photography since 1984. He has worked as a cinematographer and director on major studio and independent films, as well as television movies/series and commercials.
Jensen made a name for himself early in his career working on such acclaimed classics as The Godfather (1971), Altered States (1980) and An Officer and a Gentleman (1982) among many other notable productions.
He began working as a cinematographer for feature films during the early 1980s. In 1991, he did the cinematography for Rambling Rose, which was nominated for two Academy Awards. He also worked on films including Grumpy Old Men, Rosewood, American Girl, Carrie, Bladerunner, Red Dawn, Lost in Yonkers, The Ladies Man, They Might Be Giants and The Game of Their Lives.
Jensen has also been the director of photography for numerous television productions. He was nominated for Emmy Awards for Best Cinematography for the TV movies Into The Badlands and An American Story (1991-1992). Recently, He also shot the feature films Material Girls and An American Girl and the TV movie Tribute starring Brittany Murphy.
Jensen belongs to the International Cinematographer’s Guild, Director’s Guild of America, American Society of Cinematographers, Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences and the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.
“Johnny Jensen brings another layer of breadth and depth to our outstanding cinematography faculty,” said Dodge College dean Bob Bassett. “To enable our students to learn from ASC cinematographers such as Jensen and Bill Dill, also an ASC member of our faculty, gives them the very best education drawing on the experience of top, working cinematographers.”
“Letting your eyes be the conduit to your heart, are amongst the things I intend to teach cinematography students at Dodge College,” said Jensen. “Finding inspiration for storytelling with a visual language is achieved with collaboration from all other artists involved in the process of making a film. It is my belief that learning one’s craft sets the foundation to build from one’s heart.”
Jensen’s career grew out of an unexpected opportunity that gave him the chance to contribute to the technological innovation in the field. “I moved to the U.S. with the dream of building race cars,” he explained. “Instead I got a job on a design team where we had to create a vehicle, the first of its kind, which would hold all the necessary equipment needed to shoot a movie. This was the ‘CineMobile’ and it was first used on the TV series I Spy starring Bill Cosby and Robert Culp. I was instructing foreign crews on its proper usage and this allowed me to travel worldwide and cemented filmmaking as my destined vocation for the rest of my life. I was an amateur photographer so naturally, I embraced cinematography.”