The American Society of Cinematographers has elected Daryn Okada to be its new president, succeeding Richard Crudo. Okada said he was “humbled and honored” to serve as head of the professional society, which was founded in 1918.Okada becomes president during a period of rapid change for directors of photography, with new digital cameras vying with traditional film cameras and new processes like digital intermediates coming to the fore. The ASC has been pro-active in trying to ensure that its tradition of high visual standards isn’t compromised during any transition.“Our goal is to help assure that the evolution of technology serves the cinematic arts,” he said. “The art of filmmaking and new visual technologies have been inseparably linked from the earliest days of the industry,” he added. “But it takes an organization of artists to make sure that the depth of what’s already been created and put on the screen goes forward and doesn’t regress because of the new technologies.”Born and raised in Los Angeles, Okada, 46, bootstrapped his way into the profession, working as a projectionist and volunteering to assist on student films as the first steps. He had investigated going to film school at the University of Southern California but found it unaffordable—and full.By the late 1970s, he was working as a gaffer, grip and occasionally a camera operator on ultra-low-budget films while photographing small commercials. “It gave me time in my own way to really learn the craft and how to use the tools that were available,” he said. “I don’t know if I would have the same expertise had I become a cinematographer more quickly.”He earned his first credit for Nomad Riders in 1981 and has since added over 40 credits for films including Anna Karenina, Dr. Dolittle 2, Mean Girls and Just Like Heaven.Okada said he has two priorities: The first is to find ways to expedite the considerable work cinematographers are required to do today both in preproduction and in postproduction, especially with the advent of DIs. The second is to find ways to improve communications between members who are now much more dispersed around the globe, using the internet and other ways to hold virtual meetings.Okada, who had previously served as the society’s vice president, said he will “rely on the advice and the support of our members and associates as we continue on the historic mission defined by the founders of ASC nearly 90 years ago.”The officers of the American Society of Cinematographers include vice presidents Michael Goi, William A. Fraker and Caleb Deschanel; treasurer Victor J. Kemper; secretary Michael Negrin and sergeant at arms John Hora.The organization’s new board of governors also includes Curtis Clark, George Spiro Dibie, Richard Edlund, Francis Kenny, Isidore Mankofsky, Woody Omens, Nancy Schreiber, John Toll, Kees Van Oostrum, Roy Wagner and Haskell Wexler. Alternate members of the board are Laszlo Kovacs, Stephen Lighthill, and Robert Primes.There are about 280 active members of the ASC today, with national roots in some 20 countries. There are also around 170 associate members from sectors of the industry that support the art of filmmaking. Membership is by invitation, based on contributions individuals have made to advance the art of visual storytelling.
Written by Jack Egan