Membership in The American Society of Cinematographers is the highest honor that can be bestowed upon a professional cinematographer. The organization is not a guild or a labor union, but rather a prestigious group of selected professionals, which has been giving out its Lifetime Achievement Award since 1987 to the very best in the industry.
As reported on The Dissolve, cinematographer Dean Cundey will be receiving the ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Cundey’s work in film is iconic and invaluable to cinema as a whole. He has worked with some great genre directors, such as John Carpenter, Robert Zemeckis, and Steven Spielberg. Cundey’s work contributed to the eerie tone of such great science fiction and horror films as Halloween, The Fog, and Escape from New York.
The most important film Cundey worked on for John Carpenter was the director’s 1982 classic The Thing. Cundey recalled his experience working with the genre director:
…our first venture into a major studio film […] a great experience because we now had at our disposal all of the things that we couldn’t afford before: large stages and a very experienced production designer; a lot more equipment and facilities. So it was a great introduction into mainstream Hollywood.
Dean Cundey’s work also included the entire Back to the Future trilogy for director Robert Zemeckis. It’s amazing how Cundey created a unified look to the trilogy, while playing around with the look of the past, present, alternate present, and future. Cundey also worked with Zemeckis on the groundbreaking Who Framed Roger Rabbit? in 1988, for which he won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography; on Death Becomes Her; and on Romancing the Stone in 1984.
Cundey worked with Steven Spielberg on two films, Hook and Jurassic Park. Spielberg then began working with cinematographer Janusz Kamiński beginning with Schindler’s List.
For the awards ceremony, Cundey will get to choose which films he’d like to represent his work in a four-minute highlight reel. Cundey told Crave Online:
To condense a career into four minutes you have to sit down and think. So I’ve been going over the films, and there’s the big ones, the well known ones of course, but sometimes there’s little films that are sort of overlooked. Death Becomes Her, for instance, that has a very unique sort of style and visual effects. Again, some pioneering visual effects that hadn’t been done before.
While the latter portion of Dean Cundey’s career hasn’t been as iconic or important — with films like Jack & Jill, Looney Tunes: Back in Action, and The Spy Next Door — Cundey will always be known for his contributions to ’80s and ’90s genre films.
The awards ceremony will take place on February 1, 2014. You can take a look at the ASC’s Lifetime Achievement Award recipients here.