Who are the most influential cinematographers in the relatively brief history of filmmaking? Billy Bitzer, Jordan Cronenweth, ASC, Conrad L. Hall, ASC, James Wong Howe, ASC, Sven Nykvist, ASC, Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC, Gregg Toland, ASC, Haskell Wexler, ASC, Gordon Willis, ASC, Freddie Young, BSC, and Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC topped the list according to a survey of International Cinematographers Guild (ICG) members. They will be recognized on a Wall of Fame at the Guild’s new national headquarters at 7755 Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. ICG will celebrate its 75th anniversary and commemorate the opening of its new headquarters at a gala event on November 8.
“We didn’t ask our members to select the most talented or creative cinematographers, because that would be like asking artists to choose between Dali and Rembrandt,” says ICG National President George Spiro Dibie, ASC. “We invited them to choose the cinematographers who have done the most to influence the art form. That was still a very difficult decision. More than 300 cinematographers received votes.”
The ICG Top 10 Most Influential Cinematographers list, which is actually made up of 11 names due to a tie, features cinematographers whose work spans the history of the industry. Bitzer, Howe, Toland and Young were in the first and second generation of cinematographers who were literally inventing a new visual language. Cronenweth, Hall, Nykvist, Storaro, Wexler, Willis, and Zsigmond were in the front ranks of a new wave of filmmakers who transformed the art form beginning in the 1950s. They were “outsiders” with diverse backgrounds and different ways of thinking than the Hollywood cinematographers who worked under contracts at studios.
ICG also released the names of 19 other cinematographers who ranked in the top 30 in the opinions of the 500-plus members who cast ballots. They are Nestor Almendros, ASC, Stanley Cortez, ASC, Allen Daviau, ASC, Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, Caleb Deschanel, ASC, George Spiro Dibie, ASC, William Fraker, ASC, Karl Freund, ASC, Janusz Kaminski, ASC, Darius Khondji, ASC, AFC, Laszlo Kovacs, ASC, Arthur Miller, ASC, Robert Richardson, ASC, Owen Roizman, ASC, Leon Shamroy, ASC, Dante Spinotti, ASC, Harry Stradling, ASC, Robert Surtees, ASC, and John Toll, ASC.
“Each of these cinematographers made unique and remarkable contributions to defining and advancing an important form of art,” says ICG Executive Director Bruce Doering. “Among the common denominators is that each of them was born with innate talent and an unquenchable dedication to their art form. Countless other cinematographers deserve this or similar recognition. More than 300 of them were cited on ballots. Our purpose is to say thanks and to pay tribute to those who were chosen, and also to use this platform to draw attention to the largely unrecognized role that cinematographers have played and will continue to play in the future.”
For more info, visit the International Cinematographers Guild website.