Allen Daviau, ASC will receive the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Lifetime Achievement Award. The award is presented annually to an individual who has made extraordinary and enduring contributions to the art of filmmaking. Daviau will be feted at the 21st Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards on February 18, 2007, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel.
Daviau claimed the first of his five Oscar® nominations in 1983 for E.T. THE EXTRA- TERRESTRIAL. His other nominations were for THE COLOR PURPLE (1986), AVALON (1991), EMPIRE OF THE SUN (1988) and BUGSY (1992). The latter two films also took top honors at the ASC Awards, and EMPIRE OF THE SUN won the BAFTA cinematography award, the British equivalent of an Oscar.
“Allen Daviau is still in the prime of his career, but he has already created an innovative body of work that will stand the test of time,” says Russ Alsobrook, ASC, who chairs the organization‘s Awards Committee. “He is an awe-inspiring cinematographer who has earned the admiration of filmmakers around the world.”
Daviau was born in New Orleans and raised in Los Angeles. He was a movie fan, avid still photographer, and lit stage plays in high school. After graduation, he worked in camera stores and labs. He saved enough money to buy a 16 mm camera and began shooting short films, including some for students at the University of California-Los Angeles (UCLA). One of those films caught the eye of the producer of a new music program on KHJ-TV, who offered Daviau a job.
That same producer organized a company that created pre-MTV music videos for record companies and distributed them to local TV stations. Daviau shot films with The Animals, Jimi Hendrix and other popular performers. In 1967, a couple of aspiring filmmakers named Ralph Burris and Steven Spielberg saw his work and asked for his help on a 35 mm short film. That project led to an opportunity for Daviau to shoot AMBLIN for Spielberg in 1968.
Daviau spent the next 10 years as a lighting effects technician on a Roger Corman film, and shooting 16 mm industrial/educational films and 35 mm commercials. He also lensed several David Wolper documentaries, including SAY GOODBYE, which was nominated for an Oscar in 1971. During the mid-1970s, Daviau shot a couple of ultra low-budget, independent features.
He joined the camera guild in 1978. That gave him an opportunity to work on mainstream films with larger budgets, beginning with a television movie called THE BOY WHO DRANK TOO MUCH, directed by his old friend Jerry (Jerrold) Freedman. When Freedman told Spielberg that Daviau was in the union, Spielberg had him shoot a two-day sequence on a project.
Spielberg's next film was RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, where he met Melissa Mathison. He told her of a long-term, science-fiction project titled NIGHT SKIES. Together they transformed that work into E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, which became Daviau's first full-length feature. E.T. THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL earned four Oscars and five additional nominations, including Best Picture. It ranks near the top of the list of all-time hits at the boxoffice.
Daviau has subsequently compiled some 25 additional narrative credits, including such memorable films as two segments of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE, THE FALCON AND THE SNOWMAN, FEARLESS and VAN HELSING. He says that his television commercial work has given him the freedom to be patient and discerning about choosing narrative projects.
Daviau joins a formidable group of previous recipients, including George Folsey, ASC; Joe Biroc, ASC; Charles Lang Jr., ASC; Phil Lathrop, ASC; Haskell Wexler, ASC; Conrad L. Hall, ASC; Gordon Willis, ASC; Sven Nykvist, ASC; Owen Roizman, ASC; Victor J. Kemper, ASC; Vilmos Zsigmond, ASC; William A. Fraker, ASC, BSC; Vittorio Storaro, ASC, AIC; Laszlo Kovacs, ASC; Bill Butler, ASC; Michael Chapman, ASC; Fred Koenekamp, ASC; and Richard Kline, ASC.
The ASC was organized in January 1919. There are some 280 ASC members today, and 170 associate members from allied sectors of the industry. For information about the 21st Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards call 323-969-4333 or visit