Gerald Hirschfeld, ASC will receive the 2007 American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) Presidents Award in recognition of the exceptional contributions that he has made to advancing the art and craft of filmmaking. The presentation will be made at the 21st Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards celebration here at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza Hotel on February 18, 2007.
“Gerald Hirschfeld has earned the admiration of his peers for his innovative work as a cinematic artist,” says Russ Alsobrook, ASC, chairman of the organization‘s Awards Committee. “He has made an indelible impression on the art of filmmaking.”
Hirschfeld compiled more than 50 feature film credits during his career, including such classics as FAIL-SAFE, COTTON COMES TO HARLEM, DIARY OF A MAD HOUSEWIFE, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN and MY FAVORITE YEAR. He has been a member of ASC for 55 years.
Hirschfeld was also a filmmaker in residence at the International Film & Video Workshops at Rockport, Maine, for five years later in his career. He authored a popular textbook called, “Image Control - Motion Picture and Video Camera Filters and Lab Techniques,” that was awarded a prize for excellence by the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation, which honored him at The Museum of the Moving Image in London, England.
“Receiving the ASC Presidents Award is a great thing to have happen after a lifetime of making films,” says Hirschfeld. “I‘m extremely grateful. The recognition from my peers means a lot to me.”
Hirschfeld joins a diverse group of recipients of the ASC Presidents Award, including actor Robert Duvall; visual effects pioneers Linwood Dunn, ASC, Hans F. Koenekamp, ASC, Douglas Trumbull and Howard Anderson Jr., ASC; Steadicam inventor Garrett Brown; camera designers Tak Miyagishima and Albert Mayer Jr.; documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles; archivist Kemp Niver, ASC; and cinematographers William Clothier, ASC, Charles Wheeler, ASC, Guy Green, BSC, Ralph Woolsey, ASC, Richard Moore, ASC and Woody Omens, ASC.
Hirschfeld was born and raised in New York City. After high school, he worked as an assistant to a still photographer in the fashion industry. He joined the Army during World War II and was assigned to the Signal Corps Photographic Center (SCPC) in Astoria, Long Island. Hirschfeld learned the craft of cinematography while working on training films and short entertainment movies for the troops. Two iconic Hollywood cinematographers also at SCPC, Leo Tover, ASC and Stanley Cortez, ASC, were his mentors.
Hirschfeld earned his first narrative film credit in 1949 for C-MAN, a low-budget film that was produced in just 11 days. From 1953 through 1964, Hirschfeld concentrated on the quickly evolving art of producing and shooting television commercials. He was vice president of MPO Videotronics, a New York-based television commercial production company that nurtured many other future cinematographic masters, including Owen Roizman, ASC, Gordon Willis, ASC and Victor Kemper, ASC. His talent for problem solving led to the development of many technical innovations. Prominent among those innovations was the perfection of a traveling matte system utilizing infrared sensitive film and a three-strip Technicolor camera that was used to record backgrounds simultaneously with live-action footage on the negative, resulting in seamless visual effects.
“Jerry (Hirschfeld) is the consummate professional,” says five-time Oscar® nominee Roizman. “He was a perfectionist and relentless on the set. I learned a lot from him about filtration and other techniques. His day-for-night camerawork was brilliant. You could never find someone who could come up with the solutions that he just seemed to instantly dream up. Jerry also has written a wonderful book, and been a great teacher for many filmmakers. Add to that the fact that he is the ASC member with the most seniority--55 years--and you can see why no one deserves this award more than Jerry. He has made a tremendous contribution to the art of cinematography.”
The ASC traces its roots to the dawn of the motion picture industry in 1913, when the Cinema Club in New York and the Static Club in Los Angeles were organized by the first generation of cinematographers, who were literally inventing a new visual language. Fifteen members of those two clubs organized the ASC in January 1919. They wrote a charter that dedicated the organization to advancing the evolving art and craft of telling stories with moving images. There are some 280 ASC members from many nations today, and 170 associate members from allied sectors of the industry.
For an extended conversation with Hirschfeld and information about the ASC and 21st Annual Outstanding Achievement Awards, visit