You’ve all seen the three letters following the names of some of the industry’s biggest photographic talents in the opening credits of thousands of films and television programs going all the way back to 1919. It’s not a union; membership is by invitation only and isn’t gauged by how many films you’ve made or how popular those films are — it’s based on the excellence of your work as a whole, and your excellence as an individual. For many directors of photography, once you’re in the American Society of Cineamtographers you’ve made it.

Loyalty. Progress. Artistry. The first time I walked into the foyer of the ASC clubhouse on the corner of Franklin Avenue and North Orange Drive, it hit me like a ton of bricks: the decades of history, of knowledge, and movie magic. I felt special just being there, in the well of cinema’s soul. Off the main room in “Billy’s Bar” (named for the late William Fraker, ASC), “some of the most famous asses in movie history sat on those stools,” notes Steve Gainer, ASC (Punisher: War Zone). Gainer is also the Society’s historian and curator. He consigned and restored all the classic film cameras, lenses and relics on display in these hallowed halls (including several Academy and Emmy Awards). This place seeths with excellence.

What the hell was I doing there?

Every year, on the Saturday before the annual ASC Awards show, the clubhouse doors open to the public. Anyone who cares to show up can enter, and it’s not just the general public that shows up. In my many subsequent treks to the clubhouse I’ve met and dwelled in the company of William Fraker (Bullitt), Owen Roizman (The French Connection), Laszlo Kovaks (Easy Rider), Vilmos Zsigmond (Close Encounters),  Wally Pfister (The Dark Knight), Victor Kemper (Dog Day Afternoon), and yes… Roger Deakins.

On days like this coming Saturday, you’re likely find these guys (and more) hanging out and waiting for people to just come up and start a conversation. They want to hear what you have to say, and usually start a conversation with the question, “What do you do?” before you get your first complement in.

The clubhouse is also one of Hollywood’s oldest buildings, constructed almost a decade before Syd Grauman erected the historical Chinese Theater on the other side of the block. This year is the first open house since its massive renovation, and if walking through the front doors used to feel like going to church, now it’s like walking into heaven.

The American Society of Cinematographers
Invites you to attend its

Annual ASC Open House

Saturday, February 12, 2011
11:00 a.m.-3:00 p.m.

Pre-Open House Breakfast Exclusively for
“Friends of the ASC”

9:30 a.m.-11:00 a.m.

1782 North Orange Dr.
Hollywood, CA 90028

There will be no onsite or validated parking.
Please use the lots at Hollywood and Highland

In attendance will be ASC Award Honorees,
Nominees and Esteemed Members
(Note: Participation based on availability)

Roger Deakins • Michael O’Shea • John Seale •
Jeff Cronenweth • Matthew Libatique • Wally Pfister • Kramer Morgenthau • Eagle Egilsson • Christopher Manley • Jonathan Freeman • Stephen Burum • Amy Vincent •
Owen Roizman • Ellen Kuras • George Spiro Dibie •
Caleb Deschanel • Vilmos Zsigmond • Nancy Schreiber • Haskell Wexler