#1: Directing "Decoding Annie Parker" [2011]

 

   


STEVEN BERNSTEIN   ASC

 

Born: ?, Buffalo, N.Y., USA. Moved to the UK.

Education: Cambridge University, UK [English Literature and Philosophy].

Career: 'I wanted to be a writer, but like Pooh Bear I thought too much and wrote too little. That is too say I was more a reader then a writer, more academician then poet. I got very interested in semiology and structuralism [the study of how language encodes ideas]. Initially I studied how the spoken and written language worked, but then became more interested in how codes worked in other languages, like the language of film. My interest in film language led me in a rather convoluted way to cinematography. I suppose I became more serious about film as a practical rather then theoretical occupation, around 1976, when London, where I was living, had a lot of independent film production companies. There was a building in North London called the Co-op, where you could edit your films for a few pounds. I think they had a couple of Bolex cameras available. I put an ad up offering my services as a cinematographer. It was a fortuitous choice as everyone else wanted to be a director. I got hired. The first film I did was about the Druids of Stonehenge. It led to other independent projects. About this time a producer named John Roseman had the idea of producing videos for bands. I don't think MTV existed yet, or if it did it was very much in its infancy. Suddenly everybody wanted to do music videos. Eventually, I bought a camera and shot a whole lot of music videos. Some were quite successful. That led to commercials.' [From the KODAK OnFilm website.]

Member of the ASC since 1999.

Lectures at the Film Department of the University of Southern California.

Wrote '[The Technique of] Film Production', a best-selling film production book [Focal Press, 1994].

Awards: Tokyo IFF 'Best Artistic Contribution Award' [1992; shared] for 'Como agua para chocolate'.


Steven Bernstein: 'Early in my career anything that was offered was a film I wanted to do. Today, two things are likely to affect my decision. One is my first meeting with the director. That relationship is like a marriage only, oddly, much more intense. You have to decide whether you're going to be able to get along with that person for the long time that you're going to be together. I think I have gotten along well with over 90 percent of the directors I have worked with, and many have remained friends. The second thing is the photography. I'm always interested in doing new and different things. If the project is very much like what I have done before, and the script is not great, then it is less likely I will be interested. Sometimes a project comes along that is just so interesting it is impossible to resist. [...] I think with every film I go through the same process, which begins with paintings and still photography. The great thing about a painting is you can put it up and you can show it to a director and work out whether you have a commonality of language. You can say in this painting Renoir uses soft light bouncing off the pavement and coming from below. The background is out of focus, as if it was composed through a long lens. Then, we might look at a Rembrandt using a single source of soft lighting, dropping off into darkness. Once I have that shorthand down with the director, it tells me whether we have a common vision.'

'I always advocate anamorphic, even though the lenses are inferior to spherical lenses, because you have one less generation in postproduction. But, now with the improvements in digital intermediate, that's really no longer a concern. I'm concerned about the compromises some people are making. You want to do a digital intermediate at 4,000 lines of resolution and someone claims that 2,000 lines is good enough. They say you won't be able to tell the difference, or that you can't tell the difference between Super 16 and 35mm film, or between film and digital cinematography. The moment we make that compromise, we are on a downward spiral. It's our obligation to produce the best imagery that we possibly can. I recently saw a remastered print of 'Lawrence of Arabia' in 70mm format. It was spectacular! That should be our goal.' [From the KODAK OnFilm website.]


 

 FILMS

1986

The Passion of Remembrance [seg 'Speakers' Drama' dir by Maureen Blackwood] 16mm/c; seg 'Maggie's Dream' dir by Isaac Julien en ph by Nina Kellgren

1986

Smart Alec/Hollywood Dreaming/The Movie Maker [Jim Wilson] c

1988

Jade [Jonathan Hourigan] c; short/30m

1988

Conspiracy [Chris Bernard] c

1991

Como agua para chocolate/Like Water for Chocolate [Alfonso Arau] c; finished prod; cph: Emmanuel Lubezki; 2uc: Claudio Rocha

1992

No Head for Heights [Nicholas Wright] c; short/11m

1993

Moondance [Dagmar Hirtz] c; 2uc: Seamus Corcoran

1994

Dolores Claiborne [Taylor Hackford] p/c; addph; ph: Gabriel Beristáin

1994

Kicking and Screaming [Noah Baumbach] c

1995

Curdled [Reb Braddock] c; ph Los Angeles: George Reasner

1995

Two Guys Talkin' About Girls/...At First Sight [Steven Pearl] c/V; 2uc; ph: Glenn Kershaw

1995

Underworld [Roger Christian] c

1996

Bulletproof [Ernest R. Dickerson] s35/c; 2uc: John Newby

1996

Murder at 1600 [Dwight H. Little] c; 2uc Washington D.C.: Robert M. Stevens; 2uc Toronto: Paul van der Linden & Robbi Hinds

1997

Mr. Jealousy [Noah Baumbach] c; addph: Antonio Ponti

1997

Highball [Noah Baumbach] c

1997

Half Baked [Tamra Davis] c; uncred addph: Frank Prinzi

1998

The Waterboy [Frank Coraci] b&w-c; 2uc: Chuck Cohen

1998

The Wood [Rick Famuyiwa] c

1998

More Dogs Than Bones [Michael Browning] c; 2uc: Jamie Maxtone-Graham

1999

Christmas in the Clouds [Kate Montgomery] J-D-C Scope/c

2000

Goodbye, Casanova [Mauro Borrelli] c

2000

The Forsaken [J.S. Cardone] c; 2uc (+ 2ud & co-add c.op 1st unit): Michael Cardone

2000

Corky Romano [Rob Pritts] c; uncred 2uc (?): Josh Bleibtreu

2001

Scary Movie 2/Scarier Movie [Keenen Ivory Wayans] c; 2uc: Josh Bleibtreu, Tony Mark & Eddie L. Watkins

2001

Frank McKlusky, C.I./The Safety Guy [Arlene Sanford] c/V; 2uc; ph: Tim Suhrstedt

2002

S.W.A.T. [Clark Johnson] s35/c; co-2uc; ph: Gabriel Beristáin

2003

Monster [Patty Jenkins] c; 2uc: Guy Livneh; addph: Tom Richmond & Stephen Campbell

2003

Blade: Trinity [David S. Goyer] s35/c; co-addph; ph: Gabriel Beristáin

2003

White Chicks [Keenen Ivory Wayans] c; 2uc: Philip Linzey

2004

Behind the Smile [Damon Wayans] HD/c; + small part

2004

Venom [Jim Gillespie] s35/c; 2uc; ph: Steve Mason

 

With actor Omar Sharif - "One Night with the King"

 

2004

One Night with the King [: The Call of Destiny] [Michael Sajbel] s35/c; 2uc: Vern Nobles; + small part

2005

Little Man/LiTTLEMAN [Keenen Ivory Wayans] c; 2uc: Vern Nobles

2006

Shoot 'Em Up [Michael Davis] s35/c; addph; ph: Peter Pau

2007

Tortured [Nolan Lebovitz] c/V

2007

Street Kings [David Ayer] s35 (+ D-Cinema)/c; 2uc; ph: Gabriel Beristáin

2007

Crawl Space [Michael Tiddes] c; short/11m; addph: Henry Jacobson

2008

Not Forgotten [Dror Soref] scope/c

2008

Love at First Hiccup/The First Time [Barbara Rothenborg] HD/c; remake of 'Kærlighed ved første hik [, nr. 1]/Love at First Hiccough' (1999, Tomas Villum Jensen; ph: Dirk Brüel)

2011

Tandem [Jared Hillman & Matthew Helfgott] ts/c; short/10m; aph: Greg Gasson

 

 TELEVISION

1990

Deptford Graffiti [Philip Davis] tvm; ep Channel 4 series '4 Play'

1990

The Diamond Brothers [: South by South-East] [Anthony Horowitz] 6-part children's series, 1991; also theatrical version (97m)

1990

Work! [Norman Hull] tvm; ep Channel 4 series '4 Play' (1991)

1994

The Secretary [Andrew Lane] tvm

1994

Trade Off [Andrew Lane] tvm; uwph: Jordan Klein Sr.

1995

The Monroes [pilot dir by Rick Wallace] 9-part (4 unaired) series

1998

Bad Cop, Bad Cop [Jon Favreau] pilot; for FOX-tv

1999

Smog [Jon Favreau] pilot; for UPN-tv

2000

Opposite Sex [ep #2 'The Virgin Episode' dir by Randall Zisk, #3 'The Drug Episode' dir by Danny Leiner, #4 'Bow Down Week/The Homosexual Episode' dir by Randall Zisk, #5 'The Dance Episode' dir by Kenneth Fink & #6 'The Field Trip Episode' dir by Ian Toynton] 8-part (2 unaired) series; other ph (pilot): Johnny E. Jensen

2001

Big Shot: Confessions of a Campus Bookie [Ernest R. Dickerson] tvm

2002

Couples [Marc Buckland] pilot; for ABC-tv

2002

The Jake Effect/It's Not About Me [pilot dir by Marc Buckland (MB), #2 'Only Connect' dir by MB, #3 'Flight School' dir by MB, #4 'Parent Teacher Conference' dir by Kevin Dowling, #5 'Don't Mess with Sloppy' dir by MB, #6 'The Jerk Who Came in from the Cold' dir by Rodman Flender & #7 'The Intervention' dir by ?] 7-part series; scheduled to premiere on NBC-tv in 2003, but show was cancelled; 6 ep aired on Bravo-tv in May 2006

2005

Threshold [pilot 'Trees Made of Glass, Part 1' dir by David S. Goyer] 13-part (4 unaired) series; other ph: Frank Byers

2008

Knight Rider [ep #1 'A Knight in Shining Armor' dir by David Solomon & #2 'Journey to the End of the Knight' dir by David Straiton] pilot + 17-part series/HD, 2008-09; 2uc; ph: Jamie Barber

2010

Last Man Standing/Close Quarters [Ernest Dickerson] tvm/HD (ARRI ALEXA + Canon EOS 5D + Sony PMW-EX3)

2013

Magic City [ep #10 'Angels of Death' dir by Terrence O'Hara, #13 'World in Changes' dir by Simon Cellan Jones & #16 'The Sins of the Father' dir by David Petrarca] 16-part series/HD (ARRI ALEXA), 2012-13; 2nd season, 2013 (8 ep); other ph: Gabriel Beristáin (#9, 11-12 & 14) & John Grillo (#15)

 

 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

 

Directing "Decoding Annie Parker"

 

2011

Decoding Annie Parker [feature; + co-prod/co-scrpl] ph: Ted Hayash; premiered in April 2013

2014

Dominion [feature/b&w; + scrpl] ph: Antal Steinbach