#3: 1988

 

   


JAMES MATHERS

 

Born: 5 May 1955, Los Angeles, Calif., USA, as James Michael Mathers.

Education: Film School at California State University, Northridge.

Career: Started at a young age as an actor [sometimes cred as Jimmy Mathers], joining the Screen Actors Guild in 1960. Retired from acting in the 1970's and attended film school. Worked on a variety of staff and free-lance production assignments rising to doph in the early 1980's.

Has recently been specializing in shooting 'film style' digital and is co-founder of The Digital Cinema Society, a nonprofit educational cooperative created to address the information needs of producers, directors, cinematographers, postproduction specialists, and exhibitors. The Society's purpose is not to advocate for digital, but to objectively examine all media, solutions, services, and technologies without favoring any one brand, service, or format over another. He is also a regular contributor to several industry trade magazines including Studio Monthly, Definitions – The HiDef Source Book, and Digital Cinema Magazine.

While still active as a cinematographer, he has also compiled a long list of credits as a director including 4 short dramatic films, music videos and numerous commercials, PSA's & doc's.

With wife and writing partner, Charlene Mathers, he has recently formed The Migrant FilmWorkers. His brother Jerry [1948-] is an actor.

Website: James Mathers


NOTE: Not to be confused with the Irish doph James Mather [e.g. 'The Last Bus Home' (1996) & 'Adam & Paul' (2004)].


'Last Night with Angel' [2002]: Panasonic Broadcast's new AJ-HDC27V HD Cinema camera was recently selected to shoot a narrative short, 'Last Night with Angel.' The feature was produced by Geoff Garrett, directed by Mike Henry, and James Mathers served as director of photography. The AJ-HDC27V allowed these digital filmmakers to capture film-like 24-frame high-definition progressive scanned images; in addition, the camera, with a wide range of variable frame rates - 4 to 33fps, 36, 40 and 60fps - provided the capability to 'overcrank' or 'undercrank' the camera to achieve fast or slow motion effects. This is the first time this traditional film technique has been applied to a high-definition digital camera system.

'With a plan to submit a film print for inclusion in film festivals around the world, but with a very limited budget, HD seemed to be the perfect choice for 'Angel.' The AJ-HDC27V performed extremely well on location, and I was especially impressed with its sensitivity, which came in very handy in the many low light situations we found ourselves in,' said Mathers. 'Our main location was the penthouse of the Century Plaza Hotel. Many of our shots played against the night skyline and shooting at low light levels really helped in playing, and not overpowering, this unique background. I found I could rate the camera at the equivalent of 600 ASA, even at -6db, more than sensitive enough to balance against the background. I even stopped down a little, which I usually try to avoid when shooting electronic. In this situation, however, it was helpful to keep the background lights a little crisper because when they got too fuzzy they tended to disappear,' Mathers noted. He continued, 'Another location was a large cavernous nightclub where the action played in pools of hot light. This is a difficult situation for an electronic camera, especially given the deep red crushed velvet background [a real 'lumen eater']. I was very impressed with how the camera held the hot highlights in the lit spots, but also reached into the darkness to provide enough detail to play the practical set - even the folds in the velvet tapestry. […] We were able to take advantage of the AJ-HDC27V's variable frame rate capabilities in different situations. The director wanted to achieve a surreal feeling as the main character, Angel, entered the nightclub environment. Shooting her entrance point-of-view at 60fps really took the edge off reality and helped set the tone for the scene. We were also able to take advantage of variable speed to shoot a time lapse of the sun coming up over the downtown L.A. skyline as viewed from our penthouse location. We shot this night-to-day transition at 4fps with no shutter, to quite an interesting effect. Our only challenge was stopping down enough by adding neutral density as the scene brightened so dramatically.' [From DVformat.com website, Jan. 23, 2002.]

 

 

'Balancing the Books' [2008]: "I'm coming to the end of the first week [January 2008] on a modest Indie feature, 'Balancing the Books', shooting with my RED camera, #30X. It has not been without some small bumps and idiosyncrasies to work around, but the pictures have been beautiful, and overall I would say things are going well. The project is low budget, but quite dialogue intensive. With long dialogue scenes, it was a challenge to "roll out" every 4 minutes [we started the shoot on the 8GB CF Cards], and have to reload. We also found that 3 takes had data errors which caused a loss of at least part of the material. We were aware of these problems in time to cover ourselves after transferring the cards to RAID's [= Redundant Array of Independent Disks - the simultaneous use of 2 or more hard disk drives], verifying, and playing them back in within minutes via RED Alert and Quick Time.

Midweek, however, we finally received our RED drives, which has been a great boon to the production; we can now roll many times longer between reloads. We are still only using about a fifth [perhaps 30 minutes out of 150] of the drive's capacity at this point until we gain more confidence, so we can playback and verify the data before moving too far along. The RED drives, however, have been 100% so far, and ergonomically work so nicely into the system; easy on and off of the camera, and quick downloads into the RAID's. From now on, we will only be using the CF Cards when we need a very small camera, and when there is a lot of gyration or vibration which could cause problems for a drive; however there isn't much of that on this picture.

The camera stays mostly on a jib arm which I use a lot as part of my style, set up in studio mode with an Angénieux Optimo 17-80. It's a very fast system, without the need for constant lens changes, and the Optimo, at T2.2 is about as fast as the standard speed Zeiss primes which I keep in a smaller, hand holdable mode on the B-camera, which is mostly there for back-up and hasn't seen too much action so far.

For data backup, we are going to a 5 Terabyte eSata RAID, and also to two secondary smaller drives, one simultaneous via eSata, and another via Firewire 800. One of these goes to the editing room and the other travels to the lab, FotoKem, which also makes LTO-2 data tape backups before being recycled.

Now if only I could get my EVF's [= electronic viewfinder], the final backordered item from RED, I would be styling. We have been working around it with an onboard HD monitor for the operator split off from the directors feed, but it's cumbersome with extra wires, power considerations, and weight.

[...] I've now had a chance to screen selected dailies projected in 2K courtesy of FotoKem. They took some of our material, created 4K DPX sequences, color timed them on a Quantel Pablo, as they would for a DI finish, then scaled them to 2K for projection. It was great to see everything through our post workflow path and see it on a big screen to make sure we were up to snuff in all areas. I can't recommend highly enough that you see your work, at least occasionally, projected on a big screen." [By James Mathers, Cinematographer & President of the Digital Cinema Society.]


 FILMS

1985

50 Years of Action! [Douglass M. Stewart Jr.] 16mm/c; doc/60m; addph; ph: John Alonzo, Caleb Deschanel & Charles Clifton

1987

Outlaw Force [David Heavener] c; cph: David Huey

1987

Take Two [Peter Rowe] c

1988

Memorial Valley Massacre/Valley of Death [Robert C. Hughes] c

1988

Zadar! Cow from Hell [Robert Hughes] c

1989

Down the Drain [Robert Hughes] c; 2uc: Tom Callaway

1989

The Forgotten One [Phillip Badger] c; 2uc: Robert F. Smith; addph: Nicholas DeSciose & Andy Andersen; uwph: Jerald P. Fish & Chris Hill

1989

Syngenor [George Elanjian Jr.] c; 2u c.op: Geza Sinkovics; sfx ph: Austin McKinney

1989

The Game [Cole McKay] c

1989

Night Eyes/Hidden View/Hidden Vision [Jag Mundhra] c

1990

Rock 'n' Roll High School Forever [Deborah Brock] c; 2uc: Doyle Smith

1990

Last Call [Jag Mundhra] b&w-c

1990

Legal Tender/Ladies Game [Jag Mundhra] c; cph: Ricardo Jacques Gale

1990

House IV/House 4: The Repossession [Lewis Abernathy] c

1990

The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe [John Bailey] c; one-woman (Lily Tomlin) show/114m; addph; ph: J. Bailey

1991

Silent Night Deadly Night 5 - The Toy Maker [Martin Kitrosser] c; 2uc: Doyle Smith; addph: Michael Delahoussaye & Alan McFarland

1991

Round Trip to Heaven [Alan Roberts] c

1991

The Other Woman [Jag Mundhra] c; 2uc: Andrew Bowley; as James Michaels

1992

Play Nice [Terri Treas] c

1992

Wild Cactus [Jag Mundhra] c; 2uc: Ken Arlidge

1992

L.A. Goddess [Jag Mundhra] c

1992

Night Eyes Three [Andrew Stevens] c

1993

Snapdragon [Worth Keeter] c

1993

Sexual Malice [Jag Mundhra] c

1993

Improper Conduct [Jag Mundhra] c; + small part (as 'Brian'); add cameraman: Howard Wexler; as James Michaels

1994

Young at Hearts [Don Campbell] c; doc/73m; cph: Denis Maloney, Charles Burnett, a.o.

1995

Tainted Love [Jag Mundhra] c; or ph Blain Brown

1996

BeetleBorgs: Vampire Files [Worth Keeter] c/V

1996

Turbo - A Power Rangers Movie [David Winning & Shuki Levy] c; co-2uc (Los Angeles); ph: Ilan Rosenberg

1997

Curse of the ShadowBorg [John Putch & Gabe Torres] c/V; edited from ep #26-31 of tv-series 'Saban's Big Bad BeetleBorgs'

1998

Sex - The Annabel Chong Story [Gough Lewis] c; doc/86m; co-principal ph: G. Lewis, John O'Grady, Kelly Morris & Tony Morrone; as Jim Michaels

1999

Intrepid/Deep Water [John Putch] c

2001

XCU: Extreme Close Up [Sean Cunningham] HD-to-35mm/c

2002

Last Night with Angel [Michel Henry] HD (Panasonic AJ-HDC27V)/c; short/20m; see above

2004

American Crude [Craig Sheffer] c

2005

Who Is Harry Nilsson... (And Why Is Everybody Talkin' About Him?) [John Scheinfeld] HD/b&w-c; doc/116m; release was delayed until 2010 due to copyright issues

2005

for the BIBLE tells me so [Daniel Karslake] b&w-c; doc/99m; cph: Kevin Bond, Jared Manders, Tom Fahey, Mike Simon, Rob Van Praag, a.o.; add camera: Dana Duke, Peter Haas, a.o.

2005

Tranced [David Mickey Evans] HD/c; as James Michaels

2005

Getting Around: Alternatives for Seniors Who No Longer Drive [Dale Bell] dv/c; doc/28m; cph: Jonathan Bell; addph: Jaimie Morris

2006

The U.S. vs. John Lennon [David Leaf & John Scheinfeld] HD (DVCPRO HD)-to-35mm/b&w-c; doc/96m; filmed 2005-06

2006

Six-Victor [Alex Albanese] HD (Canon XL H1)/c; doc/?m; cph: Lewis Abernathy; uw c.op: Sean Murray

2007

Dystopia [Brandi Centeno] c; short/14m

2007

Dummy Hoy: A Deaf Hero [David Risotto] c; 2uc: Kelly Christian Lynch

2007

Waiting for Yvette [Justin Ross] c; short/14m

2007

Aussie & Ted/Aussie and Ted's Great Adventure [Shuki Levy] c; 2uc: Steven Parker; prod by the Shuki Levy Children's Foundation

2008

Balancing the Books/Fatal Secrets [Meir Sharony] RED/c; see above

2008

The Misadventures of the Dunderheads/Montana Amazon [D.G. Brock] RED One (scope)/c; 2uc: Conrad Hunziker III; released in 2012

2008

The Smell of Success/Manure [Larry Smith (= Michael Polish)] RED-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc; ph: M. David Mullen

2008

How Bruce Lee Changed the World [Steve Webb] HD/c; doc/91m; cph: Justin Evans, Nathan Wilson, a.o.

2009

Watch Out for Slick [Herb Linsey] c

2009

The Striking Truth [Steven J. Wong & (3D/action dir) Bobby Razak] c; doc/81m; cph: S.J. Wong; 3D c.op: Greg Salman; filmed over a 4-year period

2009

The Chicago 8 [Pinchas Perry] RED/c; 2uc: Conrad Hunziker III

2010

The Disappearing Act [Frank G. Lawrence (= Frank L. Giglia) & Tone Purzycki] RED+HD (Panasoni)c/c; pre-production; scheduled to start in June, then January 2011; status unknown

2010

Brake [Gabe Torres] RED One MX/c; 2uc: Terry Pratt

2012

1000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story [Michael Levine] HD/c

2014

The Magical Tale of the Little Tyke-oon [Peter Liapis] pre-production

2014

Shades of Vengeance [Bob Myers] HD (ARRI ALEXA)/c; pre-production

2015

Broken Links [Meir Sharony] HD (AJA CION)/c

 

 TELEVISION

1984

Hunter [various] 153-part series, 1984-91; ph main title seq; ph: various

1994

Honor Thy Father and Mother: The True Story of the Menendez Murders [Paul Schneider] tvm

1995

Masked Rider [e.g. ep #5 'Bugs on the Loose' dir by Worth Keeter, #7/8 'Super Gold (Part One & Two)' dir by David Frost, #14 'Dance Crazy' dir by Rob Malenfant (RM), #15 'The Green-Eyed Monster' dir by RM & #21 'Unmasked Rider' dir by RM] 40-part series, 1995-96; other ph: Geza Sinkovics & Eric Anderson; as James Michaels; adaptation of the Japanese tv-series 'Kamen Rider Black RX'; for FOX Kids-tv

1995

Hypernauts [e.g. ep #9 'Reunion' dir by Christen Harty Schaefer] 13-part (5 unaired) series/dv, 1996

1996

The Monkees/Hey, Hey It's The Monkees [Michael Nesmith] special/45m; for ABC-tv

1998

Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog [26 ep dir by various] 50-part series, 1998-99; 2uc: Peter Dorney

1999

St. Patrick: The Irish Legend [Robert Hughes] tvm

2001

North Hollywood [Judd Apatow] pilot/22m/HD; for ABC-tv

2001

Trapped - Buried Alive [Doug Campbell] tvm; 2uc (+ 2ud): David Giancola

2002

Gilda Radner's Greatest Moments [Dennis Rosenblatt] comedy special/43m

2002

Ghost Dog: A Detective Tail/Dog Gone [Worth Keeter] tvm/HD

2002

In the Name of Heaven [John Scheinfeld] doc/?m; a National Geographic Special

2003

When I Fall in Love: The One & Only Nat King Cole [David Leaf & John Scheinfeld] mus doc/b&w-c/60m; for PBS-tv

2004

Black Tie Nights/Hollywood Sexcapades [various] 26-part series, 2004-05; as James Michaels

2004

Beautiful Dreamer - Brian Wilson and The Story of SMiLE [David Leaf & (concert seq) Maurice Linnane] doc/109m/HD; cph: Conrad Hunziker III, Phil Cormier & Darian Sahanaja

2005

Ricky Nelson Sings [David Leaf & John Scheinfeld] mus doc/60m

2005

Black Tie [Julie Davis] 13-part series

2005

Forest Lawn: The First Hundred Years [Jeremy Weiss] doc/60m

2006

The Electric Company's Greatest Hits & Bits [David Leaf & John Scheinfeld] doc/60m; cph: David Sperling

2006

Modern Marvels [ep #14.04 'Pumps' dir by ?] doc series, 1993-present; 14th season, 2007; for History Channel

2007

Modern Marvels [ep #15.08 (47m) 'Alaskan Fishing' prod by Robert Hughes] 15th season, 2008-09; see 2006

2010

UnderCovers [ep #10 'Funny Money' dir by Jonas Pate] 13-part (2 unaired) series/RED, 2010; 2uc; ph: ?

2011

Will to Live [ep #6 'Line of Fire' dir by Michael Derek Bohusz] 10-part (7x half-hour & 3x one-hour) doc series; for cable network TV One

2011

Son of a Pitch [Andy Mogren] 6-part comedy sketch series/3-D; for 3net (3D Network, 2011-14)

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS DIRECTOR

1996

Saban's Big Bad BeetleBorgs (1st season title) [ep #51 'Fright Files', #52 'Borgslayer!' & #53 'Vexor's Last Laugh'] 53-part tv-series, 1996-97; ph: Dean Hayasaka; 2uc: Alan Koplin

1997

Saban's BeetleBorgs Metallix (2nd season title) [ep #1-3 & #31-33] 35-part tv-series, 1997-98; ph: Dean Hayasaka

1997

Saban's BeetleBorgs Metallix - The Movie [feature film (for home video release; adapted from the first few episodes of 2nd eason)] ph: ?

1998

What Are You Doing Tonight? [tvm] ph: ?

1999

Saban's Power Rangers Lost Galaxy [ep #23 'Memories of Mirinoi'] 45-part tv-series, 1999; 2nd season; ph: Ilan Rosenberg

2002

Extreme Courage [multiple ep] tv-series

2003

Digital Cinema Solutions [doc/c/24m/V] ph: Conrad Hunziker III

2005

The Great Adventure [multiple ep] 34-part travel reality series/HD; for Fine Living Network

2005

Bail Agent [doc/60m] ph: ?

2006

Can You Handle The Truth? [multi-camera tv-pilot] ph: ?

 

 MISCELLANEOUS

1977

The Nixon Interviews by David Frost [prod: John Birt] 4-part (+ 1 extra) interview tv-series/v; post-prod asst

2006

The States [?; 10-part doc tv-series] field producer; for the History Channel

2006

The 11th Hour [Nadia Conners & Leila Conners Petersen; doc/89m] co-c.op interviews; interview ph: Brian Knappenberger; ph (16mm): Peter Youngblood Hills; ph (35mm): Andrew Rowlands

 

 FILMS & TELEVISION AS ACTOR

1961

Ichabod and Me [various] 36-part sitcom tv-series/b&w, 1961-62; as Benji Major; for CBS-tv

1963

Summer Magic [James Neilson] feature; as Peter Carey; ph: William Snyder; also 2-part ep of series 'Disneyland' (1965)

1963

Mail Order Bride [Burt Kennedy] feature; as Matt Boley; ph: Paul Vogel

1964

The New Interns [John Rich] feature; as Freddie; ph: Lucien Ballard

1964

Bewitched [ep #6 'Little Pitchers Have Big Fears' dir by William Asher] 252-part tv-series/b&w-c, 1964-72; 1st season/b&w, 1964-65; as Marshall Burns

1965

The Munsters [ep #20 'Bats of a Feather' dir by Jerry Paris] 70-part tv-series/b&w, 1964-66; 1st season, 1964-65; as Boy #2

1966

My Three Sons [ep #213 'The State vs. Chip Douglas' dir by James V. Kern] 380-part tv-series/b&w-c, 1960-72; 6th season/c, 1965-66; as Norman

1968

Adam–12 [ep #6 'Log 161: And You Want Me to Get Married?' dir by Phil Rawlins (PR) & #12 'Log 61' dir by PR] 174-part tv-series, 1968-75; 1st season, 1968-69

1970

The Dirty Mind of Young Sally/Innocent Sally [Bethel G. Buckalew (= Peter Perry)] feature; as Mike; ph: Boris Swenning

1971

The Smith Family [Herschel Daugherty] 39-part tv-series, 1971-72; for ABC-tv