#1: From interview

#2: Photo by Michael Coate [2007]





Born: 14 June 1942, New Orleans, Louisiana, USA, as John Allen Daviau.

Died: 15 April 2020, Motion Picture & Television Country House and Hospital, Woodland Hills, CA, USA.

Education: Loyola High School, L.A. [graduated in 1960].

Career: Bought his own 16mm Beaulieu camera in 1965 and started ph promotional films for KHJ-TV, Los Angeles, and rock 'n' roll promos [a: The Animals, Jimmy Hendrix, a.o.] for record companies. Ph a 16mm UCLA student film dir by Nicholas Frangakis [July 1965]. 'After 'Amblin'', Steven Spielberg tried to bring me along with him and Universal even tried to sign me some sort of deal, but the union at that time said "Forget it", so I said "Don't worry, Steven, I've got this 35mm film to show and I'll get into commercials and I'll be able to do work for you," and I did - it just took 11 years!. Back then the union was nepotistic, and, if you didn't have a close personal contact, you just did not get in, unlike today. It literally took me, and a handful of other now-prominent DP's - Caleb Deschanel, Tak Fujimoto, Andy Davis and others - a decade to gain entrance into the International Photographer's Guild. And, we finally had to file suit to get in. During that time, I also shot thousands of tv-commercials, as well as documentaries, industrials, and educationals; anything I could to keep myself working and expanding my knowledge of film.' [From interview with David Geffner in 'MovieMaker', Issue #29.]

Surgery in 2012 caused him to use a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Was a member of the ASC.

Ph commercials dir by Jeremiah Chechik, Michael Bay, Bob Giraldi, Matthew Robbins, Jesse Dylan, a.o. Ph music videos, e.g. 'L.A. Woman' [199?, d: Ray Manzarek; a: The Doors], 'Objects in the Rear View Mirror' [1996, d: Michael Bay; a: Meatloaf], 'Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)' [1997, d: Michael Bay; a: Aerosmith] & 'Judith' [2000, d: David Fincher; a: A Perfect Circle].

Appearances: 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991], 'Video Essentials' [1993-94, Joseph J. Kane Jr.; instruction program], 'The Making of 'E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial'' [1996, Laurent Bouzereau], 'Frank Capra’s American Dream' [1997, Kenneth Bowser; ph: Richard Ian Pendleton], 'Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures' [2000, Jan Harlan; ph: Manuel Harlan], 'Allen Daviau, ASC on Psychedelic Film Effects' [2003, Greg Carson; ph: J.B. Letchinger; 8m] & 'Cinematographer Style' [2005, Jon Fauer; ph: J. Fauer, Jeff Laszlo, Brian Heller & David Morgan]. Co-presented the instruction videos 'Shooting for Black and White with Allen Daviau and Denis Lenoir' & 'Shooting for Realism with Allen Daviau and Sacha Vierny' in the 'Kodak Cinematography Masterclass Series' [1994], prod by the Australian Film, Television and Radio School.

Spoke narration for the doc 'Karl Brown's Adventures with D.W. Griffith' [1990, Anthony Slide].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1983], BSFC Award [1983] & BAFTA Film Award nom [1983] for 'E.T.'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1986] for 'The Color Purple'; ASC Film Award [1987], 'Oscar' AA nom [1988] & BAFTA Film Award [1989] for 'Empire of the Sun'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1991] & ASC Award nom [1991] for 'Avalon'; ASC Film Award [1991] & 'Oscar' AA nom [1992] for 'Bugsy'; Hawaii IFF 'Excellence in Cinematography Award' [2004]; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [2006].

Allen Daviau: 'Seeing color television for the first time started my fascination with the technology of light and photography. These studies were enriched by meeting a remarkable guy named Bob Epstein, a Loyola High grad, who was attending the USC. Cinema Department during the late '50s and early '60s. Epstein introduced me to filmmakers like De Sica, Fellini, Bergman, Bresson, Ozu, and Kurosawa. And I soon realized what a phenomenal art form this marvelous technology could be. At about the same time, when I was 16, I was gate-crashing the set of 'One-Eyed Jacks', which Marlon Brando [took over from Stanley Kubrick] was directing and Charles Lang, ASC, was shooting. Lang was lighting this enormous interior, shooting VistaVision on what was probably ASA 50 color negative. He seemed to be everywhere at once, fine-tuning the frame with the operator, adjusting the positions of the background players, tweaking the light from at least a dozen babies. As he led a beautiful actress to her mark and subtly adjusted the shadow on her forehead, I thought to myself that this man has the very best job in the history of the world.' [From interview with David Geffner in 'MovieMaker', Issue #29.]



Amblin' [Steven Spielberg] c; short/25m; spec pfx: Jim McIntyre


Mooch/Mooch Goes to Hollywood [Richard Erdman] c; short/51m


The Brothers O'Toole [Richard Erdman] c


New Gladiators [Bob Hammer] 16mm/c; doc/94m; cph: John Hora; financed by Elvis Presley; found, restored and released in 2002 on DVD


Mother Tiger, Mother Tiger [Rolf Forsberg] c; short/11m; film shows a mother's struggle, despair and eventual acceptance of her retarded child


Names of Sin [Rolf Forsberg] c; short/22m


Everything You Know Is Wrong [The Firesign Theatre (= Philip Austin, Peter Bergman, David Ossman & Philip Proctor)] b&w-c; short/32m


Close Encounters of the Third Kind - The Special Edition [Steven Spielberg] p/c; Gobi desert seq ph; ph: Vilmos Zsigmond; re-edited and extended version of the 1977 release


Harry Tracy, Desperado [William Graham] c; 2uc: Doug Mackay


"E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial"



E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial [Steven Spielberg] 35mm (+ 70bu)/c; 115m; 2uc: John Stevens; efx ph: Mike McAlister; matte ph: Neil Krepela; filmed 1981 & 1982 (retakes); see 2002


Twilight Zone - The Movie [seg #2 'Kick the Can' dir by Steven Spielberg & #4 'Nightmare at 20,000 Feet' dir by George Miller] c; seg #1 dir by John Landis & ph by Stevan Larner; seg #3 dir by Joe Dante & ph by John Hora; efx ph: Jim Danforth; matte ph: Hoyt Yeatman


Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom [Steven Spielberg] c; California ph; ph: Douglas Slocombe


Racing with the Moon [Richard Benjamin] c; uncred addph; ph: John Bailey


Top Secret! [Jim Abrahams, David & Jerry Zucker] c; addph; ph: Christopher Challis


The Falcon and the Snowman [John Schlesinger] c


The Color Purple [Steven Spielberg] c; ph Kenya unit: Simon Trevor


Harry and the Hendersons/Bigfoot and the Hendersons [William Dear] c; addph: George Koblasa


Empire of the Sun [Steven Spielberg] 35mm (+ 70bu)/c; 2uc: Jimmy Devis


Avalon [Barry Levinson] c; matte ph: Craig Barron


Defending Your Life [Albert Brooks] c


Bugsy [Barry Levinson] c; miniatures ph: Bill Bennett


Fearless [Peter Weir] c; 2uc: Tom Connole; aph: R. Stanton McClain


Congo [Frank Marshall] c; addph: Tom Connole; 2uc: Charles Minsky; Africa unit ph: Simon Trevor


The Astronaut's Wife [Rand Ravich] c


The Tigger Movie [Jun Falkenstein, Takamitsu Kawamura & (live action) Nick Bates] c; anim/77m; live action ph


Sweet [Elyse Couvillion] mdv-to-35mm/c; short/10m


The Translator [Leslie Anne Smith] c; short/17m; 2uc: Christopher Gallo


Hearts in Atlantis [Scott Hicks] s35/c; uncred cph (with Emmanuel Lubezki); ph: Piotr Sobocinski


Dreams [seg (5m) 'The Routine' dir by Bob Giraldi] HD (Sony)/c; 8 seg; prod by agency Young & Rubicam to get commercial directors interested in shooting HD


E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial: The 20th Anniversary [Steven Spielberg] re-edited version (120m); see 1981


On location in Prague  - "Van Helsing" [2003]



Van Helsing [Stephen Sommers] c; 2uc: Josh Bleibtreu; vfx ph: Martin Rosenberg


Olive or Twist [Peter Moody] b&w-c; docudrama (on the history of the Martini)/55m; cph: Tchell De Paepe, Joachim Hanwright & Michael Knight


How to Be a Hollywood Player in Less Than Ten Minutes [Joe Hudson] HD/c; short/10m


ASC-DCI Standard Evaluation Material [created by Dante Spinotti, Daryn Okada, A. Daviau, a.o.] scope (2.39:1)/c; short/12m; The ASC Technology Committee and the six-studio industry consortium Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) created the ASC-DCI Standard Evaluation Material (StEM) as the official image quality reference used to create the requirements and standards for Digital Cinema


DVE - Digital Video Essentials - HD Basics [Joseph J. Kane Jr.] HD/c; instructional doc/120m; ph special seq


Ringling's Caravan [Sean Nalaboff] c; short/7m; Made in association with the film department at the Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA. The scene is spawned from a feature length screenplay, of the same name, written by S. Nalaboff


The Caretaker 3D [Sean Isroelit] HD/c; short/5m; cph: Svetlana Cvetko; A stereoscopic 3D (S3D) project powered by 3ality Digital; a tribute to the role of the Hollywood Sign Trust as the custodians of the Global Icon




Say Goodbye [David Vowell] doc special/60m; cph: J. Barry Herron, Stanley Lazan, Stephen Lighthill, a.o.; limited theatrical release


The Streets of L.A. [Jerrold Freedman] tvm


The Boy Who Drank Too Much [Jerrold Freedman] tvm


Rage! [William A. Graham] tvm


Legs [Jerrold Freedman] tvm


Amazing Stories [ep #1 'Ghost Train' dir by Steven Spielberg] 45-part series, 1985-87; 1st season, 1985-86




Slipstream [Steven Spielberg] c.op 'b' cam; ph: Serge Haginere; unfinished


The Trip [Roger Corman] co-spec psychedelic efx; ph: Arch R. Dalzell


The Polar Express [Robert Zemeckis] digital camera tests; ph: Don Burgess