Born: ?, as Michael A. Hofstein.

Career: Learned his craft as c.asst and later c.op [for John Bailey, a.o.] during the 1970s and early 80s at Paramount Studios and 20th Century Fox. Ph commercials for McDonalds, Volkswagen, Mattel, l'Oréal, a.o. Ph music videos. Co-wrote a chapter published in the American Cinematographer Manual about the preparation of the camera for production. As a member of an Eastman Kodak Company focus group in the mid 1990s, he helped in the research and development of the low contrast ultra latitude 320T-5287 color negative film. Teaches at the International Film and TV Workshop, Rockport, Maine. Married to stuntwoman/stunt coordinator Marian Green.

On 'Ice Planet': "I've looked at paintings all my life and base my filming decisions on certain artists' concepts. I lit the interior of the ice caves like an Italian Renaissance painting, whereas for the closer quarters I created the ambience of a Rembrandt painting with pools of light rimming the faces." The artistic approach of Michael Hofstein, Los Angeles-based Director of Photography, has resulted in superb visual effects in 'Ice Planet', a futuristic new science fiction film.

Set hundreds of years in the future off the planet Jupiter, a colony from earth is attacked by aliens. A spaceship carries the survivors to the Ice Planet, but their battles continue. The aliens are being added in post-production, along with many other visual effects.

"There was a gigantic 5,000 m² of stage," recalls Hofstein, "and the technical challenges were massive. I needed a higher speed stock that would give me the look and the latitude I required, together with a range of colours. Kodak 35mm Vision 500T (5279) is exquisite; it fulfilled all my expectations and proved to be incredibly versatile." Kodak 35mm Vision 200T (5274) was used for a short exterior dream sequence. Hofstein worked with ARRI 535B and 535AB cameras and an ARRI 435 for the wide-screen high-speed shots, 10mm to 150mm Zeiss lenses and a 200mm Century Precision Optics lens.

Hundreds of lighting units, c-stands, scrims, diffusion and flags were needed for the myriad sets, linked corridors and stage 'exteriors'. "I created a very warm tone for the space station 'exterior' sets with a combination of tungsten lights and CTS/CTO gel to represent Jupiter's reddish glow. That warm theme was carried to the space station corridors, although I changed the lighting between night and day because the human colony needed to maintain a rhythmic sense. The control room and command areas required a more mechanical, militaristic type of tone, so I had tungsten lights with blue gels. A deep red gel on pulsating tungsten units and a lighting change gave the effect of 'Red Alert.'"

Several rear-lit green screens and one front-lit green screen [47 meters in length x 6 meters high] were used to create composite views of Jupiter and space. On one set at Kirkov Base, there were eighty rear-lit panels on dimmers linked to a control board, each using a different light. Also in this set there was a rear-lit green screen. "I developed a rear-lit screen to reduce green screen spill for 'Drop Zone' and felt comfortable using it again," he adds.

Hofstein wanted a cold, foreboding look for the vast ice fields and caves, similar to the thick early morning fog that blanketed the fields while he was filming in Munich. Special effects supplied the heavy fog and several Licht Technik's 'Bag-o-Lights' were used for lighting. An ARRI 4kW HMI was placed in each of the inflated translucent tubes and covered with 1/4 CTO; with the aid of computer-controlled colour changers, an aurora borealis form of 'other worldly' light was successfully created from beyond the fog.

"It was an incredibly long and involved shoot and communicating between several cultures and several languages was a real challenge," admits Hofstein, "but the only real hitch was when we attempted to remove several walls during set changes; they were so well constructed that we ended up having to literally tear them apart. I tried my best to explain to the crew that in Los Angeles, sets are built to withstand 7.0 earthquakes but we are still able to remove the walls for shooting!" [From the KODAK website.]


1986        Aloha Summer [Tommy Lee Wallace] c; addph + 2uc; ph: Steven Poster

1986        Masters of the Universe [Gary Goddard] c; addph; ph: Hanania Baer

1994        Drop Zone [John Badham] p/c; vfx ph; ph: Roy H. Wagner & Norman Kent

1997        The Mask of Zorro [Martin Campbell] p/c; vfx ph; ph: Phil Meheux

1997        Rush Hour [Brett Ratner] p/c; vfx ph; ph: Adam Greenberg

1998        Nobody [Ramzi Abed] s16-35bu/c; short/16m

1998        The Underground Comedy Movie [Vince Offer] c; addph: Adam Janeiro

1999        Baby Luv [Robert Martin Carroll] c; addph: Richard Walden

199?        Ora e per sempre/Ahora y por siempre/Now and Forever [Michael Hofstein] ?

1999        The Learning Curve/Dangerous Seduction [Eric Schwab] c; + co-exec prod

2000        Don't Stand So Close to Me/For the Professor's Honour [Jacqueline M. Stone] c

2000        Ice Planet [Winrich Kolbe] s35/c; also a tv-pilot

2003        Le 7eme mensonge/The 7th Lie [Stéphane Guenin] dv-to-35mm/c; + prod

2004        The Donut Girls [Angela Alexander] c; doc/?m


1972        M*A*S*H [various] series; aph (& add c.op); ph: ?

1974        The Natural History of the Water Closet [Michael Hofstein] doc for PBS-tv/?m; + co-prod

1981        Dangerous Company [Lamont Johnson] tvm; 2uc; ph: Gerald Perry Finnerman

1984        The Cowboy and the Ballerina [Jerry Jameson] tvm; 2uc; ph: Ben Colman

1985        The Fall Guy [various] 113-part series, 1981-86; 5th season, 1985-86; other ph: Ben Colman, a.o.

1986        Crime Story [various] 44-part series, 1986-88; 2uc; ph: James A. Contner & Ronald V. García

1987        Necessity [Michael Miller] tvm; 2uc; ph: Rexford L. Metz

1989        Nasty Boys [Rick Rosenthal] tvm; 2uc; ph: Roy H. Wagner

1989        Adam 12 [various] series, 1989-90; 2uc; ph: Don McCuaig & J. Barry Herron

1989        To the Moon, Alice [Jessie Nelson] tvm/33m; co-2uc; ph: Chris Squires

1990        They Came from Outer Space [various] 20-part series, 1990-91; other ph: Clinton Dougherty

1992        Moment of Truth: Why My Daughter? [Chuck Bowman] tvm

1996        Moloney [various] 21-part series, 1996-97; other ph: Victor Goss, David Hennings, Michael D. Margulies & Lowell Peterson

1998        Expedition [: The Ultimate Safari] [Eugene Mattos & Michael Rann] doc/?m


1972        M*A*S*H [various; tv-series] add c.op (& aph); ph: ?

1974        Happy Days/Happy Days Again [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: Lester Shorr, Robert Hager, a.o.

1974        Rhoda [various; tv-series] add 1st c.asst; ph: ?

1976        Laverne & Shirley [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: Edward Nugent & Lester Shorr

1978        The Paper Chase [various; tv-series] add c.op; ph: ?

1978        Taxi [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: Sol Negrin, Kenneth Peach, a.o.

1978        Mork & Mindy [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: Stephen H. Burum, Bud Mautino & Meredith Nicholson

1978        Who's Watching the Kids [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: Meredith Nicholson

1978        The White Shadow [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: ?

1978        From Here to Eternity [Buzz Kulik; tv-miniseries] add 1st c.asst; ph: Gerald Perry Finnerman

1978        Brothers and Sisters [various; tv-series] 1st c.asst; ph: ?

1979        Cheech & Chong's Next Movie/High Encounters of the Ultimate Kind [Tommy Chong] add 1st c.asst; ph: King

                    Baggot & Nick McLean

1980        Midnight Lace [Ivan Nagy; tvm] c.asst; ph: Isidore Mankofsky

1980        The Brady Brides [various; tv-series] c.op; ph: ?

1981        [John Carpenter's] The Thing [John Carpenter] add c.op; ph: Dean Cundey

1981        Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy [Steven Gethers; tvm] add c.op; ph: Isidore Mankofsky

1982        9 to 5 [various; 1st season of tv-series] main c.op; ph: ?

1982        Cagney and Lacey [various; tv-series] c.op 'b' cam; ph: ?

1982        Twilight Zone: The Movie [seg #3 dir by Joe Dante] add c.op; ph: John Hora

1985        The Midnight Hour [Jack Bender; tvm] c.op; ph: Rexford Metz

1985        [Barry Manilow's] Copacabana [Waris Hussein; tvm] co-c.op; ph: Bobby Byrne

1985        Foley Square [various; tv-series] main c.op; ph: Leonard South

1985        The Defiant Ones [David Lowell Rich; tvm] c.op; ph: Rexford Metz

1985        Valerie/Valerie's Family/The Hogan Family [various; tv-series] c.op; ph: ?

1985        Crossroads [Walter Hill] co-add c.op; ph: John Bailey

1985        Perfect Strangers [various; tv-series] c.op; ph: ?

1986        Designing Women [pilot dir by Ellen Falcon; tv-series] main c.op; ph: ?

1986        Lethal Weapon [Richard Donner] add c.op; ph: Stephen Goldblatt

1991        [Bram Stoker's] Dracula [Francis Ford Coppola] add c.op; ph: Michael Ballhaus

1992        Love & War [pilot 'Love Is Hell' dir by Jay Sandrich; tv-series] main c.op; ph: Brianne Murphy


1974        The Natural History of the Water Closet [tv-doc; + co-prod/ph] see Television

1998        Acapulco H.E.A.T. [co-2ud ep 2nd season, 1998-99; tv-series] ph: Ludek Bogner

199?        Ora e per sempre/Ahora y por siempre/Now and Forever [feature; + ph] see Films

199?        The Seeker [?] ph: ?

2002        A Fabulous Tale [feature; dv] ph: ?