Photo by Grzegorz Piekarski [2008]


Born: 22 August 1943, Tolmezzo, Udine, Friuli, Italy.
Career: 'I was born in an out of the way place in Italy, north of Venice and Trieste, very close to the Austrian border. After I was born, we moved almost immediately to an area close to Venice on the farmland plains where I lived until I was 15. I started doing still photography with a camera that my uncle gave me when I was about 11. He was a cinematographer who became my mentor. I took pictures of my sister, my aunt and others in my family. I also took a lot of pictures around the countryside, landscapes and winter scenes. I developed the negatives and made prints with an old photo enlarger that was in my bedroom. I became the official photographer for the local soccer team when I was around 12 or 13. That's how I started as a photographer. [My uncle] was a director/cinematographer who specialized in documentaries and newsreels. I worked with him in Kenya when I was 17, after I finished high school. We did quite a bit of newsreel work for United Press International. We had an old 35mm spring-loaded Eyemo camera, which was in such a bad shape that you could see the gap between the lens and the lens holder with your eye. I remember shooting with it handheld for the first time. It was a story for UPI covering Jomo Kenyatta. He was coming out of imprisonment [1961], and on the way to become the first president of independent Kenya one year later. I remember being in the middle of a number of international documentary and newsreel filmmakers. I had to elbow my way into the crowd to get some of those shots, which caused some problems with the British newsreel cameraman. UPI from London said it was a little bit too repetitious, but they paid for the coverage. [...] Once I was assigned to cover a three-day East African safari rally, which is an absolutely magnificent speed race. I loved the cars. I was driving with an Australian team manager and asked him to stop, because I saw a great shot. I jumped out, put the camera on the tripod and got these beautiful shots of other cars coming around a curve, except I forgot to take off the cover of the lens. Another time I worked on a German film called 'Our House in Africa'. I was assigned to be the assistant to the sound mixer. They had told him not to worry about bringing somebody to Kenya, because he'd find fantastic technicians who can help you there. Instead, he found a guy who knew nothing about sound recording. I was one of his boom operators. I still remember the German cameraman telling me to keep the shadow of the mike out of the picture. After about a year, I decided it was time for me to return home. I worked on commercial crews and then I met one of the directors of RAI-tv in Milan. He had been a prisoner of war in Kenya, so we had a lovely conversation. He hired me as an assistant cameraman on a freelance basis, at first, for television. Once I became a cameraman, I was working on small features. We would spend three weeks shooting each one-hour TV movie. There were many different types of projects that offered a possibility for experimenting. It was also secure. They couldn't fire me, because it was a state owned company. I experimented with shooting reversal film at 2000 ASA. It was all 16mm film for television. One crew would shoot videotape on the stages in the studio and we, the film crews, would shoot 16mm b&w or color film on location. I was working in my safe television job, but I wanted to be a cinematographer like Gianni Di Venanzo. [...] I have a marvelous, original poster of '8½' at the entrance of my house. When Vittorio Storaro visited us he almost fell to his knees like it was a sacred icon. [...] I have always tried to do films that had something interesting to say about humanity. I was lucky because the first pictures I did were with talented directors. I worked with Lina Wertmüller on several films, including 'Sotto… Sotto' in 1983. My first 35mm film was an extremely low-budget period film. We shot it in Venice with a number of French and Italian actors. I remember timing it at Technicolor [in Rome] with Ernesto Novelli, who was like a legend to me. I was lucky because I had opportunities to shoot movies, but it took some time for my work to be noticed on films that had some wider success.' [From article by Nick Dager on the Digital Cinema Report website (2009)]
Ph commercials.
In December 2002, the Cineteca del Friuli [Gemona, Italy] announced the setting up of the Fondo Dante Spinotti. This project aims to acquire and preserve all the works of the cinematographer, from his work for RAI-tv in the 60s and 70s to his latest feature films. The event also hosted the premiere of a doc about Spinotti dir by Barbara Galanti for RAI Sat.
Appeared in the doc's 'Dante Spinotti' [1993, Alberto Colombo; ph: Walter Liaci], 'A Director's Journey: The Making of "Red Dragon" [2001-02, Kevin Krakower; 40m; + co-tech adv], 'Before, During and 'After the Sunset'' [2004, Kevin Krakower], 'The Making of 'Heat'' [2004, Constantine Nasr] & 'Cinematographer Style' [2005, Jon Fauer; ph: J. Fauer, Jeff Laszlo, Brian Heller & David Morgan].
Awards: 'David di Donatello' Award [1989] for 'La leggenda del santo bevitore'; BSC Award nom [1992], BAFTA Film Award [1993] and ASC Award nom [1993] for 'The Last of the Mohicans'; 'David di Donatello' Award [1994] for 'Il segreto del bosco vecchio'; LAFCA Award [1997], BSC Award [1998], 'Oscar' AA nom [1998], BAFTA Film Award nom [1998] and ASC Award nom [1998] for 'L.A. Confidential'; LAFCA Award [1999], 'Oscar' AA nom [2000] and ASC Award nom [2000] for 'The Insider'; Los Angeles Italian Film Award for Cinematography [2000]; David di Donatello Award nom [2003] for 'Pinocchio'; Big Bear Lake IFF 'Lifetime Achievement Award' [2005]; Plus Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [2009].


1979        La Carnia tace [Dante Spinotti, Gianni Lari & Sergio De Infanti] 16mm/c; exp short/30m

1980        Il minestrone [Sergio Citti] c

1981        La disubbidienza [Aldo Lado] c; cph: Paolo Tassara

1982        I paladini - Storia d'armi e d'amori/Le armi e gli amori/Hearts and Armour [Giacomo Battiato] tvi/c

1983        Cenerentola '80/Cinderella '80 [Roberto Malenotti] c

1983        Sogno di una notte d'estate [Gabriele Salvatores] c

1983        Sotto... sotto, strapazzato da anomale passione/Softly, Softly [Lina Wertmüller] c

1984        Così parlò Bellavista [Luciano De Crescenzo] c

1984        Fotografando Patrizia/The Dark Side of Love [Salvatore Samperi] c

1984        Voyage of the Rock Aliens [James Fargo & Bob Giraldi ('When the Rain Begins to Fall' seq)] c; ph 'When the Rain Begins

                    to Fall' seq; ph: Gilbert Taylor

1985        Choke Canyon/On Dangerous Ground [Chuck Bail] c

1985        The Berlin Affair/Interno Berlinese [Liliana Cavani] c

1985        Manhunter/Red Dragon: The Pursuit of Hannibal Lecter [Michael Mann] s35/c; see 2002

1986        Crimes of the Heart [Bruce Beresford] c

1986        From the Hip [Bob Clark] J-D-C Scope/c

1986        Aria [seg #5 'Die tote Stadt: Glück, das mir verblieb' dir by Bruce Beresford] b&w-c; filmed August 1986-March 1987

1987        Illegally Yours [Peter Bogdanovich] c

1987        Mamba/Fair Game [Mario Orfini] c; addph: Massimo Vitali

1988        La leggenda del santo bevitore/The Legend of the Holy Drinker [Ermanno Olmi] c

1988        Beaches/Forever Friends [Garry Marshall] c; 2uc New York: Mike Stone

1988        Acque di primavera/Torrents of Spring [Jerzy Skolimowski] c; cph: Witold Sobocinski

1989        La domenica specialmente/Especially on Sunday [seg dir by ?] c; 6 seg (also version with 4 seg); other ph: Tonino

                    Delli Colli, Fabio Cianchetti, Franco Lecca & Gianni Marras

1989        The Comfort of Strangers/Cortesie per gli ospiti [Paul Schrader] c

1990        True Colors [Herbert Ross] c

1990        Hudson Hawk [Michael Lehmann] c; ph Rome/Budapest: Giuseppe Maccari; 2uc Rome/Budapest: Paul Wilson

1991        Frankie & Johnny [Garry Marshall] c; 2uc: Steve Yaconelli

1991        The Last of the Mohicans [Michael Mann] p/c; replaced doph Douglas Milsome after 4 weeks in prod; addph: Douglas

                    Milsome; 2uc: Jerry G. Callaway

1992        La fine è nota/The End is Known [Cristina Comencini] c

1992        Il segreto del bosco vecchio/The Secret of the Old Woods [Ermanno Olmi] c

1993        Blink [Michael Apted] s35/c; vfx cons: Rene Daalder

1993        The Quick and the Dead [Sam Raimi] c; 2uc: Kyle Rudolph

1994        L'uomo delle stelle/The Star Maker/The Star Man [Giuseppe Tornatore] p/c

1994        Nell [Michael Apted] p/c

1995        Heat [Michael Mann] p/c

1995        The Mirror Has Two Faces [Barbra Streisand] c; cph: Andrzej Bartkowiak; 2uc: Richard Quinlan

1996        L.A. Confidential [Curtis Hanson] s35/c

1996        Goodbye Lover [Roland Joffe] p/c; 2uc: Kyle Rudolph

1997        The Kissing Ghost [Philip John] announced; status unknown

1997        The Other Sister [Garry Marshall] s35/c

1998        The Insider [Michael Mann] s35/c

1999        Wonder Boys [Curtis Hanson] s35/c

[Left] with dir Brett Ratner - "The Family Man"

1999        The Family Man [Brett Ratner] p/c

2000        Bandits [Barry Levinson] s35/c; 2uc: John M. Stephens; aph: Kurt Soderling

2001        Pinocchio [Roberto Benigni] p/c; addph: Enrico Lucidi; 2uc: Adolfo Bartoli

2002        Red Dragon [Brett Ratner] p/c; uncred cph: John Mathieson; uncred 2uc: Duane Manwiller; aph: Dylan M. Gross; remake

                    of 'Manhunter' (see 1985)

2003        Superman Returns [Brett Ratner & McG] scheduled as ph, but film was dir by Bryan Singer & ph by Newton Thomas Sigel in 2005

2003        Collateral [Michael Mann] scheduled as ph, but replaced by Paul Cameron

2003        After the Sunset [Brett Ratner] s35/c; addph: Duane Manwiller; 2uc: Kyle Rudolph; uwph: Peter Zuccarini

2005        Josiah's Canon [Brett Ratner] originally scheduled to start filming in February 2005 & September 2005; status unknown

2005        The Contract [Bruce Beresford] s35/c; addph: Francis Kenny

2005        X-Men: The Last Stand/X-Men 3 [Brett Ratner (replaced Bryan Singer)] s35/c; addph: James Muro; 2uc: Paul Hughen &

                    Jonathan Taylor; miniature ph: Tony Cutrono; replaced doph Philippe Rousselot

[Right] with Julius Shulman - "Visual Acoustics"

2006        Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman [Eric Bricker] b&w-c; doc/83m; cph: Aiken Weiss; addph: Nick

                    Higgins; + appearance; filmed February 2004-May 2006; released in 2008

2006        Slipstream/Slipstream Dream [Anthony Hopkins] HD-to-35mm scope/b&w-c

2006        Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street [Tim Burton] announced as ph, but prod was ph in 2007 by Dariusz Wolski

2006        Deception/The Tourist [Marcel Langenegger] HD+s35-to-s35/c; 2uc: Duane Manwiller; + small part

2007        Dante's Inferno [Armand Mastroianni] pre-production; film was dir by Sean Meredith and ph by Michael Negrin

2007        Flash of Genius [Marc Abraham] HD+s35-to-35mm scope/c

"Public Enemies"

2008        Public Enemies [Michael Mann] HD+s35-to-35mm scope & D-Cinema/c; 2uc: Gary Jay; addph 2u: Niles Roth

2008        State of Play [Kevin Macdonald] HD+p-to-35mm scope/c; addph (ph reshoots); ph: Rodrigo Prieto

2009        Party Guest [Michael Apted] c; short/7m; prod for The Responsibility Project sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance

2009        The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader [Michael Apted] HD+s35-to-35mm scope/c; 2uc + d:

                    John Mahaffie; splinter unit ph: Duane Manwiller

2010        Tower Heist [Brett Ratner] p/c; 2uc: Lukasz Jogalla


1968        Rio delle Amazzoni [Alberto Pandolfi] doc/?m

1968        La freccia nera [Anton Giulio Majano] 7-part miniseries, 1968-69

1970        Giovane Africa [Alberto Pandolfi] doc/?m (1971)

1971        La donna di picche [Leonardo Cortese] 5-part miniseries/b&w, 1972; 2uc; ph: Giampiero Puliti

1971        I Nicotera [Salvatore Nocita] 5-part miniseries, 1972

1973        Parlare, leggere, scrivere - Vicende della lingua italiana [Piero Nelli] 5-part doc series on the Italian language

1974        Tracce sulla neve [Alessandro Cane] tvm

1975        Camilla [Sandro Bolchi] 4-part miniseries, 1976

1976        Un delitto per bene [Giacomo Battiato] 3-part miniseries, 1977

1977        Il povero soldato [Mario Morini] 2-part tvm (1978)

1978        Paura sul mondo [Domenico Campana] 3-part miniseries, 1979

1978        Quattro delitti [ep #1 'Per due testoni' dir by Alberto Sironi (AS), #2 'Professione farabutto' dir by AS & #3 'Winchester

                    M2' dir by Gian Pietro Calasso] 4-part miniseries, 1979

1978        La commediante veneziana [Salvatore Nocita] 5-part miniseries, 1979

1979        Un giudice senza uscita [Salvatore Nocita] ?

1979        La signorina Else [Enzo Muzii] tvm (1980)

1979        Un matrimonio in provincia [Gianni Bongioanni] 2-part tvm (1980)

1980        Fosca [Enzo Muzii] tvm (1981)

1981        L'usura [Maurizio Rotundi] tvm; ep RAI-TV3 Lazio series 'Storie'

1981        Colomba [Giacomo Battiato] 3-part miniseries, 1982

1981        Quartetto Basileus [Fabio Carpi] 3-part miniseries, 1983

1983        Le ambizioni sbagliate [Fabio Carpi] 2-part tvm

1989        Una vita scellerata/[Cellini:] A Violent Life/An Infamous Life [Giacomo Battiato] 3-part miniseries; also shown

                    theatrically (110m)

2004        Prison Break [pilot dir by Brett Ratner] 81-part series, 2005-09; 1st season, 2005-06; other ph: Robbie Greenberg,

                    Robert LaBonge & Chris Manley

2007        Women's Murder Club [pilot (unaired?) dir by Scott Winant (replaced Brett Ratner)] 13-part series, 2007-08; other ph:

                    John Fleckenstein

2007        Blue Blood [Brett Ratner] unaired pilot