Though Steven Spielberg seems an obvious choice for an accolade involving cinematic imagery, it’s taken 10 years for the stars to align and the Art Directors Guild to present him with its Outstanding Contribution to Cinematic Imagery Award.
“Spielberg is someone we wanted to honor for a long time,” says Thomas A. Walsh, the guild’s president. “By accepting this award, he’s paying our craft a privileged honor. He doesn’t need another trophy. He’s gotten just about every honor that can be bestowed on a filmmaker.”
Walsh also draws parallels between Spielberg and Golden Era studio directors like Raoul Walsh, Victor Fleming and George Stevens: “They learned their craft by doing, and so has Steven.”
“I can’t think of anybody more deserving,” says production designer Rick Carter, who has worked with Spielberg for 20 years, starting with the TV series “Amazing Stories” and continuing through “Munich.” “The impact of his cinematic imagery is so substantial. I think we’ll come to see him much the way you look at Hitchcock or David Lean — someone who helped create the language of film.”
Cinematographer Janusz Kaminski has collaborated with Spielberg on 10 films, including his Oscar-winning work on “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan.” He gives Spielberg high marks for being open to the collaborative process. “There’s a perception that the director is responsible for everything on the screen,” says Kaminski. “But we know that’s not true. Steven surrounds himself with very good people and is very good at using their ideas, which leaves him able to focus on storytelling and performance.”
Costume designer Joanna Johnston has collaborated with Spielberg on four pics since the late 1980s, starting with “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.” She calls him “a brave warrior,” reserving her highest praise for his storytelling skills. “His camera takes you right in there,” she says. “He just weaves a really beautiful web.”