Cinematographers celebrate renovated location

A who’s who of d.p.’s sat in the warm noonday sun Thursday as the American Society of Cinematographers cut the ribbon on completion of its renovated and expanded clubhouse in Hollywood.

The project preserved the style and character of the historic Mission-style building while adding 1,500 square feet of additional space and updating its infrastructure to modern standards.

The original structure, built in 1903 as part of a new Hollywood subdivision, was the home of silent movie star Conway Tearle in the 1920s. ASC bought it in 1936, setting it up as its headquarters and a place where d.p.’s could gather and talk business and craft.

“Our clubhouse has been a second home for the world’s most talented cinematographers for nearly 75 years,” said ASC topper Michael Goi. “We are committed to perpetuating the spirit of artistry that resides within (its) walls.”

The renovated clubhouse also functions as an informal museum and contains artifacts of film history, including a Kinetoscope projector from the 1890s, early motion picture cameras, photos of d.p.’s and other memorabilia. Its bar, long nicknamed Billy after d.p. William Fraker, who shot “Bullitt” and “Rosemary’s Baby,” now formally carries that moniker in the wake of Fraker’s death on Monday.

In addition to the dozens of cinematographers and other industryites attending, L.A. councilman Tom LaBonge and Hollywood Chamber of Commerce prexy Leron Gubler were on hand for the dedication. D.p.’s George Spiro Dibie and Owen Roizman, respectively, served as heads of the fundraising committee and the building committee.

“Our biggest challenge was to keep Owen from quitting,” Goi told Daily Variety. “Nothing ever goes according to plan with these projects. Owen was the keeper of the vision, and there were many times when it was very frustrating.”

Renovation planning began four years ago, and ground was broken in May 2008. The project’s costs were kept within budget, Goi said, although completion took twice as long as the 11 months originally projected.

The ASC, chartered in 1919, claims to be the oldest existing organization in the motion picture biz. That same year Mary Pickford added the ASC suffix to d.p. Charles Rosher’s name in the main title credits for all the films he shot with her in a leading role. That recognition became a standard practice for all ASC members.

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