Richard Crudo was elected by the American Society of Cinematographers’ board of governers to serve a fourth one-year term for the 94-year-old, invite-only organization. He previously served in the position from 2003-2005.
For the Brooklyn-born Crudo — whose credits as a DP include the films “American Buffalo” and “American Pie” and the TV series “Justified” — the resumed responsibilities are not that much different from his previous board duties. “Like any organization, there’s always a small group that does most of the heavy lifting,” he told Variety. “There’s a misperception where people think the president has a lot of power. The president is just the head of the board at the ASC, and basically his power comes from the board. You have a certain amount of latitude, but anything substantial that involves finances or major policy decisions, you’re just executing the will of the board.”
Crudo also serves as governor and chairman of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences’ cinematographers branch. At the ASC, he succeeds Stephen Lighthill, who served as the org’s chief for a year and remains on the board. Presidents are allowed to serve three consecutive terms then must relinquish the post for at least a year.
Others appointed to the board’s slate of officers include two ASC past presidents: Owen Roizman, who now serves as a vice president along with Kees Van Oostrum and Lowell Peterson; and Victor J. Kemper, who was named treasurer. Fred Goodich was named secretary and Isidore Mankofsky was appointed sergeant-at-arms.
“The odd thing about the presidency or any officer status at the ASC is you don’t campaign for it,” Crudo added. “There’s no politics involved. It’s just something that’s arrived at by consensus and is thrust upon you in a sense. Very often it’s who’s available, who’s capable, who’s willing.”
One of the challenges of the ASC, which was founded in 1919 and boasts 330-plus active members from around the world, is keeping up with the dizzying pace of change in a field where digital technology is emerging on a continual basis.
“Nothing stays the same very long anymore,” says Crudo. “And it’s not like the old days where you shot on film and the process was very simple, very direct and very easy to control — where you could take what you learned on one job and move it right into the next. Every time out now, we’re reinventing the wheeel, so to speak. And cameras and work flows change every six months.”
And with award-winning films like “Avatar” and “Life of Pi” being praised for their visuals even though much of what’s seen on screen is not created through the camera, standards for judging work around awards season are changing as well, as well as the push for DPs to maintain their involvement through the post process.
“The Academy is looking to us for some guidance on (standards of excellence),” said Crudo. “We hope to come up with some guidelines that will help us make decisions in that area because that will only increase in the coming years.”