IN THE BEGINNING
To my millions of imaginary readers and adoring fans, I have an anecdote with spirit for you. If you knew what my life was like growing up, if you knew me from back in the day, you'd probably have said something like this: "Face facts, young KDC. the only way you're going to be let in through the front door of the Clubhouse, that is, the American Society of Cinematographer's Hollywood Clubhouse, is if you're cleaning the toilets or delivering bags of weed. Other than that, it’s impossible for a guy like you. And as a matter of fact, you would be smart to purge those silly delusions of grandeur from your vivid imagination immediately. Right?" "Um, right. Sorry man." I would have told you. And you would not have had the minority opinion. And I would have had no reason to believe that you wished ill of me.
Yet there I was, in summer of 2013, through the front door, inside the temple to American Cinematography, not as a drug dealer or janitor, but by invitation as a cinematographer by a female director who believed my work to be on par with her high production values. A documentary of sorts featuring none other than Dean Cundey, ASC!
YOU’VE SEEN HIS WORK.
Dean Cundey, ASC is the cinematographer who shot Halloween, Escape From New York, Back To The Future, Jurassic Park, Romancing The Stone, Big Trouble In Little China..., the very films that I watched growing up that made me resonate with emotion, and in awe of the magic that was bestowed upon me. So smitten was I, that at the age of fourteen, I forged a work permit so I could get a job as an usher at the Mann's Village movie theater in Westwood Village- just so I could be around movies all the time.
DAZED AND CONFUSED.
Reflecting as we all must do from time to time, my first "paying" job was an unrealistic initiation to the adult workforce, simply because it never felt like work. Who cares that the money is crap when you're too busy laughing with your fellow cinephiles to complain about it?
Add to the equation, the bonus of coming home well after the 3am late show screenings to the shocking approval of my hardliner, working-class father who walked uphill and barefoot to school, a man who cultivated a solid reputation for reading me the riot act, too mystified that I was not "fucking off in front of the television” to give me what for.
And It seems strange to say it now, but putting on that royal blue polyester jacket, ill-fitting gray pants and “punching” the time-clock was never embarrassing. And feeling the ground shake and shudder to the THX trailer put me in a state of euphoria every single time.
END FLASHBACK SEQUENCE
Many years later, I can still experience the same sense of euphoria, but no longer as just an audience member. These days, I'm only happy/breathing/alive when there’s a camera in my hands. Whenever I’m shooting, I become impervious to long hours, bad weather, fatigue, and all the many, many perils of my adult life. I’m forever addicted to this feeling- which is better than any drug or drink I’ve ever had, and I have no intention of kicking this habit, even as the days in-between gigs become tougher to endure, and I find myself jonesing for the inspiration or reason to pick up my cameras again. And again. And again.
And yes I do realize, that even with all that I’ve managed to accomplish, being a guest shooter at the ASC clubhouse is still a long, long way from being an actual member. The thought of writing my name, followed by a comma, followed by the letters ASC is so far away, it feels impossible. And I would be smart to purge those silly delusions of grandeur from my vivid imagination immediately. Right?
-Keith Fucking DeCristo