Robert Elswit

Robert Christopher Elswit, ASC (born April 22, 1950) is an American cinematographer. He has had multiple Oscar, BAFTA and Independent Spirit nominations for several films, including winning for There Will Be Blood (2007). Elswit frequently works with director Paul Thomas Anderson.[2]

Robert Elswit
Born
Robert Christopher Elswit

(1950-04-22) April 22, 1950[1]
NationalityAmerican
EducationAFI Conservatory
OccupationCinematographer
Known forGood Night, and Good Luck
There Will Be Blood
TitleASC
Awards

Life and career

Elswit was born in California. An early short film he worked on was a 1982 TV adaptation of the Ray Bradbury short story All Summer in a Day. He began his career as a visual effects camera operator at John Dykstra's Apogee Productions Inc., working on films like Star Trek: The Motion Picture, The Empire Strikes Back, and E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial,[3][4] before shooting made-for-television films and shows.

Elswit is a fierce defender of shooting with film, and whenever possible refuses to use digital cameras. Images shot digitally, he says, have "no texture, no grain."[5] He’d eventually start shooting in digital, starting with Nightcrawler.

Elswit has also worked with director George Clooney several times. He shot Clooney's black and white, multiple-Oscar nominated film Good Night, and Good Luck. Notably, Elswit shot the film in color, then converted the film into black and white in post production. According to Elswit, this technique preserved the subtlety of the colors (as complex shades of blacks and greys) and made the overall look much richer in the final film.[6]

Elswit received his first Academy Award nomination for Best Cinematography in 2006 for his work on the movie Good Night, and Good Luck. He lost that Oscar to Dion Beebe for Memoirs of a Geisha. Two years later, Elswit would again be nominated and this time win the Oscar for Best Cinematography, for his work on There Will Be Blood.[7]

Elswit has cited early independent filmmaker John Cassavetes as a major influence. Elswit is a graduate of the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts and worked there as a teaching assistant in the 1970s.

Filmography

Film

Key
Denotes films that have not yet been released
YearFilmDirectorNotes
1981 The End of August Bob Graham
1982 Waltz Across Texas Ernest Day
1985 The Sure ThingRob Reiner
Moving ViolationsNeal Israel
Desert HeartsDonna Deitch
1986 Trick or TreatCharles Martin Smith
1987Amazing Grace and ChuckMike Newell
1988Return of the Living Dead Part IIKen Wiederhorn
1989 How I Got into CollegeSavage Steve Holland
Heart of DixieMartin Davidson
1990Bad InfluenceCurtis Hanson
1991Paris TroutStephen Gyllenhaal
1992 The Hand That Rocks the CradleCurtis Hanson
WaterlandStephen Gyllenhaal
1993A Dangerous Woman
1994The River WildCurtis Hanson
1996 Hard EightPaul Thomas AndersonNominated - Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
The PallbearerMatt Reeves
BoysStacy Cochran
1997 Boogie NightsPaul Thomas Anderson
Tomorrow Never DiesRoger Spottiswoode
1999 8mmJoel Schumacher
MagnoliaPaul Thomas Anderson
2000BounceDon Roos
2001HeistDavid Mamet
2002 ImpostorGary Fleder
Punch-Drunk LovePaul Thomas Anderson
2003 Behind the Red Door Matia Karrell
GigliMartin Brest
Runaway JuryGary Fleder
2005 Good Night, and Good LuckGeorge ClooneyIndependent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated - Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated - ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Nominated - Camerimage Golden Frog Award
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
SyrianaStephen Gaghan
2006American DreamzPaul Weitz
2007 Michael ClaytonTony Gilroy
There Will Be BloodPaul Thomas AndersonAcademy Award for Best Cinematography
ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Nominated - BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated - BSC Best Cinematography Award
Nominated - Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
2008 RedbeltDavid Mamet
The Burning PlainGuillermo Arriaga
2009 DuplicityTony Gilroy
The Men Who Stare at GoatsGrant Heslov
2010 Lost Masterpieces of Pornography David Mamet
The TownBen Affleck
SaltPhillip NoyceNominated - Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
2011Mission: Impossible – Ghost ProtocolBrad Bird
2012The Bourne LegacyTony Gilroy
2014 Inherent VicePaul Thomas AndersonNominated - Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
NightcrawlerDan Gilroy
2015Mission: Impossible – Rogue NationChristopher McQuarrie
2016 GoldStephen Gaghan
2017SuburbiconGeorge Clooney
Roman J. Israel, Esq.Dan Gilroy
2018SkyscraperRawson Marshall Thurber
Write When You Get WorkStacy Cochran
2019Velvet BuzzsawDan Gilroy
2020 King of Staten Island Judd Apatow Post-production

Television

YearFilmDirectorNotes
1981 A Single Light Karl Epstein Television film
1983 Tiger Town Alan Shapiro
1985 CBS Schoolbreak Special Michael Toshiyuki Uno Episode: "The War Between the Classes"
1986 The Children of Times Square Curtis Hanson Television film
1987 Into the Homeland Lesli Linka Glatter
Long Gone Martin Davidson Television film

Nominated - CableACE Award for Direction of Photography for a Movie or Miniseries

1989 Double Exposure: The Story of Margaret Bourke-White Lawrence Schiller Television film
1990 A Killing in a Small Town Stephen Gyllenhaal
Opposites Attract Noel Nosseck
1991 Prison Stories: Women on the Inside Donna Deitch
Joan Micklin Silver
Penelope Spheeris
The Summer My Father Grew Up Michael Tuchner
1992 Human Target Max Tash Episode: "Pilot"
A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story Martin Davidson Television film
1997 Prince StreetRoger SpottiswoodeEpisode: "Pilot"
2016The Night OfSteven ZaillianMiniseries; 2 episodes

Camerimage Jury Award for Best Pilot

Awards and nominations

Academy Award for Best Cinematography

American Society of Cinematographers Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

Austin Film Critics Association for Best Cinematography

Awards Circuit Community Award for Best Cinematography

BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography

Boston Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography

British Society of Cinematographers Award for Best Cinematography

CableACE Award for Direction of Photography and/or Lighting Direction for a Dramatic or Theatrical Special/Movie or Miniseries

Camerimage Golden Frog Award

Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography

Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography

  • 1986: CBS Schoolbreak Special (1984)

(For episode "The War Between The Classes")

Houston Film Critics Society for Best Cinematography

Independent Spirit Award for Best Cinematography

International Online Cinema Awards for Best Cinematography

International Online Film Critics' Poll Award for Best Cinematography

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography

National Society of Film Critics Award for Best Cinematography

New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Cinematographer

New York Film Critics Online for Best Cinematography

Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography

San Diego Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography

Satellite Award for Best Cinematography

St. Louis Film Critics Association

Utah Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography

References

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