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Victor J. Kemper Named Kodak Cinematographer in Residence at UCLA


April 24, 2008

Victor J. Kemper, ASC has been named Kodak Cinematographer in Residence during the spring quarter at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) School of Theater, Film and Television. The annual residency program was inaugurated by Professor William McDonald in 2000, and is sponsored by Kodak.

The program will begin with a screening of one of Kemper’s memorable films The Jerk. The comedy, starring Steve Martin and directed by Carl Reiner, will screen at the James Bridges Theater on the UCLA campus in Westwood on Monday, April 28, at 8 p.m. Kemper will discuss the visual grammar for the classic film and answer questions posed by McDonald and the audience. The public is invited to join faculty and students for this free screening.

“Victor Kemper is an innovative filmmaker with an extraordinary body of work,” McDonald says. “This program provides a unique opportunity for our students to gain insights into the art and craft of lighting from a uniquely talented cinematographer.”

Kemper compiled 60 narrative film credits between 1970 and 2005, including such diverse and memorable features as They Might Be Giants, The Candidate, Last of the Red Hot Lovers, Dog Day Afternoon, Slap Shot, Oh God!, Eyes of Laura Mars, Coma, The Last Tycoon, Author! Author!, and Beethoven. His body of work also includes such memorable television films as The Atlanta Child Murders miniseries, Kojak: The Price of Justice and On Golden Pond.

His peers in the American Society of Cinematographers recognized Kemper’s extraordinary contributions to advancing the art of visual storytelling when he was presented with the coveted ASC Lifetime Achievement Award in 1998.

“Part of being a cinematographer is learning the craft, but there is also something which whispers in your ear and tells you to move the camera a foot in a particular direction, while putting a face in shadows and a sparkle in someone’s eyes,” says Kemper. “That talent is innate, but you also need to learn the craft and how to work with the director, production designer, cast, crew and everyone else who is part of the collaborative process.”

Kemper blazed a non-conventional career path. He was born and raised in Newark, New Jersey. After graduating from Seton Hall University, Kemper was hired by a television station in his home state. He operated a sound boom, repaired cameras, mixed sound, and was a technical director for live programs produced in the studio.

In 1954, Kemper joined EUE, a leading TV commercial production company in New York as a video camera operator. He subsequently went to work as an assistant cameraman and operator on narrative features with Arthur Ornitz and other top cinematographers. Kemper earned his first cinematography credit for Husbands in 1964.

“The New York Union assigned me to be a standby cinematographer for Aldo Tonti, who was the cinematographer,” Kemper recalls. “When he decided to leave the picture after a week, John Cassavetes gave me a chance to step into the breach. What a tremendous break that was for me, getting to shoot my first film with an incredibly talented director.”

Kemper joins a distinguished list of participants in the Kodak Cinematographers in Residence annual program, including Dean Cundey, ASC, Allen Daviau, ASC, Conrad Hall, ASC, Owen Roizman, ASC, Laszlo Kovacs, ASC, Roger Deakins, ASC, BSC, Joan Churchill, ASC and Stephen H. Burum, ASC.

“Victor Kemper is a uniquely talented cinematographer who has made an indelible impression on the art of filmmaking,” says Michael Morelli, vice president and worldwide general manager for Kodak’s Entertainment Imaging Division. “This is an extraordinary opportunity for the next generation of filmmakers to learn from a legendary master of the art and craft.”

For more information about the April 28 screening of The Jerk, visit www.tft.ucla.edu or call 310-206-8365. Admission is free. There is an $8 parking fee. For more information about Kodak, visit www.kodak.com/go/motion.



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