The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry

ASC Breaks Ground For Renovating Historic Hollywood Clubhouse

May 9, 2008

The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) hosted a groundbreaking ceremony here today launching the renovation of the organization’s historic clubhouse in the heart of Hollywood. An array of guests, including Los Angeles Council President Eric Garcetti, Councilman Tom LaBonge, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences President Sid Ganis, and Hollywood Chamber President and CEO Leron Gubler, joined ASC members and industry associates at the groundbreaking.

“This renovation project is a continuation of our historic commitment to fellowship and progress in the art of filmmaking,” says ASC President Daryn Okada. “It will enable us to accommodate larger meetings and seminars for our members, collaborators and students, who are the future generation of filmmakers, while preserving the legacy of the original building, which is a treasure trove of early film history.”

The renovation project will add 1,500 square feet to the original clubhouse, which has served as ASC’s headquarters for the last 70 years. A new, three-story structure also will be constructed to replace the current one-story office building used by staff.

Over the years, the organization has collected cameras, lenses, and other relics of early motion picture history that have been donated by members and friends of the ASC, some of which will be on display on a rotating basis. A unique library of books, photos and other historical documentation and memorabilia are also housed at the site.

According to Owen Roizman, chairman of the ASC Building Committee, the architectural design by Culver City-based Wolcott Architecture Interiors (WAI) has been a work in progress. He explains that it had to satisfy contemporary and future needs for a meeting place, while faithfully preserving the heritage engrained in the original building. The plans also meet civic and historic building codes.

“Every ASC member has been inspired by our heritage,” says Roizman. “We all share an obligation to preserve and enhance that legacy for the next generation.”

ASC was founded during a meeting by 15 cinematographers at William C. Foster’s home in Hollywood in December 1918. It was still the dawn of the industry when silent, black-and-white films were hand cranked through cameras.

The first generation of cinematographers was inventing a language for telling stories with moving images. By the late 1920s, ASC had more than 100 members who were playing a pivotal role in a fast-growing, global entertainment film industry. Hal Mohr, ASC shot The Jazz Singer, the first commercially successful “talkie” in 1927, and Karl Struss, ASC and Charles Rosher, ASC shared the first cinematography Oscar® in 1929 for Sunrise. ASC members also participated on a new technology committee organized by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences that defined the needs for transitioning from silent to sound movies.

During the early 1920s, silent film star Conway Tearle purchased one of the original homes built on Orange Drive in Hollywood. In 1936, ASC bought and converted Tearle’s home into a clubhouse that served as a focal point where cinematographers informally gathered at the end of work days at the studios in addition to formal meetings. The grand opening for the site was held February 28, 1937.

Around that same time, the ASC created an associate member category for individuals working in allied sectors of the industry, which enabled the organization to broaden the dialogue and involve colleagues from other professional sectors.

“It's exciting that after 70 years of owning this historic house, ASC is expanding and improving it,” says Garcetti, whose district includes Hollywood. “I can only imagine the creativity and innovation that has resulted from conversations here, and I’m proud that the oldest operating motion picture society calls Hollywood its home.”