The American Society of Cinematographers

Loyalty • Progress • Artistry

John Flinn To Receive ASC Television Achievement Award

November 15, 2009
John C. Flinn, III, ASC will receive the Career Achievement in Television Award from the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC) during the 24th Annual ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards. The celebration will be held at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza on February 27, 2010.

“John Flinn’s consistently artful and imaginative cinematography has earned the admiration of his peers,” says ASC President Michael Goi. “He has made significant contributions to compelling story-telling in a diverse range of successful and memorable dramatic television series, movies and miniseries.”

Flinn has earned seven Emmy nominations for Magnum P.I. (1988), Jake and the Fatman (1989, 1990), The Operation (1990), Babylon 5 (1995, 1996) and Hunter: Back in Force (2003). He was also nominated for three ASC Outstanding Achievement Awards for Jake and the Fatman, and took top honors for an episode of that show in 1993. Flinn’s additional credits include Hill Street Blues, Gilmore Girls, and currently Saving Grace.

“Artful cinematography usually flies under the radar because it’s meant to draw audiences into the story, not to become the story itself,” says Awards Committee Chairman Richard Crudo, ASC. “John’s peers in ASC are uniquely qualified to recognize and applaud how his mastering of the art and craft of cinematography has helped to create some of the most beloved TV images over the past few decades.”

Flinn literally grew up in the industry. His grandfather, John C. Flinn, Sr., began his career at Pathe Studios in New York during the dawn of the industry. He subsequently became a producer and vice president of Cecil B. DeMille Productions, the forerunner of Paramount Pictures. His father, John C. Flinn, Jr., was director of advertising and publicity for Allied Artists and Columbia Pictures.

“I thought I wanted to be an actor, but once I got onto sets I knew I wanted to be part of the camera department,” Flinn recalls. “I’d watch the actors rehearse, and realized that someone was bringing it to life with lighting and how they used the camera.”

Flinn got his first camera crew job as a second assistant on the TV series The Wackiest Ship in the Army when he was 20 years old. Flinn spent the next 15 years working as an assistant and camera operator on crews led by iconic cinematographers, including Conrad L. Hall, ASC; William Fraker, ASC, BSC; Robert Surtees, ASC; Matt Leonetti, ASC; Harry Stradling, ASC; Richard Rawlings, ASC; Monroe Askins, ASC; Chuck Wheeler, ASC; and Richard Kline, ASC. “It was like a dream come true,” Flinn says. “I watched, listened and learned.”

He earned his first cinematography credit in 1979 for The Flame is Love, a television movie produced in Ireland. Flinn subsequently shot 12 episodes of the final season of the hit television series Hawaii Five-O. He estimates that he’s shot some 500 hours of episodic series, miniseries and movies for television throughout his ongoing career. The versatile filmmaker has also earned occasional credits as an actor, stuntman and director.