Close Encounters of the Chicago Kind

Steven Poster, A.S.C. (American Society of Cinematographers) has always been fascinated with the art and science of capturing images.  Beginning with still photography, Poster knew he wanted to make movies by the time he was fourteen. Poster's fascination with a neighbor, a news cameraman who later became his mentor, sparked an unwavering desire to make movies, and instilled a permanent preoccupation with the cinematic beauty of still images.
 
A Chicago native, Poster began his college education at Southern Illinois University as a member of a special program conceived by Buckminster Fuller, the master of problem-solving through deductive reasoning. Transferring to the Los Angeles Art Center College of Design, Poster learned how to 'see light' and was taught a true professional discipline. Returning to Chicago, he graduated from the Institute of Design of the Illinois Institute of Technology, where he was greatly influenced by the philosophy of Bauhaus design - that form should follow function.
 
Steven Poster launched his cinematography career in Chicago, at age twenty-one, and began with filming television commercials, cinema verite documentaries, and industrial films. He soon moved on to feature films, working as Second Unit Director of Photography on "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and did significant additional photography on "Blade Runner."

As Director of Photography, Poster has filmed a variety of motion pictures including "Stuart Little 2," "Daddy Day Care," "Rocky V," "The Cemetery Club," "Life Stinks," "Opportunity Knocks," "Next of Kin," "Big Top Pee-wee," and "Testament" as well as the controversial, award-winning music video for Madonna, "Like a Prayer." He received an A.S.C. nomination for Best Cinematography for Ridley Scott's "Someone To Watch Over Me" and has the distinction of being the only American cinematographer to shoot a French language film in France, "Une Chance sur Deux" for director Patrice Leconte.

Steven Poster began collaborating with the young, innovative writer/director, Richard Kelly, in 2001, with the infamous cult-favorite "Donnie Darko" and continued with "Southland Tales" in 2006, which was chosen for full competition at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival. In 2008, Poster and Kelly completed "The Box" starring Cameron Diaz, Frank Langella and James Marsden. In 2009 Poster filmed "Spread" Director David Mackenzie's first American movie which starred Ashton Kutcher. In addition, Poster has done work on numerous television pilots and filmed the critically acclaimed television movies "Roswell." "Mrs. Harris," "The Color of Justice" and "Courage." In 2012 Poster completed the pilot for the upcoming Netflix series "Hemlock Grove" by Director Eli Roth.

Steven Poster is President of the International Cinematographers Guild, a seven thousand-member trade union representing camera workers and film publicists across the United States. He was formerly a member of the Executive Board of the International Documentary Association, and is currently on the committee of the Nicholl Fellowship of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. 

During his tenure as President of the American Society of Cinematographers, Poster was responsible for re-forming its Technology committee, and continues to act as its co-chair. This committee is at the forefront in standard-setting recommendations for the paradigm-changing use of digital tools for cinematography, and the post-production control of images.

Poster's involvement in digital technology for the motion picture industry began in 1990, when he was asked to experiment with one of the first High Definition television systems for NHK Television in Japan. He has since become an internationally known spokesman in the industry for the transition to digital imaging.

When asked what inspires him, Steven Poster said: "I am inspired when I see photographs that feel like there was some intuitive sense involved in capturing that image. I'm inspired when I see imagery that tells a story. I'm inspired by everyday life—just watching people really inspires me. There have been many photographers that have said, "My photography will tell you a story." And that is what they did for their life, and that is what I have tried to do with my life."

Check out Steven Poster's episode on Tuesday's Cinematic Immunity podcast.  Make sure to say hi to us on Facebook, Instagram, and twitter.  Also follow and subscribe to our podcast on iTunes, Soundcloud and Stitcher!

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