Cinematographer Stephen H. Burum will be honored at EnergaCamerimage with the festival’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
Set to run in Torun, Poland, on Nov. 12-19, Camerimage, which focuses on films and cinematography, will celebrate its 30th anniversary this year.
Burum is best known for his collaborations with director Brian De Palma, which yielded such classics as “The Untouchables” (1987), a tale of the battle between good and evil; Vietnam War drama “Casualties of War” (1989); ”Carlito’s Way” (1993), which portrayed deep social divides; the iconic “Mission: Impossible” (1996); “Snake Eyes (1998); and “Mission to Mars” (2000).
His body of work also includes Joel Schumacher’s “St. Elmo’s Fire” (1985), Danny DeVito’s “The War of the Roses (1989), and Ken Kwapis’ and Marisa Silver’s “He Said, She Said” (1991).
Born in rural California in 1939 to a family of that owned and worked on several small newspapers, Burum became interested at an early age in film and shot his first movie with a Kodak Brownie 8mm camera. He attended the UCLA School of Theatre, Film and Television in Los Angeles, where he shot student films and met industry pros.
His first professional experience working behind the camera came in 1964 on the NBC TV wildlife series “Wonderful World of Color,” produced for the Disney Studios. Drafted into the army in 1965, he shot military training films. Back in civilian life, he worked on a variety of commercials, TV shows and indie films – including “Scream Bloody Murder’” directed by Marc B. Ray, and series “Little House on the Prairie.” He shared an Emmy for visual effects on PBS science show “Cosmos.”
In 1976, Burum worked as second unit cameraman and director on the set of his first feature film, “Apocalypse Now,” directed by Francis Ford Coppola, whom he had befriended at UCLA, and then on the second unit of “The Black Stallion,” directed by another UCLA colleague, Carroll Ballard.
Burum’s formal debut as a fully-fledged director of photography in a feature film dates to 1982 when he lensed “The Escape Artist,” a story of a boy exploring the magician’s world, directed by Caleb Deschanel, a fellow cinematographer.
Burnam demonstrated his artistic chops when he joined Coppola on two influential adaptations of popular novels by Susan Eloise Hinton: “The Outsiders” and “Rumble Fish” (both 1983). He was widely praised for his black and white imagery on the latter.
Burum’s career flourished with such films as the war drama “Uncommon Valor” (1983), directed by Ted Kotcheff, the aforementioned “St. Elmo’s Fire” and Hal Ashby’s “8 Million Ways to Die” (1986). He earned an Oscar cinematography nom for DeVito’s “Hoffa” (1992).
Towards the end of his professional career Burum returned to his roots by conducting special film classes as part of The Kodak Cinematographer-in-Residence program at the UCLA Film School.
Burum’s achievements led to American Society of Cinematographers Award nominations for “The Untouchables” and “The War of the Roses,” and the ASC Award for Cinematography in “Hoffa,” which also brought him the above-mentioned Oscar nom. In 2008, ASC bestowed him with its Lifetime Achievement Award.
Burum will be on hand at Camerimage, where some of his films will be screened.
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