Billed as "The International Journal of Film and Digital Production Techniques," American Cinematographer focuses on the art and craft of cinematography, going behind the scenes on productions of all shapes and sizes. The magazine features in-depth interviews with cinematographers, directors and some of their key collaborators at every stage of production. The magazine also features historical articles, technical how-to pieces, and information on the latest tools and technologies that impact the cinematographer's craft.
The American Society of Cinematographers was founded in 1919, and American Cinematographer was initiated on November 1, 1920 as a twice-monthly four-page tabloid-sized newsletter about the ASC and its members, and soon became the "Magazine of Record" for the ASC. In 1922, the publication went monthly. In 1929, new editor Hal Hall started to change the publication; he reformatted it to standard magazine size, increased the page count, and included more articles on amateur filmmaking. For a while during the 1930s, the magazine was devoted to professional cinematography and amateur moviemaking in equal measure. In 1937, the ASC purchased a Spanish bungalow at 1782 North Orange Drive in Hollywood, California, just around the corner from the famous Grauman's Chinese Theatre. American Cinematographer has been produced at this location ever since.
In recent years, American Cinematographer has expanded its scope to include music videos, short films and commercials; reviews of DVD releases; and coverage of postproduction techniques and technologies. The New Products & Services section, which profiles and reviews the latest tools available to filmmakers, remains one of the magazine's most widely read departments.
American Cinematographer has so far won 10 Maggie Awards (and 37 nominations) for excellence and 4 Folio: Eddie Awards for editorial excellence. It published its 85th anniversary edition in August 2004. Next to Variety (started in 1909), it is the oldest periodical in existence in the motion picture industry. In 2006, American Cinematographer introduced a digital edition, and magazine articles are frequently augmented by expanded coverage on American Cinematographer's Web site: www.theasc.com/magazine.
American Cinematographer is staffed by four editors, one art director and about a dozen freelance writers; contributors include ASC members and other filmmakers.