Alter the way you look at film. Learn the cinematic language of shot design, composition, camera placement, and movement.

Camera position and movement, lens selection, and scene coverage are critical to all forms of narrative storytelling. This one-week workshop is for cinematographers and emerging filmmakers who want to focus on the use of camera in cinematic storytelling. Students learn the cinematic language of shot design, composition, camera placement and movement. The subtle differences in camera operating styles and their effects on the viewer are addressed through exercises and screenings.

Classroom lectures cover film dynamics, screen direction, and the role of the camera in visual storytelling. Students work with scripts as they break down scenes, plan scene coverage, and prepare storyboards and shot lists. Working as a professional camera crew, the class blocks and shoots dramatic and action sequences with actors. Dailies are assembled in editing to help the students discover what is and is not working with their coverage and planning. All work is reviewed and critiqued each day by the faculty. Students leave with a working knowledge of scene design and an understanding of the role the camera plays in the filmmaking process.


"My experience here has reawakened my creativity and passion to make my movie."
- JC Chandler, Maryland Heights, MO

"The Workshops is a unique and wonderful place, the experience of learning here feels so natural you don't even know its happening."
- Ed Ballinger, Allentown, PA

"You won't regret your investment in this great class. This is the class that will teach you the grammar of film."
- Wei Zhou, Mountain View, CA

"It was the best workshop I attended this summer. It alters the way you look at films."
- Shirsha Thakurta, Mumbai, India


Jacek Laskus, ASC


Jacek was born in Warsaw, Poland. Early on he was encouraged to draw and paint. Later, given a still camera, he began taking photographs. This early visual training helped him in his studies at Polish National Film Academy in Lodz. While watching films from all over the world, he was most influenced by two: “Medium Cool” directed by Haskell Wexler, A.S.C and “The Conformist” shot by Vittorio Storaro, A.S.C, A.I.C. After graduating from the Polish National Film Academy with a degree in Cinematography, Jacek left for the United States and made his home in New York City. There, Jacek worked for 5 years for BBC TV traveling all over the U.S. His first full-length film as a cinematographer was “Far from Poland.” The film was shot over the course of a year and portrayed the birth of Solidarity. This film got him noticed by the director Bill Sherwood. “Parting Glances” was the first feature film for both director and cinematographer. The film’s budget was $300,000 and was shot in super 16mm. In 1986 “Parting Glances” was shown in competition at the Sundance Film Festival. Next year came Jacek’s first picture out of Hollywood, “Square Dance” directed by Daniel Petrie Sr., and the film opened the 1987 Sundance Film Festival. In 1989 after working in New York City with directors such as Jonathan Demme and Zbigniew Rybczynski on music videos and Saturday Night Live sketches Jacek moved to Los Angeles. By the end of that year he was asked by director Robert Altman to be the cinematographer on his film “The Caine Mutiny Court Marshal”. This film earned Jacek the 1989 American Society of Cinematographers nomination for Outstanding Cinematography. In 1996 “Garden of Redemption” a WWII drama earned Jacek his second A.S.C nomination. In 1997 Jacek co-lensed a full-length documentary “Colors Straight Up” (the film was primarily shot by his friend Theo Van de Sande, A.S.C). The film was nominated for a 1998 Academy Award. In 2000 Jacek became a member of The American Society of Cinematographers. Jacek has traveled a lot around the world shooting films in Portugal, New Zealand, Italy, Lithuania, Japan, Nepal and Canada. As the technology evolved Jacek embraced the digital media. In “Frankie and Johnny are Married”, the feature written and directed by Michael Pressman Jacek blended four different formats: HI-DEF, Mini DV, super 16mm, and 35mm film to create specific looks for various locations. Jacek continues his second passion - photography. He took part in a group shows, “Still Moving” at the gallery in Los Angeles and in 2006 “Photographs by the members of the A.S.C.” at the Academy of Motion Pictures. In April 2008 he had his first solo exhibit of his photography at the WM Gallery in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Over the course of the past five years Jacek has taught cinematography at a number of colleges including, California Institute of the Arts, The American Film Institute, and Maine Media Workshops. Jacek lives in Hollywood Hills. Besides cinematography and photography he loves to travel, ski, sail, and cooking for friends. Jacek speaks Polish, English and French and holds a EU passport.


Course Dates

Sep 4 to Sep 10




Class Size