2018 Honorees and Honorable Mentions

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A collection of highlights from all of the 2018 honorees.

Hunter Robert Baker

Camera Operator
Peacock Killer

Hunter Robert Baker is a New York City− and Los Angeles−based Emmy-award-winning and two-time Emmy-nominated feature film, television, and commercial director of photography. Baker is an alumnus of NYU, where he studied cinematography and anthropology, balancing his time in special programs in Cuba and South Africa. His projects have been the recipients of support from organizations such as the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the International Documentary Association and, recently, the Points North Fellowship. He was invited to speak at the Impact Haus during the 2016 Sundance Film Festival; the topic was “Empathy in Telling Insider Stories.” Independent Magazine named him a “Filmmaker to Watch.”

In 2012 Baker worked as camera operator on the feature film At Any Price (directed by Ramin Bahrani) for DP Michael Simmonds (Goodbye Solo, The Lunchbox). He also worked as 2nd-unit DP on Adult World (directed by Scott Coffey) for DP James Laxton (California Solo, Moonlight). Baker collaborated with Bahrani on a music video series for Icelandic band Sigur Rós as well.

Baker was the recipient of the ARRI Volker Bahnemann Cinematography Award. In 2013 he shot and produced Without Fire (directed by Eliza McNitt), starring Misty Upham (Frozen River), and in the same year he founded New York City Camera Company, a NYC-based film and TV equipment rental company. He has a large collection of vintage lenses, which he uses for his work in combination with Panavision lenses.

In 2014 Baker collaborated with Director Boyd Holbrook on Peacock Killer, starring Shea Whigham (Boardwalk Empire, Silver Linings Playbook) and Elizabeth Marvel (House of Cards, Homeland).

In 2015 Baker shot and executive-produced the feature film Miles, directed by Nathan Adloff and starring Molly Shannon, Paul Reiser, Missi Pyle, and Tim Boardman, and distributed by Netflix. In 2016 he won three Cannes Lions Awards, a Clio Award, and three One Show Merit Awards, and he received his second Emmy nomination.

In 2018 Baker completed The Blessing, a feature-length documentary set over five years on the Navajo Nation reservation. Director Ramin Bahrani (99 Homes, Farenheit 451) calls it “a unique film, opening doors to a world and characters audiences don’t ever see. It’s poetic and emotional and beautifully shot.”

Baker is an IATSE Local 600 freelancing director of photography in the NY and LA metro areas and abroad.

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Tommy Daguanno

Camera Operator
Detroit Diamond

Tommy Daguanno was born and raised in the metro Detroit area and attended college at Wayne State University in Detroit and Columbia College Chicago. He joined Local 600 in 2011.

After leaving college, Daguanno began working in the feature-film world as a dolly grip. This allowed him to hone his skills working under many great operators and cinematographers, such as Peter Deming, ASC, Maryse Alberti, and Phedon Papamichael, ASC, along with their great grip and electric teams.

Daguanno was head of cinematography for the 2017 short film Detroit Diamond. The short was directed by Hamoody Jaafar, a Detroit native. It was shot on the ARRI Alexa Mini, on Kowa anamorphic lenses, and centers on Diamond, a heroin-addicted mother, who struggles to keep her son from being taken away by the state and reckoning with her demons.

Like most short-film shoots, Diamond was a struggle against a tight shooting schedule and budget. Luckily, Daguanno was able to call on his experienced crew from his commercial work in order to make sure things ran as smoothly as possible.

He would like to thank his wife and daughter for putting up with the roller coaster that is the entertainment industry and allowing him to continue to pursue a career that he loves.

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Dawson, Drew

2nd Assistant

Drew Dawson was born and raised in Beverly Hills, Michigan, where he graduated from Seaholm High School. From there he attended Oakland University, graduating with a bachelor’s degree in Communication and a minor in Studio Art. After finishing his education, Dawson delved into freelance camera work as a photographer, and later as a camera assistant on many independent feature films. His love for film grew as he learned on set, joining ICG in early 2011. Dawson moved to Los Angeles in 2012 to further pursue his passion for cinematography, quickly learning from cinematographers Autumn Durald, James Laxton and Alexis Zabe.

Dawson joined forces with Caleb Slain to shoot “Demon” in 2015. The two had a working relationship from several other short-form narrative projects, although “Demon” presented the unique challenge of shooting under the full moon. Dawson shot several camera tests to figure out how to shoot within the lunar ambiance of the full moon. Ultimately, he landed on the Panavision Varicam 35 with Panavision Ultra Speed Z lenses. The film was completed in June 2017 and won Best Narrative Short Film at Austin Film Festival that year.

Dawson prides himself on being able to adapt to the needs of each individual filmmaker and strives to tap into the core emotive qualities of the subject at hand. He has found that he is compelled by the concepts of impressionism and surrealism, as they relate to story, and he has a tendency to employ negative space and darkness to bring focus to his imagery.

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T. Acton Fitzgerald

Camera Operator

Tom Fitzgerald grew up in Townsend, MA, and as a kid he would produce silly short videos with friends using whatever camera they could get their hands on. As he got into skateboarding, he started to film and edit skateboard videos of his friends. Despite this early interest, Fitzgerald didn’t really think of filmmaking as a career until he was about to graduate high school and needed to figure out what he might want to do next. One of his high school teachers saw potential in the videos he was making for fun and guided him toward film school.

Right after graduating high school, Fitzgerald attended the nine-month film school Center for Digital Imaging Arts. Slowly learning what it meant to be a director of photography, he took an eight-year detour as a 1st AC working under many talented DP’s. After six years as a first AC in the 600, Fitzgerald has since re-rated to operator, and he is pursuing a career as a DP.

For Intrusions, Fitzgerald teamed up with long-time friend and collaborator David Nolin Bouley. The film was shot on the ARRI Alexa and anamorphic Primos.

Recent work includes music videos for artists including The Cold Seas, The Parlor Mob, and Junius, as well as the Vimeo Staff-Pick short documentary American Juggalo 2 (directed by Sean Dunne).

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Clifford Jones

Digital Imaging Technician
Baby Steps

I started taking pictures in junior high in the small North Carolina town of Apex with an Ansco 35-mm rangefinder still camera that my dad gave me. I took a photography class in the 9th grade and set up a darkroom in our downstairs bathroom. At that time, I never considered using a camera for my future career; I just enjoyed taking pictures. After giving up on engineering at N.C. State University, I took a production class and was instantly hooked! I switched to Speech Communication/Radio and TV production.

I worked at local broadcast TV stations for a couple of years until my friend told me he was moving to Los Angeles to study filmmaking, and I decided to go with him. I worked on student films and low-budget projects, starting me on my journey within the camera department, eventually racking up enough days to join Local 600.

Working with Baby Steps director (and fellow Local 600 member) Eric Dyson was an exceptional experience. I’d known Eric from having worked with him in the past. Not long after I received my first ECA in 2016, Eric called me about a short he had written and wanted to direct. I was excited to work with him. Eric’s an intelligent, motivated, super-nice guy. We put together an outstanding crew, including a host of talented Local 600 members, starting with our awesome producer Megan Morris. David Erickson, Eric Wheeler, Genna Palermo, Drew Suppa, and fellow 2016 ECA alumnus Alejandro Wilkins also brought their superior skills and attitudes to the project.

I’ve been privileged to work with many talented filmmakers who generously shared their insights as I sought out my path as a cinematographer. Along for the ride has been my constant source of encouragement and support, my amazing wife, Cheukwa.

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Martin Moody

1st Assistant

Born in Germany and moving to the United States in his teens, Martin Moody has had a diverse upbringing. He has seen much of the world and experienced many colorful cultures, which is something he continues to enjoy today. With his ever-growing experiences and diverse points of view, storytelling through filmmaking came to Moody and drives his cinematography style.

After his basic college education and finding his love for visual storytelling, Moody settled in Los Angeles, where he completed the cinematography program at the Los Angeles Film School. With hard work, his education continued on set, working as union camera assistant under such A-list directors of photography as Phedon Papamichael, ASC, on Academy-nominated productions.

The mix of artistic and technical worlds pushes Moody to continuously find new ways of combining both elements in creating unique and powerful images to tell stories that move people. This includes the ever-changing world of digital cinematography and knowing how to capture on celluloid film. Eastside Camera Services has helped Moody stay on top of new technology to utilize current tools in his storytelling.

Moody now has more than ten years of experience, having shot multiple feature films and countless commercials and music videos captured for major brands, artists, and collaborators. He is currently continuing his filmmaking journey based out of Los Angeles, always expanding his knowledge and skill set in the fast-moving world of content creation worldwide.

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Alicia Robbins

Camera Operator
Internet Gangsters

Alicia Robbins is an LA-based director of photography and a Local 600 operator. She graduated with an MFA in cinematography from AFI in 2003 and joined the Local 600 in 2007. Since then, she has shot nine features and numerous commercials, documentaries, and television projects. She is the lead operator for DrivingPlates.com, filming immersive environments for films such as The Irishman, The Post, Tag, and Creed 2, and for such TV programs as SWAT, Scorpion, and Timeless. The Wedding Invitation, her most recently released feature as DP, won Best Romantic Comedy at the 2016 Manhattan Film Festival and Best Comedy at Burbank International Festival, and is currently available on Amazon and VOD. Her next two features, Babysplitters (which she is currently shooting) and Forever Not Maybe (completed), are due for release in 2019. Babysplitters is her second collaboration with Director Sam Friedlander, the director of Internet Gangsters, for which she is receiving the ECA.

The short presented an interesting challenge in that it only had a three-person crew (an AC, gaffer, and grip) and one night to shoot. Because of this, pre-production was vital in the making of the short, and everyone on the team had to be on the same page. Internet Gangsters was shot on the Canon C300 Mark II and with Xeen Cinema Primes. For lighting, she strategically placed small units in the frame, many of which were Cineo LED’s to give the film depth and variety.

Robbins would like to thank her husband, David C. Smith, for being supportive of her career from the very beginning. She would also like to thank her parents, Mary Lynne and Tommy, her sister Theresa and brother-in-law Dale for their ongoing support and for encouraging the move to L.A. many years ago!

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Gus Sacks

Digital Imaging Technician

Gus Sacks grew up in Philadelphia, PA. Inspired by his grandfather’s passion for making home movies, Sacks begged for a Panasonic VHS-C camcorder of his own for his 9th birthday. He was fortunate enough to receive one, and it changed everything. His goal was to someday be behind the camera, making films for a living.

In 2006 Sacks moved to New York City to follow his dream of working in the film industry. In 2008, he served as DP on his first feature, a film called Ice Grill, USA. He subsequently shot a number of award-winning independent features and shorts.

Solid-state video recording and new camera workflows presented another avenue for Sacks to be on set and learning while pursuing a shooting career. Sacks joined the ICG in 2013 as a digital imaging technician, and mostly worked in commercials. He often worked with cinematographers like Anthony Wolberg, Martin Ahlgren, and Trent Opaloch. Being able to watch them work and to collaborate with them was invaluable and educational.

In 2016 the cart and monitors went up for sale. Sacks, his wife Lindsey, the dogs and cat got into the car and headed west in search of gold and new opportunities. Since moving to Los Angeles, he’s shot an award-winning short doc, Long Shot, and projects for brands like KFC, Amazon, GE and Disney.

Sacks says, “Embalmer was shot in two days out in Riverside, California. Our director, Jimmy Moreno, and producer, Stephanie Barnes, created a textured, nuanced film with very few resources. Our modest equipment package was a SONY FS7 with Rokinon lenses, a few Quasars and Nila lights. I’d like to thank Jimmy and Stephanie for the opportunity to make something really special, and my crew for their ingenuity and hard work.”

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David Stragmeister

Camera Operator
Intergalactic Samurai

David Stragmeister has been making his way as an autodidact since the age of 16 as the youngest news cameraman in the Israeli national broadcast channel. In the film industry, Stragmeister gained experience as a gaffer and 1st AC for numerous projects, including major feature films produced in Israel. Since then, he has shot several feature films, documentaries and myriad music videos and commercials. Stragmeister’s work has found success at prestigious film festivals internationally, including the Cannes Film Festival, the Venice Film Festival and the International Documentary Film Festival Amsterdam.

Among his entries was Dead Woman Walking, which premiered in the 2018 Tribeca Film Festival. His work on the Russian film NO-ONE was awarded Best Cinematography at the 2018 Vienna Film Festival. Stragmeister is a graduate of the Cinematography program at the American Film Institute.

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