Fred J. Koenekamp

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Fred J. Koenekamp, A.S.C.
Born Frederick James Koenekamp
November 11, 1922
Los Angeles, California, U.S.
Died May 31, 2017(2017-05-31) (aged 94)
Bonita Springs, Florida U.S.
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active 1965–1994
Awards Best Cinematography
1974 The Towering Inferno

Frederick James Koenekamp, A.S.C. (November 11, 1922 – May 31, 2017[1]) was an American cinematographer. He was the son of cinematographer Hans F. Koenekamp.

Koenekamp worked in television and feature films from the 1960s. He was nominated for an Oscar for Patton (1970) and Islands in the Stream (1977) and won the Oscar for The Towering Inferno (1974), along with Joseph Biroc. Other films shot by Koenekamp include Papillon (1973), Fun with Dick and Jane (1977), The Swarm (1978) and The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension (1984). He was a frequent collaborator of director Franklin J. Schaffner.

Early life and education[edit]

Fred J. Koenekamp was the son of American cinematographer H. F. Koenekamp, ASC. Hans was the cameraman of Mack Sennett and his career worked with the likes of Charlie Chaplin, Gloria Swanson and the Keystone Cops.[2] Hans would later receive the ASC Presidents Award in 1991. On occasion, as a young boy, Fred would go with his father on the weekends to visit the studios which he worked in. He took particular interest in the Camera and Special Effects Department at Warner Bros.[3]

Despite this background in film, Koenekamp developed a much greater interest in aviation and enrolled in the commercial aviation program at the University of Southern California. When World War II broke out, Koenekamp enlisted in the Navy and served in the South Pacific for three and a half years. Koenekamp would resume his education after the end of the war.[3]

Career[edit]

At the age of 23, Fred received a phone call from Herb Aller, head of the cameraman's union, and was offered a job as a film loader at RKO Pictures. It was during this time in which Fred developed a fascination with the picture business.[3]

During this time, Bill Ellington, head of the camera department at RKO, and Ted Winchester, an associate at RKO, began to mentor Fred and during their spare time in the loading rooms, would teach Fred how to operate and take care of cameras.[3]

The first five years of Koenekemp's career were fairly tumultuous and Fred found himself unemployed and employed again on several occasions. In 1953, Koenekamp received an offer from Bill Ellington to return to RKO to work on several 3D film setups and tests. As business began to pick up at RKO once again, Koenekamp received his first job as an assistant cameraman on Underwater! starring Jane Russell and directed by John Sturges. Koenekamp found himself in Hawaii for seven weeks and developed a skill for underwater photography.[3]

As a result of his experience with underwater photography, Koenekamp found himself at MGM working as an assistant cameraman on a project with Esther Williams. This would initiate Koenekamp's 14-year stint at MGM.[3]

After 5 years working as an assistant cameraman at MGM, Koenekamp became an operator. His first film as an operator was The Brothers Karamazov, a film adapted and directed by Richard Brooks. Moving from assistant cameraman to operator, Koenekamp described the increase in responsibilities as a daunting task. It was during this time in which Koenekamp learned how to light scenes, compose shots, and work with a director. At MGM, Fred developed close working relations with Robert Surtees, ASC and Milton Krasner, ASC. Koenekamp worked with Surtees as a technician on Raintree County, the first film shot with Panavision 70.[3]

Koenekamp became an operator for Gunsmoke as business began to slow down at MGM. When the series wrapped, Fred found himself a 4-year stint working on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and earned himself two Emmy nominations for his work on the 1964-65 and 1965-66 seasons. Koenekamp would receive his first credit as a cinematographer for 1966's The Spy with My Face, a big screen adaptation of The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Within the next three years, Koenekamp worked on four more features with MGM—Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding!, with Sandra Dee and George Hamilton; Stay Away, Joe (1968) and Live a Little, Love a Little, and Heaven with a Gun, with Glenn Ford. Koenekamp would then move on to work with Warner Bros. on The Great Bank Robbery.[3]

In the midst of working on The Great Bank Robbery, Koenekamp received a call from his agent regarding interviewing with director Frank Schaeffer for Patton (1970). A week later, Frank received a call informing him that he was selected to be the cinematographer for the film. Patton shot in several locations including England, Greece, North Africa and Spain, and while shooting, Koenekamp developed a very close working relation with Schaeffer. It was for Patton which Koenekamp received his first Academy Award for Best Cinematography nomination.[3][4]

Koenekamp worked with Fox and director John Guillermin for 1974 action-drama disaster film The Towering Inferno. Fred worked with cinematographer Joseph Biroc on the film and the two would win their first Academy Award for Best Cinematography.[4] Koenekamp and Biroc would go on to work on four more features together.[3]

Koenekamp reunited with Frank Schaeffer to work on Islands in the Stream and received his third Academy award nomination.[4]

Legacy[edit]

Koenekamp retired at the age of 67 as a result of his displeasure with the quality of the films he was working on. His last film was Flight of the Intruder (1991).

Throughout his career as a cinematographer, Koenekamp preferred to work with the same crew. He had three assistants—Mike Benson, Ed Morey and Chuck Arnold, all of which he eventually made operators. All three would eventually become cinematographers as well.

Koenkamp was honored with an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement on February 20, 2004.[5]

Koenekamp died, at the age of 94, on May 31, 2017.[citation needed]

Filmography[edit]

Films[edit]

Year Title Dir. Notes
1967 Doctor, You've Got to Be Kidding! Peter Tewksbury
1968 Sol Madrid Brian G. Hutton
Stay Away, Joe Peter Tewksbury
Live a Little, Love a Little Norman Taurog
1969 Heaven with a Gun Lee H. Katzin
The Great Bank Robbery Hy Averback
1970 Beyond the Valley of the Dolls Russ Meyer
Patton Franklin J. Schaffner Nominated for Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Won Golden Laurel Award
Flap Carol Reed
1971 Billy Jack Tom Laughlin
Skin Game Paul Bogart

Gordon Douglas

Happy Birthday, Wanda June Mark Robson
1972 Stand Up and Be Counted Jackie Cooper
The Magnificent Seven Ride George McCowan
Kansas City Bomber Jerrold Freedman
Rage George C. Scott
1973 Harry in Your Pocket Bruce Geller
Papillon Franklin J. Schaffner
1974 Uptown Saturday Night Sidney Poitier
The Towering Inferno John Guillermin with Joseph F. Biroc

Won Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated for BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography

1975 Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze Michael Anderson
Posse Kirk Douglas
White Line Fever Jonathan Kaplan
1976 Embryo Ralph Nelson
1977 Fun with Dick and Jane Ted Kotcheff
The Domino Principle Stanley Kramer
The Other Side of Midnight Charles Jarrott
The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training Michael Pressman
Islands in the Stream Franklin J. Schaffner Nominated for Academy Award for Best Cinematography
1978 The Swarm Irwin Allen
1979 Love and Bullets Stuart Rosenberg
The Champ Franco Zeffirelli
The Amityville Horror Stuart Rosenberg
1980 When Time Ran Out James Goldstone
The Hunter Buzz Kulik
First Family Buck Henry
1981 Carbon Copy Michael Schultz
First Monday in October Ronald Neame
1982 Wrong Is Right Richard Brooks
Yes, Giorgio Franklin J. Schaffner
It Came from Hollywood Andrew Solt
1983 Two of a Kind John Herzfeld
1984 The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension W. D. Richter with Jordan Cronenweth
1986 Stewardess School Ken Blancato
1989 Listen to Me Douglas Day Stewart
Welcome Home Franklin J. Schaffner
1991 Flight of the Intruder John Milius

Television[edit]

Year Title Notes
1963-1964 The Lieutenant 28 episodes
1964-1967 The Man from U.N.C.L.E. 90 episodes
1965 The Outer Limits 1 episode
1966 Jericho
1968 Mission: Impossible 2 episodes
1968 Shadow on the Land Television film
1970 Night Chase
1971 In Search of America
1971 The Deadly Hunt
1971 Crosscurrent
1972-1973 Kung Fu 3 episodes
1973 Hawkins
1975 The Runaway Barge Television film
1975 Conspiracy of Terror
1979 Salvage 1 Pilot episode
1979 Disaster on the Coastliner Television film
1982 Tales of the Gold Monkey 2 episodes
1982 Money on the Side Television film
1983 Return of the Man from U.N.C.L.E.
1984 Summer Fantasy
1984 Obsessive Love
1984 City Killer
1984 Flight 90: Disaster on the Potomac
1984 The Vegas Strip War
1984 A Touch of Scandal
1985 Not My Kid
1985 The Other Lover
1985 Amos
1985 Alice in Wonderland Miniseries

2 episodes

1986 Pleasures Television film
1986 News at Eleven
1986-1987 Walt Disney's Wonderful World of Color 5 episodes
1987 Student Exchange Television film
1988 14 Going on 30
1988 Splash, Too
1989 Hard Time on Planet Earth 1 episode

Awards & nominations[4][edit]

Nominated:[edit]

Won:[edit]

References[edit]