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Matthew F. Leonetti

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Matthew F. Leonetti
Matthew Frank Leonetti

(1941-07-31) July 31, 1941 (age 82)
Alma materLoyola Marymount University
Years active1970–present
RelativesJohn R. Leonetti (brother)
AwardsASC President's Award

Matthew Frank Leonetti A.S.C. (born July 31, 1941) is an American cinematographer.[1][2][3] Accomplished and highly prolific,[1][4] he has worked on dozens of well-known and acclaimed films spanning numerous genres,[4][3] including Poltergeist, Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Weird Science, Jagged Edge, Strange Days, and Star Trek: First Contact.[1][2] He has collaborated with directors such as Tobe Hooper, Walter Hill, John Hughes, Kenneth Branagh, Kathryn Bigelow, Zack Snyder, and The Farrelly Brothers.

Early life


Leonetti was born in Los Angeles, California in 1941. His father Frank was a filmmaker and cinematographer who served as a gaffer and lighting technician on low-budget B-movies like The Violent Years, Frankenstein's Daughter, and Beyond the Time Barrier.[2]



Leonetti began his career working on a number of projects with his father, serving as a camera operator on films like Adam at 6 A.M. and The Organization.[2][3] He soon fell in with Jerry Jameson, a prolific television director who dabbled in feature films.[5][3]

His debut as cinematographer was The Bat People, a horror B-movie directed by Jameson and starring Stewart Moss and Michael Pataki, on which he also served as an executive producer.[6] Though the film came and went with little fanfare, it did gain a minor cult following years later after being featured on an episode Mystery Science Theater 3000.[7] Leonetti spent much of the 1970s shooting made-for-television films directed by Jameson.[3]

In 1979, Leonetti shot his first big-budget theatrical film in the form of the Academy Award-winning Breaking Away, directed by Peter Yates.[8] Three years later, he shot the Academy Award-nominated Poltergeist,[9] where he was responsible for creating many of the film's iconic images.[10] This proved to be his big break, and in the following years he quickly became one of the most prolific and accomplished DPs in the film industry, shooting films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Weird Science, Commando,[11] and Jagged Edge.[12] In 1987, he began a collaboration with director Walter Hill, which would continue of the course of several films into the 1990s. Throughout that decade, he would work with directors like Kenneth Branagh, Kathryn Bigelow, and William Dear. His work on the cult science fiction noir Strange Days[13] earned him a nomination for Best Cinematography from the Chicago Film Critics Association. He shot two entries in the Star Trek film franchise, and served as DP on his brother John R. Leonetti's directorial debut, Mortal Kombat Annihilation.[14]

In the early 2000s, Leonetti shot a string of blockbuster thriller and action films; including Along Came a Spider, 2 Fast 2 Furious, Rush Hour 2, and The Butterfly Effect. He shot the 2004 remake of Dawn of the Dead, which served as the feature film debut of director Zack Snyder.[15] Since 2006, he has mostly worked on comedy films, many of which are directed by the Farrelly Brothers. In 2015, he was the recipient of a Special Honor Prize, the President's Award, from the American Society of Cinematographers.[4]

Personal life


Leonetti has a younger brother, John, who is himself a prolific cinematographer and occasional film director. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University.[1]




Year Title Director Notes
1974 The Bat People Jerry Jameson Also executive producer
1977 Mr. Billion Jonathan Kaplan
The Chicken Chronicles Frank Simon
1979 Breaking Away Peter Yates
1980 Raise the Titanic Jerry Jameson
1981 Eyewitness Peter Yates
1982 Poltergeist Tobe Hooper
Fast Times at Ridgemont High Amy Heckerling
1984 The Buddy System Glenn Jordan
The Ice Pirates Stewart Raffill
Songwriter Alan Rudolph
1985 Fast Forward Sidney Poitier
Weird Science John Hughes
Jagged Edge Richard Marquand
Commando Mark L. Lester
1986 Jumpin' Jack Flash Penny Marshall
1987 Extreme Prejudice Walter Hill
Dragnet Tom Mankiewicz
1988 Action Jackson Craig R. Baxley
Red Heat Walter Hill
1989 Johnny Handsome
1990 Hard to Kill Bruce Malmuth
Another 48 Hrs. Walter Hill
1991 Dead Again Kenneth Branagh
1992 Leap of Faith Richard Pearce
1994 Angels in the Outfield William Dear
A Low Down Dirty Shame Keenen Ivory Wayans
1995 Strange Days Kathryn Bigelow Nominated- CFCA Award for Best Cinematography
1996 Fled Kevin Hooks
Star Trek: First Contact Jonathan Frakes
1997 Mortal Kombat Annihilation John R. Leonetti
1998 Species II Peter Medak
Star Trek: Insurrection Jonathan Frakes
2001 Along Came a Spider Lee Tamahori
Rush Hour 2 Brett Ratner
2003 2 Fast 2 Furious John Singleton
2004 The Butterfly Effect Eric Bress
J. Mackye Gruber
Dawn of the Dead Zack Snyder
2005 Fever Pitch The Farrelly Brothers
Santa's Slay David Steiman
2006 Accepted Steve Pink
2007 Pride Sunu Gornea
The Heartbreak Kid The Farrelly Brothers
2008 What Happens in Vegas Tom Vaughan
Soul Men Malcolm D. Lee
2011 Hall Pass The Farrelly Brothers
2012 The Three Stooges
2013 Movie 43 Peter Farrelly Segments "The Pitch" and "The Catch"
2014 Dumb and Dumber To The Farrelly Brothers

Additional photography

Year Title Director DoP.
1988 Elvira: Mistress of the Dark James Signorelli James B. Campbell
1992 Freejack Geoff Murphy Amir Mokri
1993 Demolition Man Marco Brambilla Alex Thomson
1999 Pushing Tin Mike Newell Gale Tattersall
2007 Halloween Rob Zombie Phil Parmet
2008 College Road Trip Roger Kumble Theo van de Sande
2010 The Expendables Sylvester Stallone Jeffrey L. Kimball



TV movies

Year Title Director
1974 The Elevator Jerry Jameson
Terror on the 40th Floor
It Couldn't Happen to a Nicer Guy Cy Howard
Hurricane Jerry Jameson
1975 The Secret Night Caller
Search for the Gods Jud Taylor
The Deadly Tower Jerry Jameson
The Lives of Jenny Dolan
1976 High Risk Sam O'Steen
The Call of the Wild Jerry Jameson
1977 The Spell Lee Philips
Flight to Holocaust Bernard L. Kowalski
The Hostage Heart Bernard McEveety
1978 Superdome Jerry Jameson
Ruby and Oswald Mel Stuart
Special Olympics Lee Philips
The Comedy Company
A Fire in the Sky Jerry Jameson
1979 The Triangle Factory Fire Scandal Mel Stuart
Willa Joan Darling
Claudio Guzmán
Son-Rise: A Miracle of Love Glenn Jordan
1980 Turnover Smith Bernard L. Kowalski
1981 Crazy Times Lee Philips
Stand By Your Man Jerry Jameson
1982 Mae West Lee Philips
E.T. and Friends: Magical Movie Visitors Malcolm Leo
Andrew Solt
Hotline Jerry Jameson
1983 Happy Lee Philips
1986 American Geisha
Under the Influence Thomas Carter
1988 Secret Witness Eric Laneuville

TV series

Year Title Director Notes
1978 The American Girls Lee Philips Episode "The Phoenix Connection"
1982 Tucker's Witch Peter H. Hunt Episode "The Good Witch of Laurel Canyon"
1983 Lottery! Lee Philips Episode "Being a Winner"
1984 Jessie Richard Michaels Episode "Pilot"
2008 Unhitched The Farrelly Brothers Episode "Pilot"


  • Kay Weniger: Das große Personenlexikon des Films, Band 4, Page 690, Berlin (2001) ISBN 3-89602-340-3


  1. ^ a b c d "Matthew Leonetti | Biography and Filmography | 1941". Hollywood.com. 2015-02-06. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  2. ^ a b c d "MATTHEW LEONETTI". www.cinematographers.nl. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  3. ^ a b c d e "Camera Op to Cinematographer: Matt Leonetti & His Road to Hollywood Success". www.productionhub.com. 9 October 2014. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  4. ^ a b c "ASC Announces Four Cinematogaphers To Receive Special Honors". Variety 411. 2014-09-27. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  5. ^ Hart, Henry (2000-04-22). James Dickey: The World as a Lie. Macmillan. ISBN 9780312203207.
  6. ^ "The Bat People". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  7. ^ "Episode guide: 1010- IT Lives By Night « Satellite News". www.mst3kinfo.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  8. ^ "CINEMATOGRAPHER LEONETTI BREAKING AWAY FROM THE MOLD -". 2016-09-06. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  9. ^ Galluzzo, Rob (2017-07-14). "Confirmation? Who Really Directed Poltergesit?". Blumhouse.com. Archived from the original on 2017-09-01. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  10. ^ "Poltergeist (1982) / Matthew Leonetti, ASC, and Richard Edlund, ASC - The American Society of Cinematographers". theasc.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  11. ^ "Commando". TVGuide.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  12. ^ "Matthew F. Leonetti – One. Perfect. Shot". oneperfectshot.wordpress.com. 23 January 2015. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  13. ^ "Strange Days". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  14. ^ "Mortal Kombat Annihilation - About The Filmmakers". www.filmscouts.com. Retrieved 2017-08-18.
  15. ^ "DAWN OF THE DEAD - Festival de Cannes". Festival de Cannes. Retrieved 2017-08-18.