Russell Carpenter

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Russell Carpenter, A.S.C.
BornRussell Paul Carpenter
(1950-12-09) December 9, 1950 (age 67)
California, U.S.
Other namesRuss Carpenter

Russell Paul Carpenter, A.S.C. (born December 9, 1950) is an American cinematographer[1][2] and photographer.[3] He shot the 1997 Best Picture-winning film Titanic,[4] for which he won the Academy Award for Best Cinematography.[5] Much of his work has been in independent and genre cinema, with films like Critters 2: The Main Course, The Lawnmower Man, and Hard Target.

Early life[edit]

The grandson of a film sound engineer, Carpenter was born in Van Nuys, California in 1950 to a family of six.[6] After his parents divorced in 1960, he moved with his mother and 4 siblings to Orange County, where he took up Super 8 films as a hobby.[6] He enrolled in San Diego State University to study television directing, but later changed his major to English. To pay for school, he worked at a local public broadcasting, where he learned the ropes of documentary filmmaking. After graduating, he moved back to Orange County, where he shot educational films and documentaries.[6]

Upon relocating to Los Angeles, Carpenter worked as a director of photography on numerous low-budget horror films like Sole Survivor and Cameron's Closet.[citation needed] In 1983, he shot The Wizard of Speed and Time, a special effects-laden experimental film directed by animator Mike Jittlov. Due to difficulties arising in financing and distribution, the film was not released until 1989.[7] His first major studio film was Critters 2: The Main Course, written and directed by Mick Garris. The Los Angeles Times criticized the film but praised Carpenter's cinematography.[8] Two years later, he shot his first science fiction film, Solar Crisis, and his first action film with Death Warrant starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. After shooting several episodes of the television series The Wonder Years, he worked on The Lawnmower Man.

During the production of the John Woo-directed action film Hard Target, Carpenter was contacted by director James Cameron, leading to the two collaborating on the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger action comedy True Lies,[6] Carpenter replaced Cameron's previous director of photography Adam Greenberg. Their following collaboration, Titanic, earned Carpenter both an Academy Award for Best Cinematography and an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases.


Carpenter is most widely known for his early work in horror and genre cinema and for his collaborations with directors James Cameron, McG, and Robert Luketic. His first major project as Director of Photography was the 1988 horror-comedy Critters 2: The Main Course.

His work on the 1997 film Titanic earned him an Academy Award for Best Cinematography, an ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in Theatrical Releases, a nomination for a BAFTA Award, as well as numerous other accolades.

Personal life[edit]

Carpenter is alumnus of Van Nuys High School and San Diego State University. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC).


Year Film Director Other notes
1983 The Wizard of Speed and Time Mike Jittlov Not released until 1989
Sole Survivor Thom Eberhardt
1988 Lady in White Frank LaLoggia
Cameron's Closet Armand Mastroianni
CBS Schoolbreak Special Jeffrey Auerbach TV series;
1 episode
Lucky Stiff Anthony Perkins Additional photography;
with Jacques Haitkin
Critters 2: The Main Course Mick Garris
1989 A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Stephen Hopkins 2nd unit director of photography;
with Peter Levy
Puppet Master David Schmoeller Additional photography;
with Sergio Salvati
1990 Solar Crisis Richard C. Sarafian
Death Warrant Deran Sarafian
Redlands Joan Taylor Short film;
Student film for the AFI
1991 The Perfect Weapon Mark DiSalle
The Wonder Years Lyndall Hobbs
Ken Topolsky
Nick Marck
Daniel Stern
TV series;
4 episodes
1992 The Lawnmower Man Brett Leonard
Pet Sematary Two Mary Lambert
1993 Hard Target John Woo
Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman Christopher Guest TV movie
1994 True Lies James Cameron First collaboration with James Cameron
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard Frank Oz
1996 T2 3-D: Battle Across Time James Cameron Theme park attraction
1997 Money Talks Brett Ratner
Michael Jackson's Ghosts Stan Winston Short film
Titanic James Cameron Academy Award for Best Cinematography
ASC Award for Cinematography
CFCA Award for Best Cinematography
DFWFCA Award for Cinematography
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- BSC Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
1998 The Negotiator F. Gary Gray
2000 Charlie's Angels McG First collaboration with McG
2001 Shallow Hal The Farrelly Brothers
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle McG
The Human Stain Robert Benton Additional photography;
with Jean-Yves Escoffier
2004 Noel Chazz Palminteri
2005 Monster-in-Law Robert Luketic First collaboration with Robert Luketic
2006 Awake Joby Harold
2008 21 Robert Luketic
2009 Locker 13 Matthew Mebane Segment "Down and Out"
The Ugly Truth Robert Luketic
2010 Killers
2011 A Little Bit of Heaven Nicole Kassell
2012 This Means War McG
2013 Jobs Joshua Michael Stern
2014 Return to Sender Fouad Mikati
Beyond the Reach Jean-Baptiste Léonetti
2015 Parched Leena Yadav
Ant-Man Peyton Reed
2017 XXX: Return of Xander Cage D. J. Caruso
2019 Nicole Marc Lawrence Filming[9]
2020 Avatar 2 James Cameron Filming[9]
Shot back-to-back
2021 Avatar 3


  1. ^ "Russell Carpenter, ASC – Features Montage". Worldwide Production Agency | WPA. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  2. ^ Staff, (2015-02-06). "Russell Carpenter | Biography and Filmography | 1950". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  3. ^ "C.Q. | The Photography of Russell Carpenter | Roni Keller". Cultural Weekly. 2013-01-10. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  4. ^ "Titanic's Cinematographer Russell Carpenter - MovieMaker Magazine". MovieMaker Magazine. 1998-07-02. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  5. ^ "True Luminaries: Russell Carpenter - page 3". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  6. ^ a b c d "Canon DLC: Bio: Russell Carpenter, ASC". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  7. ^ "Mike Jittlov's "The Wizard of Speed and Time": His Life's A Special Effect!". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  8. ^ WILMINGTON, MICHAEL (1988-04-29). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Critters 2": Once More With Even Less Taste". Los Angeles Times. ISSN 0458-3035. Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  9. ^ a b "Russell Carpenter To Receive ASC Lifetime Achievement Award". Shoot. October 5, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.

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