A Date with Emmy

Local 600 Members Reflect on Their Nominations

September 16, 2020
Share This Post

The world of television will have its usual date with the Emmys this year – but the awards ceremony will be socially distanced and held virtually over the course of six nights. COVID-19 won’t stop the show from going on. For the 128 Local 600 members who received nominations, the 2020 Emmy ceremonies will be something to remember.

600LIVE! caught up with nominees in several of the categories and asked about their thoughts on Emmys 2020. Local 600 congratulates all of our nominated members and wish them the best of luck!

Photos courtesy of the subjects

 

John Simmons, ASC, Nominee for Outstanding Cinematography for A Multi-Camera Series, for Family Reunion, “Remember Black Elvis?”

How did you celebrate your nomination?
This pandemic makes it a challenge to have a traditional celebration. We had a small celebration with the family here in L.A. and a little Zoom one as well.

Tell us how it feels to be nominated with your peers in this specific category.
All of the nominees in my category are some of my closest longtime friends in the business. It’s  wonderful that we’re all nominated at the same time. It’s very special to me.

What made this particular project so memorable?
Family Reunion is quite different from any sitcom I’ve worked on. It’s a very funny show and mixed with its humor is a perspective on social relevance that speaks to the African American experience, past and present. Meg DeLoatch, the creator and show runner, has given first-time opportunities to so many people in all departments making it a mentorship-friendly environment. This is very important to me since I’m always given lots of creative freedom. Eric Dean Seaton, the director of the episode, and I have a wonderful history together and this episode gave us lots of room to stretch out creatively.

What particular moment from that episode that stands out?
The episode “Remember Black Elvis” is an embellished sharing of history by the McKellan matriarch told through various events surrounding a locket that is passed from generation to generation. The tales inspire the grandchildren to embrace family tradition and brings new meaning to “jumping the broom.” My favorite vignette was the Roaring ‘20s Cotton Club scene. That’s the one I submitted for the nomination.

 

Ava Berkofsky nominee for Outstanding Cinematography for A Single-Camera Series for Insecure, “Lowkey Lost”

How did you celebrate your nomination?
Wow, well getting nominated during a pandemic was a little anti-climactic. I didn’t know I was nominated until I got a text about it, and that night, I might have had an extra glass of wine with my family. It’s a very surreal feeling to celebrate during such a turbulent moment, but I believe in the show we make and what it puts into the world. So it feels more like I’m celebrating that.

Tell us how it feels to be nominated with your peers in this specific category.
It’s beyond an honor to be nominated with this particular group. I hadn’t previously worked with my fellow nominee, Kira Kelly, but I did direct the episode she is nominated for. I was aware of her and her awesome work and asked her to come shoot my episode and was lucky to have her.

What made this particular project such a special or memorable experience?
When I came onto Insecure,  it was with the directive to remake the look of the series, so being asked by my collaborators to push myself, and in turn pushing them, was really exciting. The episode I’m specifically nominated for this year was the finale of the season, directed by the show-runner Prentice Penny. From our first conversations, it was clear he wanted to push the fluidity of what we’ve created as the “look,” and that was also really exciting. Creating a set of rules then breaking them for the final episode.

Is there any particular moment from that episode that stands out?
Ironically, the scene I’m most proud of is the simplest. It’s at the end of the episode, where Issa Rae is out on her balcony alone after a difficult conversation. It was just me with the camera handheld, and her and the sun. We shot a sequence that I think added a lot to the emotional arc of the character.

 

David Mullen, ASC, nominated for Outstanding Cinematography For a Single-Camera Series (One Hour) for The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, “It’s Comedy Or Cabbage”

How did you celebrate your nomination?
In COVID times, it was hard to go out and celebrate the nomination. Mostly I spent the day talking to friends and family over the phone and on the Internet.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
It’s a great honor to be nominated in a year with so much great cinematography on television. I know a number of the nominees in the various cinematography categories but I’ve only worked with Paul Cameron on season two of Westworld.

What made this particular project such a special or memorable experience?
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is a dream project for any cinematographer thanks to the great scripts, direction, and wonderful cast, plus I get to shoot such amazing costumes designed by Donna Zakowska and sets designed by Bill Groom. This episode was also the first of two set in Miami.

Is there any particular moment from that episode that stands out?
The last act of the episode covers a night out on the town between Midge Maisel and Lenny Bruce. We go from an homage to Playboy’s Penthouse, a TV show hosted by Hugh Hefner in his apartment in Chicago, to a nightclub scene that recreates a moment from the movie I Am Cuba, to a magic hour sequence outside a hotel along the bay in Miami.

 

Martin Ahlgren, nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie for The Plot Against America, Part 1

How did you celebrate your nomination?
With my wife stuck in quarantine when the news came in, I brought the good stuff in a brown paper bag and took the kids out for ice cream.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
It’s amazing company to be in and I can feel good about losing to any of the other nominees. I haven’t worked with the most of them, except for Kira Kelly, who gaffed a music video for me a long time ago. However, I have lost out on projects to several of them!

What made this particular project such a special or memorable experience?
This show was an opportunity to be part of something that was attempting to comment on our present times in a nuanced and thought-provoking way. Set in the 1940’s, the show could deal with timeless themes without worrying about keeping up with the fast-changing events of the current political situation. Still, I think the source book as well as our writers were eerily prescient.

Is there any particular moment from that episode that stands out?
As we started watching dailies, I was just struck by how natural and real the family in the show was starting to feel. Imagining the era that my grandparents lived in, and seeing the actors take guidance from not just the events in the script but also by the mores of the time, inspired me and the rest of the crew to put in our best to help realize this world as authentically as possible.

 

Michael Jacob Kerber, nominated for Outstanding Cinematography for A Reality Program for RuPaul’s Drag Race

How did you celebrate your nomination?
We’ve talked about doing something once it’s safer to get together as a group. This is a strange time for celebrations.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
As experienced cinematographers and camera operators, we know what it takes to tell these stories and create the unique images represented across all the Emmy nominations. That appreciation amongst peers makes the recognition all the more special.

What made this particular project such a special or memorable experience?
The fast pace and varied shooting styles we employ make working on RuPaul’s Drag Race an exciting experience. RuPaul and the drag queens are incredible in their many skills and artistic talents, so capturing those and helping amplify them is special and a true honor.

What particular moment from that episode that stands out?
I am proud of the entire season. The cast and crew work really hard and leave it all on the runway. However, I do have to highlight the maxi challenges and runway musical dance numbers as particularly rewarding to help create. Every single person in front of and behind the camera elevates their game and it is really fun to see it all come together.

 

Oscar Dominguez, nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series for The Voice, Live Finale

How did you celebrate your nomination?
You get the butterflies in your stomach. You don’t want to hope too much. Then the texts are coming in and it’s like “Woohoo!” I’ve stopped raising a glass. I spent too many years doing that, so that’s all done, but I get excited. It’s in the morning, so I raise a cup of coffee.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
With a lot of these people, it’s like “Well, of course!” Everyone on that list is amazing. They do excellent work and they respect the craft. You hear it a million times – “It’s an honor.” Well, it really is.

What made this particular project such a special or memorable experience?
It was really the remote aspect of it, the fact that we even got a live show up and that we were able to get the contestants to participate and having their families be our hands on the ground. I feel like the nomination is as much for them as it is for us. Having to talk to people that are 1,000 miles away over a phone and telling them, “Hey, I need you to grab this line, put it over there point it at yourself, now get on camera.” That was a big challenge, but the contestants and their families totally rose to the occasion.

Is there any particular moment from that episode that stands out?
The interesting thing was seeing everyone rise to the challenge and figure it out as opposed to throwing your hands up and saying you just can’t do it. At some point, I was on sitting at this desk on Zoom like 16 hours a day and at one point, I had four separate Zooms happening simultaneously. I was surrounded by machines. It was kind of absurd.

 

Robert Barnhart, nominated for Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Special for Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show Starring Jennifer Lopez and Shakira and for Outstanding Lighting Design/Lighting Direction for a Variety Series for So You Think You Can Dance, Finale

How did you celebrate your nomination?
In COVID times, the celebration was muted.  I always send out an e-mail congratulating the entire team for their achievement. The people named on the nomination certainly are only a tiny portion of the people who actually achieved the ultimate goal.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
It’s always a chilling honor to be nominated for an Emmy.  I know everyone who is nominated in my two categories, and we have worked together in the past.

What made these particular projects such special or memorable experiences?
So You Think You Can Dance is one of the most amazing experiences of my career. For 16 seasons we have been producing moments that I would put up against almost anything I have ever been involved in. Yet the show works on a very short schedule and, compared to the other shows nominated in this category, a very tight budget.  So when it can stand up against the other shows, it truly makes a statement.  The Super Bowl Halftime Show is an animal all to its own. You can’t explain a halftime show; you have to experience it.  So when my colleagues give us a nod, it makes all the pain and stress feel like it just might have been worth it.

 

Scott Kaye, nominated for Outstanding Technical Direction, Camerawork, Video Control for a Series for The Voice – Live Finale

How did you celebrate your nomination?
During the pandemic there really wasn’t a celebration, though MGM TV sent us a very nice glass paperweight acknowledging our nomination, and NBC sent us a nice bottle of wine, both of which are certainly appreciated.

How does it feel to be nominated with your peers in this specific category?
It’s always nice to be nominated. This is our eighth nomination for The Voice, and it’s an honor to be considered for our work along with our peers in Los Angeles and New York. We’ve always been a bridesmaid and never a bride, but it’s nice to be in the wedding party, so to speak.

What made this project or this episode so memorable?
We’ve been making The Voice for 9 1/2 years, and we have a really great team, beginning with our producers who consistently deliver great shows for us to shoot. Our director, Alan Carter, is one of the top directors working today, and his vision and leadership encourages us to bring our A-game every day. Having spent so many years together, we are a work family, and Alan helps create that feeling on our crew. Our lighting designer, Oscar Dominguez, has been recognized for his creative excellence with three Emmys. It would be nice to be recognized for our camerawork, too, as Alan’s direction and our cameras complement Oscar’s beautiful lighting.  Also, we have a great camera team, which includes our camera utilities who give us solid support, a brilliant video controller, Terrance Ho, and all brought together by Allan Wells’ crisp technical direction.  Each of us contributes our best work to make the whole worthy of recognition.

Recent Posts

Trainings During Pandemic a Hit with Members

October 21, 2020

Featured image by Darren Michaels Craft trainings are one of the most popular services offered by Local 600. But the COVID-19 pandemic created a potentially […]

A Day in the Life of Dale Robinette

October 16, 2020

With the “stay at home” order in place, Ashland, OR-based Local 600 Unit Still Photographer Dale Robinette (ICG Magazine, Set 2 One-Sheet) spent his summer […]

Stills Stand Tall for Fundraiser

October 14, 2020

Featured image, “Cadillac Mecca,” by Melinda Sue Gordon When the talented still photographers of Local 600 put their heads together, great things happen. Case in […]

Scroll to Top