The American Society of Cinematographers (ASC), founded in 1919, is an educational, cultural, and professional organization. Neither a labor union nor a guild, ASC membership is by invitation and is extended only to cinematographers, that is directors of photography, and special effects supervisors with distinguished credits in the film industry.
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A precursor to the ASC, the Cinema Camera Club in New York City founded in 1913 by Arthur Charles Miller, Phil Rosen, and Frank Kugler. Arthur Miller and his brother, William Miller, both filmmakers in New York City, worked together and established a union for cinematography workers called the Motion Picture Industry Union. Arthur Miller left to work in Hollywood, California, one year after the Motion Picture Industry Union was formed. The ASC was chartered in California in January 1919 by Miller and claims to be the "oldest continuously operating motion picture society in the world".
The society's publication, American Cinematographer magazine began in 1920. The magazine focuses on the cinematography of current motion picture releases, including interviews with cinematographers and technical information.
Other than the magazine, the ASC also publishes the American Cinematographer Manual. The first edition was published in 1935 by Jackson J. Rose as The American Cinematographer Hand Book and Reference Guide. The Hand Book evolved from the Cinematographic Annual only published twice, in 1930 and 1931. Rose's handbook went through nine editions by the middle of the 1950s, and it was from this book that the modern American Cinematographer Manual originated. The first edition of the new manual was published in 1960, and is now in its ninth edition (2004).