“In recognition of those who have made an outstanding contribution to the art of cinematography.”
2017 is not only the CSC’s 60th anniversary, it also marks 30 years of recognizing extraordinary excellence through the CSC’s Masters Award. This special honour is conferred upon cinematographers who have transcended from just practicing their craft into leaders of their craft by influencing the cinematic art form through their exceptional creativity, technical skills and ingenuity. Originally called the Kodak New Century Award, it was renamed the Masters Award in 2014 to reflect industry changes brought about by the digital age. In celebration of the CSC’s 60th anniversary, Canadian Cinematographer is presenting a 10-part series on the exceptional cinematographers who have received the Masters Award. This is part three. By Guido Kondruss
28 • Canadian Cinematographer - March 2017
George Morita csc 1993
eorge Morita csc was born in 1937 to Japanese parents who ran a poultry farm near Chemainus, British Columbia. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor by Japan, the Morita family was uprooted and sent to an internment camp in the B.C. interior for the duration of the Second World War. With the arrival of peace, Morita’s parents were given the choice of repatriation to Japan or passage to eastern Canada. Moving to Japan was inconceivable for the family, since Morita’s father had been living in Canada for the past 40 years and all the children were born in Canada. Toronto became their new home. At age 13, Morita’s journey into film began when he bought a $3 Kodak Baby Brownie camera. Right from Morita’s first roll of film, he began experimenting, shooting double exposures to capture a friend boxing with himself. After graduating from the art program at Central Technical School, Morita landed a job as an ad agency artist. However, when an opening beckoned at a production company, Morita jumped at the chance to become part of Toronto’s nascent film industry. He was a gofer, animator, focus puller and eventually a camera assistant, working on commercials, documentaries and features. By 1965, Morita had transitioned to a cinematographer and began making waves in the commercials world. He became known for his simplified but highly effective lighting style, using a key light and a negative bounce technique. Morita was also considered a technical wizard, who could bring to life the most improbably shot or complicated concept. Besides being a topflight DP, Morita also turned his talents to directing. He was one of the founders of the legendary Partners Film company and later a co-owner of Avion Films. During his 45-year career, Morita shot and directed nearly 3,000 commercial spots, collecting a treasure trove of awards that include Clios, Bessies, U.S. TV and radio awards and a bronze Lion from Cannes. Morita is retired and lives with his wife in Campbellville, Ontario.