Dean Semler

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Dean Semler, ACS. ASC
Dean William Semler

1943 (age 7677)
OccupationCinematographer, film director
Known for Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
Dances with Wolves
Dead Calm
Awards Academy Award for Best Cinematography
Dances with Wolves 1991 AACTA Award for Best Cinematography
A Steam Train Passes 1975
Razorback 1984
Dead Calm 1989

Dean Semler, A.C.S., A.S.C., (born May 26, 1943) is an Australian cinematographer and film director. [1] [2] Over his career, he has worked as a cinematographer, camera operator, director, second unit director, and assistant director. He is a three-time recipient of the AACTA Award for Best Cinematography and an Academy Award winner. He is a member of both the Australian Cinematographers Society (ACS) and the American Society of Cinematographers (ASC). [3] In 2002 he was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia (AM). [4]


Life and career

Early years

Semler was born in Renmark, South Australia. His first work in the production industry was as a camera operator at a local television station. Later, he began making documentary and educational films for Film Australia. He was the cinematographer for A Steam Train Passes (1974), Moving On (1974), Let the Balloon Go (1976), and A Good Thing Going (1978).


His first film was Stepping Out, in 1980. Allmovie praised his "stunning work" on the film Hoodwink (1981) with a screen play by Ken Quinnell. Semler was also the cinematographer for Mad Max 2 (1981). Semler's vast panoramic shots of the Australian Outback's deserts "...convincingly conveyed a parched, dusty, post-apocalyptic world" [5] and led to international attention for his work. Semler also acted as cinematographer for the follow-up film to The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985). Semler was also a cinematographer for the acclaimed Australian miniseries Bodyline (1984). [6] In the late 1980s, Semler was the cinematographer for several popular films, such as Cocktail (1988) and Young Guns (1988).


In 1990, Semler was hired as cinematographer for Kevin Costner's Dances with Wolves , for which he won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography. Semler lensed the comedy City Slickers (1991) and the action film Last Action Hero (1993) in the early 1990s. In 1995, Semler again worked with Costner on his film Waterworld . In 1992 Semler was the cinematographer of The Power of One


In the 2000s, Semler was the cinematographer for a range of movies that included comedies ( Nutty Professor II: The Klumps from 2000, and Bruce Almighty from 2003), action films ( XXX from 2002 and The Alamo from 2004). In the mid-2000s, Semler was the cinematographer for the football comedy The Longest Yard (2005) and Just My Luck (2006). In 2006, Semler worked with Mel Gibson again for the film Apocalypto . Semler's camera work conveyed the beauty of the lush Mesoamerican jungle setting in Apocalypto.



1971Where Dead Men LieKeith Gow
The Choice Donald Crombie Documentary
1973Through My Eyes:
Kilkenny Primary School, South Australia
Also camera operator
Through My Eyes:
Stradbroke Infants School, South Australia
One Good ReasonShort film;
Also camera operator
I Need More StaffShort film
1974 Moving On Richard Mason
A Steam Train Passes David HaythornwaiteDocumentary short
1976 Let the Balloon Go Oliver Howes
1977Outback SupplyDavid HaythornwaiteShort film;
Also camera operator
1979SaturdayHimselfShort film
1980War Without WeaponsCurtis LevyShort film
Stepping Out Chris Noonan Documentary
1981 Hoodwink Claude Whatham
Mad Max 2 George Miller
1983 Kitty and the Bagman Donald Crombie
1984Undercover David Stevens
Razorback Russell Mulcahy
1985 Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome George Miller
George Ogilvie
The Coca-Cola Kid Dusan Makavejev
1987 Bullseye Carl Schultz
Going Sane Michael Robertson
The Lighthorsemen Simon Wincer Also camera operator
1988 Cocktail Roger Donaldson
Young Guns Christopher Cain
1989 Farewell to the King John Milius
Dead Calm Phillip Noyce
K-9 Rod Daniel
1990 Impulse Sondra Locke
Young Guns II Geoff Murphy
Dances with Wolves Kevin Costner Academy Award for Best Cinematography
ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- BAFTA Award for Best Cinematography
1991 City Slickers Ron Underwood
1992 The Power of One John G. Avildsen
1993 Super Mario Bros. Rocky Morton
Annabel Jankel
Also second unit director
Last Action Hero John McTiernan
The Three Musketeers Stephen Herek
1994 The Cowboy Way Gregg Champion
1995 Waterworld Kevin Reynolds
1997 Gone Fishin' Christopher Cain
Trojan War George Huang
1999 The Bone Collector Phillip Noyce
2000 Nutty Professor II: The Klumps Peter Segal
2001 Heartbreakers David Mirkin
2002 D-Tox Jim Gillespie
Dragonfly Tom Shadyac
We Were Soldiers Randall Wallace
XXX Rob Cohen
2003 Bruce Almighty Tom Shadyac
2004 The Alamo John Lee Hancock
2005 The Longest Yard Peter Segal
Stealth Rob Cohen
2006 Just My Luck Donald Petrie
Click Frank Coraci
Apocalypto Mel Gibson Dallas–Fort Worth Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Chicago Film Critics Association Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- ASC Award for Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography
2007 I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry Dennis Dugan
2008 Get Smart Peter Segal
Appaloosa Ed Harris
2009 2012 Roland Emmerich
2010 Date Night Shawn Levy
Secretariat Randall WallaceNominated- Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
2011 In the Land of Blood and Honey Angelina Jolie
2012 Parental Guidance Andy Fickman
2013 Grudge Match Peter Segal
2014 Heaven Is for Real Randall Wallace
Maleficent Robert Stromberg
2015 Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2 Andy Fickman
The Last Witch Hunter Breck Eisner
The Ridiculous 6 Frank Coraci
2016 The Do-Over Steven Brill
2017 Sandy Wexler
2019 Playing with Fire Andy Fickman


1976Do I Have to Kill My Child?Donald CrombieTV movie
1978 A Good Thing Going Arch Nicholson TV movie
1980The RussiansTV series documentary
1983 The Dismissal Miniseries;
3 episodes
1983 Return to Eden Karen Arthur Miniseries
1984 Bodyline Miniseries
7 episodes
1986Passion Flower Joseph Sargent TV movie
1988 Great Performances Rodney FisherEpisode "Melba"
The Clean Machine Ken Cameron TV movie

Directing credits

Other credits

1962The Valley of WaterTV movie
Floor manager
1973The Fifth Facade:
The Making of the Sydney Opera House
Camera operator
1974Parent Teacher Interviews
1977CassTV movie;
Second unit director
1984After the FloodShort film;
Camera operator
1989 Lonesome Dove TV miniseries;
Director of photography: Second unit
2002 The Adventures of Pluto Nash Director of photography: Second unit
2008 Bedtime Stories

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  1. "DEAN SEMLER". Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  2. "Dean Semler, ASC, ACS". Murtha Skouras Agency. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  3. "The ASC -- American Cinematographer: ASC Close-Up:". Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  4. "Dean William Semler". Australian Honours Search Facility, Dept of Prime Minister and Cabinet. Retrieved 25 July 2020.
  5. Allmovie biography by Hal Erickson
  6. The Australian Film and Television Companion – Compiled by Tony Harrison, Simon & Schuster, Australia (1994)