Russell Carpenter

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Russell Carpenter
Russell Paul Carpenter

(1950-12-09) December 9, 1950 (age 70)
Other namesRuss Carpenter
Paul Carpenter
Occupation Cinematographer
Years active1978-present
Spouse(s)Donna Ellen Conrad
Awards Academy Award for Best Cinematography (1997) for Titanic ; Lifetime Achievement Award (2017) from the American Society of Cinematographers

Russell Paul Carpenter, ASC (born December 9, 1950) is an American cinematographer [1] [2] and photographer [3] with a long career as Director of Photography of theatrical motion pictures. He was honored with the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers.


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 as director of photography has been in blockbuster films, including: True Lies , Ant-Man , XXX: Return of Xander Cage , This Means War , Monster-in-Law , Charlie's Angels (2000) , its sequel Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle , and many more. [6] In addition, some of his work has been in independent and genre cinema with films, including: Parched, The Lawnmower Man , and Hard Target. His documentary cinematography includes George Harrison: Living in the Material World, directed by Martin Scorsese. It earned six nominations at the 64th Primetime Emmy Awards, including Outstanding Cinematography for Nonfiction Programming for the cinematography team. [7]

Carpenter also shot the Michael Jackson music video, Ghosts , directed by Stan Winston.

He has had a long collaborative relationship with director/writer/producer James Cameron as well as with directors Robert Luketic and McG.

Early life and education

The grandson of a film sound engineer, Carpenter was born in Van Nuys, California in 1950 to a family of six. [8] After his parents divorced in 1960, he moved with his mother and three siblings to Orange County, where he took up Super 8 films as a hobby. [8] 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 channel, where he learned the ropes of documentary filmmaking. After graduating, he moved back to Orange County, where he shot educational films and documentaries. [8]


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 , written and directed by Mick Garris. The Los Angeles Times criticized the film but praised Carpenter's cinematography. [9]

Carpenter had earlier worked as a Director of Photography (DP) on numerous low-budget horror films like Sole Survivor and Cameron's Closet . In 1983, he shot The Wizard of Speed and Time , a special effects-laden experimental film directed by animator Mike Jittlov. [10] His first major studio film was Critters 2: The Main Course . 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 , Russell Carpenter and James Cameron met at the home of Edward Furlong, during his 15th birthday party. Russell was the DP for Furlong's movie Pet Semetary 2. Carpenter and Cameron collaborated on the 1994 Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jamie Lee Curtis action comedy True Lies, [8] Their next collaboration, Titanic, which carried away eleven Oscars in 1997, including Best Picture. Carpenter's work on Titanic earned him nine industry awards and a nomination for a BAFTA Award.


Personal life

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

Carpenter is married to Donna Ellen Conrad and has one son, Graham (from a previous marriage), a stepson Zak Selbert, daughter-in-law Gaudia Correia, and two granddaughters.


Dagger-14-plain.pngDenotes films that have not yet been released


1983 The Wizard of Speed and Time Mike Jittlov
1984 Sole Survivor Thom Eberhardt
1988 Lady in White Frank LaLoggia
Cameron's Closet Armand Mastroianni
Critters 2: The Main Course Mick Garris
1990 Solar Crisis Richard C. Sarafian
Death Warrant Deran Sarafian
1991 The Perfect Weapon Mark DiSalle
1992 The Lawnmower Man Brett Leonard
Pet Sematary Two Mary Lambert
1993 Hard Target John Woo
1994 True Lies James Cameron 1st collaboration with James Cameron
1995 The Indian in the Cupboard Frank Oz
1996 T2 3-D: Battle Across Time James Cameron
John Bruno
Stan Winston
Theme park attraction

Co-cinematographer with Sulejman Medenčević & Peter Anderson

1997 Money Talks Brett Ratner Co-cinematographer with Robert Primes
Titanic James Cameron 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
Nominated- BSC Award for Best Cinematography
Nominated- Satellite Award for Best Cinematography
1998 The Negotiator F. Gary Gray
2000 Charlie's Angels McG 1st collaboration with McG
2001 Shallow Hal The Farrelly Brothers
2003 Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle McG
2004 Noel Chazz Palminteri
2005 Monster-in-Law Robert Luketic First collaboration with Robert Luketic
2007 Awake Joby Harold
2008 21 Robert Luketic
2009 The Ugly Truth
2010 Killers
2011 A Little Bit of Heaven Nicole Kassell
George Harrison: Living in the Material World Martin Scorsese Documentary film
Co-cinematographer with Robert Richardson & Martin Kenzie
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 Noelle Marc Lawrence
2022 Avatar 2 James CameronPost-production [11] [12]
Shot back-to-back
2024 Avatar 3

Short films

1990Redlands Joan Taylor
1997 Michael Jackson's Ghosts Stan Winston
2007Lucifer Ray Griggs
2009Down and OutMatthew MebaneSegment of Locker 13
2014Sins of the Father Rachel Howard
2016The Final Adventure of John & Eleanor GreeneMatthew Mebane

Additional photography credit

1986 Critters Stephen Herek Tim Suhrstedt Additional photography
1988 Lucky Stiff Anthony Perkins Jacques Haitkin
A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master Renny Harlin Steven Fierberg
1989 Puppet Master David Schmoeller Sergio Salvati
A Nightmare on Elm Street 5: The Dream Child Stephen Hopkins Peter Levy Second unit photography
Pet Sematary Mary Lambert Peter Stein Additional photography
2003 The Human Stain Robert Benton Jean-Yves Escoffier


1985The Lemon Grove IncidentDocumentary special
1987Rolling Stone Presents Twenty Years of Rock & Roll
1988 CBS Schoolbreak Special Episode: "No Means No"
1991 The Wonder Years 4 episodes
1993 Attack of the 50 Ft. Woman Television film

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  2. Staff, (2015-02-06). "Russell Carpenter | Biography and Filmography | 1950". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
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  5. "True Luminaries: Russell Carpenter - page 3". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  6. "Russell Carpenter". Retrieved 17 October 2019.
  7. "George Harrison: Living In The Material World Awards & Nominations". 16 September 2012. Retrieved 1 December 2020.
  8. 1 2 3 4 "Canon DLC: Bio: Russell Carpenter, ASC". Retrieved 2017-07-06.
  9. 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.
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  11. "Russell Carpenter To Receive ASC Lifetime Achievement Award". Shoot . October 5, 2017. Retrieved November 27, 2017.
  12. Geoff Boucher (November 14, 2018). "James Cameron: The 'Avatar' Sequels Have Wrapped Production". Deadline Hollywood . Retrieved November 14, 2018.