THOMAS ACKERMAN, ASC (Director of Photography)
Thomas Ackerman is a graduate of the University of Iowa. His first experience in motion picture industry came as an officer in the United States Air Force. While assigned to the 600th Photo Squadron in the Republic of Viet Nam, Ackerman commanded a combat documentation unit, achieving the rank of Captain before his discharge in 1971.
Ackerman then took a position with Charles Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker based in Washington D.C. with whom he spent three years working on political spots, culminating in the McGovern for President campaign.
In 1974, Ackerman joined Mike Robe to form Robe/Ackerman, Inc. The Hollywood based company grew quickly to offer a wide range of services in commercials, corporate film production, and television.
Beginning in early 1980’s Ackerman devoted himself to commercial shooting and the emerging phenomenon of MTV. Before the end of the decade he amassed a list of music video credits that included Bob Dylan, Ashford and Simpson, Stevie Nicks, Hart, Bob Seger, Linda Rondstadt, the Pretenders, Stevie Wonder, Michael Jackson, Aaron Neville, Carlos Santana, Eddy Money, Pat Benatar, Chaka Khan, the Manhattan Transfer, and many others.
To date, Ackerman’s international commercial credits include Coca-Cola, Diet Coke, Chevrolet, Kodak, BMV, Sprite, Budweiser, Corona Beer, Michelob, McDonald’s, Toyota, Nestea, Fanta, Lipton’s Tea, Hertz, Yamaha, Pepsi, Revlon, Nike, Brooklyn Gum, Johnson & Johnson, Bose, Parmalat, Eastern Airlines, Aloha Airlines, Mountain Dew, Benson & Hedges, and Black & Decker Tools. He has also photographed special venue productions such as “Water,” the 65mm 3D attraction at Expo 84 in New Orleans as well as 2nd unit work on Disneyland’s 3D extravaganza, “Caption IO.”
But Ackerman is best known to movie audiences worldwide for his accomplishments as a cinematographer. His filmography lists titles such as “Jumanji” and Tim Burton’s classic “Beetlejuice,” as well as an earlier Burton short “Frankenweenie.” His credits also include “Roadhouse 66,” “Girls Just Want to Have Fun,” “Back to School,” “Dennis the Menace,” “Baby’s Day Out,” “True Identity,” “My Favorite Martian,” “Eighteenth Angel,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” “George of the Jungle,” “The Muse,” “Beautiful Joe,” “The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle,” “Rat Race,” “Snow Dogs,” “Dickie Roberts: Former Child Star,” and “The Battle of Shaker Heights.” Ackerman’s work has recently been seen in the boxoffice hit comedy “Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy,” starring Will Ferrell and Christina Applegate. His most recent credits are Revolution Studio’s hit comedy “Are We There Yet?” Starring Ice Cube and Albert Brooks’ “Looking for Comedy in the Muslim World.”
In a departure from feature films, Ackerman photographed “Cinemagique” for Disney Studios Paris. Directed by Jerry Rees, this innovative film, starring Martin Short and Julie Delpy, is the cornerstone of the new Disney “Parc II” which opened in March 2002. He also shot the award-winning feature documentary “Los Zafiros,” for director Lorenzo DeStefan. Set in Cuba, the film had its premiere at the 2002 Havana Film Festival.
In 1999, Ackerman took the helm as director/cameraman on “The Spirit of Evolution,” for Zenturio Group UK. The industry’s first 360 x 220 degree “Dome Format” production, it opened as the featured attraction of the Autostadt Grand Pavillion inaugurated in May 2000 by Volkswagen A.G. in Wolfsburg, Germany. Shot in the Czech Republic, Italy, and South Africa, the film represents a benchmark achievement in special venue exhibition technology.
Ackerman lives in Santa Barbara, California, with his wife Paula and two children Caitlin and Alex. He is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers, The Directors Guild of America and the Motion Picture Academy Arts and Sciences.