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Master of Light and Shadows

An SDSU alumnus took top prize from the American Society of Cinematographers.
A scene from
A scene from "The Bright Side"

Ryan Broomberg, ’10, has visions.

In his head, a virtual projector beams a succession of film scenes, each one meticulously composed and dazzlingly lit.

Cinematography is Broomberg’s lifelong infatuation. It’s all he’s ever really wanted to do, and he has the credentials to be one of the best.

In June, Broomberg won top prize in the American Society of Cinematographers Harris Savides Student Heritage Awards competition. Designed to showcase the artistic abilities of young filmmakers, the awards reflect the judgment of America’s best cinematographers—names like John Toll (“Braveheart”), Robert Richardson (“The Aviator,” “Hugo”) and Wally Pfister (“Inception,” “The Dark Knight”).

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Ryan Broomberg
True collaboration

Broomberg’s film, “The Bright Side,” was written and directed by Sarah Wilson-Thacker as her thesis project at Chapman College, where Broomberg earned a graduate degree after his undergraduate studies at San Diego State.

He considers “The Bright Side” a true collaboration with Wilson-Thacker because of his deep involvement in scouting and planning every scene.

In fact, Broomberg’s work ethic and copious experience behind the camera gave him a reputation at Chapman; three graduate students, including Wilson-Thacker, asked him to shoot their thesis films.

“I came to State realizing that I wanted to be a cinematographer, so I took on a lot of projects as an undergraduate,” Broomberg said. “It was great going to grad school with all that knowledge and experience from SDSU.”

Musical fantasy


“The Bright Side” is a glamorous, glitzy 1940-style musical that alternates between reality and fantasy as it spins the story of a young theatre performer who aspires to winning Hollywood stardom and the girl of his dreams.

The film was one of 135 submitted by colleges across the nation in three categories: graduate work, undergraduate work and documentaries. Selected ASC members screened the nominated films and voted for a winner and two or three honorable mention selections in each category.

“I was in shock,” Broomberg said, recalling the announcement of his win at a June 17 ASC ceremony. “This is such a great honor and a motivation to continue doing good work so that maybe one day I’ll be invited to become an ASC member.”

Master of light

Broomberg’s visual style is clean, precise and visually arresting, observed Greg Durbin, a professor of theatre, television and film who taught him at SDSU.

“Ryan’s has an innate talent with light. He plays with it, manipulates it to reveal subtle nuances,” Durbin said.

One of Broomberg’s many projects this year was short film for Durbin. He describes it as a dark comedy about a mother who trains her two young daughters to pickpocket from pensioners while performing at senior living facilities.

Future screenings

On Sept. 26, “The Bright Side” will screen at the Directors Guild of America theatre complex in Los Angeles as part of the Leo Freedman Foundation First Cut Screenings.

Other scheduled screenings include:

Oct. 4-6
Marina del Rey Film Festival
Oct. 9-13
Carmel Art and Film Festival
Oct. 17-20
Hollywood Film Festival
Nov. 7-14
Ojai Film Festival

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