To kick off Alberta Arts Days, which run from September 30 to October 2, Highline is proud to be featuring each of this year’s Mayor’s Spotlight on the Arts award recipients. Each of the artists being recognized will be featured in a weekly blog leading up to the Spotlight on the Arts event on September 30th (see event details at the bottom of this blog).
Roger Vernon—Beyond Borders Award RecipientWritten by Chris Bartolomie of the Town of Canmore
A native of Alberta, Roger Vernon developed his love for life behind the camera at the age of 13 when his parents gave him a developing kit. Watching black and white images develop off the paper in his dark room (aka bedroom closet) fuelled his imagination. He went on to combine his love for the mountains with his desire to make images into a flourishing career as an internationally respected cinematographer.
As a student in The Banff Centre’s Visual Communications program, Roger was influenced by Bob Alexander who taught him to focus on the essence of the message behind the image. When he moved to Canmore in 1973 he was further influenced by Lawrence Grassi and Bruno Engler and their dedication to and knowledge of the mountains.
For over 37 years, Roger has applied his skills throughout the genres in motion picture photography. Educational films, documentaries, commercials, feature films and narrative are all part of his visual language. Among his areas of expertise he is internationally recognized for his mountain and adventure related subjects, which have taken him into the most remote corners of the globe. Released to acclaim in 2010, Roger’s photography contributed to “A Life Ascending,“ Stephen Grynbergs wonderfully sensitive portrait of mountain guide Reudi Beglinger and his family. Recently, he was also in Nepal and Bhutan working with The World Wildlife Fund and Leonardo DiCaprio to examine the condition of wild tiger populations.
Known as the go-to guy if the conditions for shooting are difficult and/or miserable, Roger has worked on everything from major Hollywood productions to commercials for the likes of IKEA, General Motors and Petro Canada to independent producers and organizations like the National Film Board, the BBC and CBC.
Although his passion lies in the documentary world, Roger has contributed to a number of feature length dramas, most notably Unforgiven, the 1992 western that was nominated for best cinematography and won four Academy awards including Best Picture. Other productions that include his work are: Legends of The Fall, The Edge, Alive, Paycheck, RV, New Moon, and The Vertical Limit to name but a few. He most recently photographed the second unit of Stephenie Meyers popular series, The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn.
Awards and Recognition
Through the years he has garnered numerous nominations for direction and cinematography. He is the recipient of a Gemini Award for cinematography and ten awards from the Alberta Motion Picture Industry Association. Additionally, he has been awarded the Golden Sheaf for cinematography from the Yorkton Film Festival, The Kodak Spectrum Award, recognition for Best Cameraman’s Work from the Moscow Festival of Mountaineering and Adventure Films and a Certificate of Merit from the British Guild of Television Cameramen.
In addition to his achievements as a cinematographer, Roger has earned admiration from his peers for his dedication to mentoring the next generation of filmmakers. He continues to be a contributing mentor to the Women in the Directors Chair Workshop held annually at The Banff Centre.
Among the high points of his career has been the recognition afforded him by the Summit of Excellence Award, which was presented to him by The Banff Mountain Film Festival in recognition of a significant contribution to mountain life in the Canadian Rockies.
Roger has had the good fortune to experience the world and some of its people through his lens. While he has traveled to China, Tibet, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Africa, Europe and New Zealand, he says that nowhere inspires him quite like the Canadian Rockies, which is why he continues to return to his home in Canmore.