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Also Known As: Thomas E Stern, Thomas Stern Died:
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Acclaimed cinematographer Tom Stern began his feature film career as a gaffer and best boy on a string of well-regarded independent features, including Sam Fuller's "White Dog" (1982). The film brought him in contact with cinematographer Bruce Surtees, who hired him as gaffer and chief lighting technician on most of Eastwood's features from the early 1980s through the early 2000s. After striking out on his own for projects like "American Beauty" (1999), he re-teamed with Eastwood as cinematographer on such critical and box office hits as "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006), "The Changeling" (2008) and "Gran Torino" (2008). The level of artistry he brought to his craft, which was paid proper tribute by an Oscar nomination in 2008, made him among the finest directors of photography working in the industry.Born Thomas Evans Stern in Palo Alto, CA on Dec. 16, 1946, he was the son of an aeronautical engineer for United Airlines, who bestowed a fascination for all things mechanical on his son. The family relocated to France in 1960, where the teenaged Stern began experimenting with cameras and photography. The family returned to the United States in 1963, and Stern attended college...

Acclaimed cinematographer Tom Stern began his feature film career as a gaffer and best boy on a string of well-regarded independent features, including Sam Fuller's "White Dog" (1982). The film brought him in contact with cinematographer Bruce Surtees, who hired him as gaffer and chief lighting technician on most of Eastwood's features from the early 1980s through the early 2000s. After striking out on his own for projects like "American Beauty" (1999), he re-teamed with Eastwood as cinematographer on such critical and box office hits as "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006), "The Changeling" (2008) and "Gran Torino" (2008). The level of artistry he brought to his craft, which was paid proper tribute by an Oscar nomination in 2008, made him among the finest directors of photography working in the industry.

Born Thomas Evans Stern in Palo Alto, CA on Dec. 16, 1946, he was the son of an aeronautical engineer for United Airlines, who bestowed a fascination for all things mechanical on his son. The family relocated to France in 1960, where the teenaged Stern began experimenting with cameras and photography. The family returned to the United States in 1963, and Stern attended college at the newly opened St. John's in Santa Fe, NM, where he took advantage of the school's four year liberal arts program. During his sophomore year, he met a transfer student from the school's campus in Annapolis, MD who was interested in shooting a film, and asked Stern to photograph it. Having no prior knowledge of how to operate a film camera, Stern read the manual and completed his first job as a cinematographer.

The finished product helped Stern get into graduate school at Stanford University, where he concentrated in film studies. Stern amassed countless hours of experience shooting student movies, but decided that his chances for steady work might be stronger in lighting rather than directing or cinematography. His mechanical aptitude made him an ideal candidate for the job, and he was soon working as a gaffer on educational films and documentaries beginning in the early '70s. By the middle of the decade, he had graduated to Hollywood films; among his earliest credits as best boy and/or gaffer was the Joan Micklin Silver newspaper drama "Between the Lines" (1977).

He found the pace of the industry a bit too strong for his liking, so he returned to Palo Alto after the Silver film and began seeking alternatives to his current way of life. But a call for work in Los Angeles brought him back into the fold, and by the early '80s, he was working regularly for major and independent features in California. Among his credits during this period was the controversial Sam Fuller drama "White Dog" (1982), which marked his first partnering with Oscar nominee Bruce Surtees, Clint Eastwood's main cinematographer for much of the 1970s and 1980s. Stern's first job on an Eastwood film came with 1982's "Honkytonk Man," and he would continue to work as gaffer or chief lighting technician on most of the actor-director's films through 2000's "Space Cowboys."

In addition to his work with Surtees and Eastwood, Stern served as gaffer or chief lighting technician on films ranging from "The Goonies" (1985) for director Richard Donner to "French Kiss" (1995) and "American Beauty" (1999). He also collaborated frequently with the latter film's cinematographer, the legendary Conrad L. Hall, on numerous commercials. Stern's relationship with Hall was so strong, and the elder cinematographer's talent such an influence on him, that when Hall died in 2003, Stern left the industry for six months to grieve for his mentor. At the end of that year, Stern received a call from Eastwood to work on his latest film, the thriller "Blood Work," which launched his career as a director of photography.

Stern soon became Eastwood's cinematographer of choice for a spectacular series of features that earmarked the director's output in the 21st century. He was behind the camera for "Mystic River" (2003), "Million Dollar Baby" (2004), and Eastwood's meditations on bravery in World War II, "Flags of Our Fathers" (2006) - which earned him a Satellite Award - and "Letters from Iwo Jima" (2006). In addition to these films, he was director of photography on such successful movies as "The Exorcism of Emily Rose" (2005) and "Things We Lost in the Fire" (2007). The year 2008 proved to be one of his most successful to date - not only did he shoot Eastwood's "The Changeling" (2008) and "Gran Torino" (2008) - but the former picture brought him Academy Award and BAFTA nominations for Best Cinematography.

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