At seven years old, Frankie DeMarco, ASC first became aware of lighting for the screen while watching a black-and-white episode of Bonanza. “The sconce lights in a saloon seemed to be casting their own shadow in a weird way,” he remembers. This same intrigue and fascination happened again years later when watching A Clockwork Orange, photographed by John Alcott, BSC. What he was responding to, he explains, was director Stanley Kubrick’s penchant for practical lighting. The natural lighting employed by Owen Roizman, ASC in The Exorcist and The French Connection also struck the would-be cinematographer. This style of lighting, he adds, became a lifelong influence.
In college, DeMarco studied modern languages with a focus in German and Italian, and while studying abroad in Florence, Italy, he had the serendipitous opportunity to work on a commercial. Immediately, he knew his future involved motion pictures. After graduating, DeMarco found work in what he calls the “tight-knit Baltimore/Washington film community” as a grip, electrician or AC on commercials, documentaries, music videos and films directed by John Waters.
DeMarco relocated to New York City to “learn from the best and move up the ladder in cinematography,” primarily serving as AC until becoming director of photography on commercials and documentaries and later features and television shows.
Since then, has photographed more than 15 features, including Rabbit Hole, A Good Marriage, My All-American and How to Talk to Girls at Parties (covered in AC June 2018). His television credits include the pilots for Shelter, The Jury, Secrets and Lies and Happyish as well as episodes of Mad Men, Sneaky Pete and Madoff.
For his work on Habit, Hedwig and the Angry Inch and All Is Lost, the cinematographer was nominated for Independent Spirit Awards in 1998, 2000 and 2013, respectively. He also earned a 1998 Telly Award for the “No More Schmutz” television commercial campaign for the New York Daily News.
DeMarco notes that he is “truly fortunate to be able to move freely among the genres of documentaries, features, TV shows, commercials, industrials, webisodes and music videos.” He adds that the desire to capture story, emotion, expression and meaning continue to dive his creative work.