Born in Hollywood, Los Angeles , Russ Thomas Alsobrook grew up in San Diego, California. Russ , ASC, has been the director of photography on the hit television series New Girl since 2011. His credits also include the movies Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Superbad and Reign Over Me, as well as episodes of the series Big Love, Undeclared and Freaks and Geeks.
Alsobrook is a member of the American Society of Cinematographers. He studied English literature and philosophy at Cal Western University in San Diego, and the on Diego State College. In addition, he attended the University of California in Santa Barbara.
He gained his first experience in the film industry by working as an assistant with nature films in the years 1969 to 1972. In the years up to 1979 he worked as a Cameraman in the production of industrial and advertising films. From 1979, he worked on various documentaries for television networks such as the Public Broadcasting Service with, but also to orders from private companies. Since 1990, he has also been active as a chef in the film and television business. When he was involved in television films and series in the 1990s, some movie comedies were added to the cinema in the 2000s.
On the KODAK OnFilm website, Mr. Alsobrook beautifully describes his perception on the art form of film:
“I’ve always been an observer, so it was natural for me to gravitate to cinematography. Shooting nature films and documentaries around the world taught me to think on my feet and find the essence of the story. cinematographers use light the way a novelist uses words to describe how sunshine on an autumn day paints the scene for his of her characters, Every cinematic technique creates an emotional response that influences how the audience embraces the story and characters, I believe has a certain magic that will never be replaced or duplicated. There is an alchemy that takes place far beyond the technical and artistic elements that conjure up a movie. Film is magical because it defies explanation. Perhaps this glorious 19th century technology endures because no other medium can tell stories that connect so directly to the human heart. This is the most amazing art form ever invented.
I had the pleasure of working with Russ T. Alsobrook on the set of the feature film “Status Update.” Mr. Alsobrook was always very focussed on how the end result of every shot turned out. His passion for film and artistic attention to detail was very apparent to me, as his demands on aesthetics fit the mood of each shot perfectly. Watching Russ Alsobrook on set was like watching a magician pull the greatest tricks. He made my imagination run wild as I observed the film be shot in such a fantastic manner.
As much as I enjoyed watching Russ create such magic on screen, I hope I get the pleasure of working with him in the near future. Not only does his work inspire me to great lengths, the path he took to get where he is today proves to me that anything is possible if you stay motivated, persistent, and confident.
Some of the films Russ has worked on that are popular are:
“Superbad,” “I Love You Man,” “Forgetting Sarah Marshal,””Mall Cop,” “The Dark Side of The Moon,” & “Role Models.”
Russ Alsobrook, ASC, discusses his approach to the drama Black or White, in which a grieving widower struggles to retain custody of his young granddaughter in the wake of his wife’s death. Alsobrook explains why the filmmakers made last-minute decisions to go digital and to shoot widescreen, how they made the most of the 2.40:1 frame, and how he used lighting to illuminate the story’s complicated emotional terrain.
RUSS ALSOBROOK ASC – “WE DON’T SHOOT COMEDIES, WE SHOOT MOVIES THAT HAPPEN TO BE FUNNY.”
It was from this adage that Alsobrook began his creative conversations with husband-and-wife writing team Melissa McCarthy (also the star) and Ben Falcone (also the director) of this summer’s whacky, yet heartfelt, road trip romp Tammy.
“Both Melissa and Ben were equally involved in all creative processes,” says Alsobrook, who reveals that they were able to come in under schedule and under budget. “Ben and Melissa are so savvy. They know exactly what they want, and because of their acting experience they know they have it, and they move on.”
Their first discussions centred on whether to shoot film or digital. While screening comparative clips at Fotokem, there was “an audible reaction in the room when the film clips were shown,” he explains. “They were predisposed to shoot film and we decided right then that film was going to be our medium.”
One of the reasons McCarthy and Falcone were interested in working with Alsobrook was because of the look he gave Superbad. They weren’t going for a typical comedy look that can often seem overly bright and plastic, but rather were searching for a realistic approach to tell their story, and Superbad had a dark, almost comedy noir treatment.