‘I asked my guidance counselor, “Can you go to college for filmmaking?”’
Charles Foerschner, Massapequa
“I was a cameraman before I even knew it. I’d watch movies and be so moved and affected by them. For weeks I’d be acting like characters in them. I wanted to embrace the influence film had on me. I was always shooting stop motion with my G.I. Joe figures and making movies or TV shows with a small video camera.
“In high school, my friends would skateboard and surf. Instead of joining them, I’d show up with my camera. I did it because it was fun, not realizing it was art. I asked my guidance counselor, ‘Can you go to college for filmmaking?’ He recommended vocational high school, and later, Five Towns College. My professor, Sol Negrin, a big cinematographer, had connections in the IATSE Local 600. He helped push my career along, getting me an internship at Panavision. I met a bunch of camera people and eventually got my first job offer on ‘Law & Order: SVU.’
I’m so glad my obsession with film turned into something I could proudly make into a career.
“A lot has changed from when I started in the business 15 years ago. On set, sometimes you would have to fake it until you made it. If you couldn’t do it, they didn’t keep you. Now I have employees under me, and I constantly tell them there are no stupid questions. I want to create a department that is collaborative and respectful. I did seven seasons of ‘Elementary,’ which was an amazing place to grow and learn. I made such progress in my career on that show. Later, I worked on ‘The Gifted Man,’ and Jonathan Demme, who directed ‘Silence of the Lambs,’ directed the pilot! I did three years on ‘Power’ and ‘Power Book II: Ghost.’
“This all led to me working on ‘The Daily Show.’ I got a call that a long-running Comedy Central show was looking to staff some camera assistants to test new camera systems. They couldn’t tell us what show it was, but they said it was going to be a really good opportunity. Without even hearing that it was ‘The Daily Show,’ I knew I had to take it. Now it has been two years! I’m more confident and comfortable in my career at this point. I’ve learned that if I don’t know the answer to something, I’m going to ask for help or admit that I’m unfamiliar. That’s always met with positivity. I’m so glad my obsession with film turned into something I could proudly make into a career.”
Interviewed by Iris Wiener