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Caleb Deschanel
Caleb Deschanel, 2009 in San Diego
Joseph Caleb Deschanel

(1944-09-21) September 21, 1944 (age 79)[1]
Alma mater
Occupation(s)Cinematographer, film director
Years active1969–present
(m. 1972)
Deschanel on the set of The Spiderwick Chronicles, April 2007

Joseph Caleb Deschanel, ASC (born September 21, 1944)[1] is an American cinematographer and director of film and television.[1] He has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Cinematography six times.[2] He is a member of the National Film Preservation Board of the Library of Congress, representing the American Society of Cinematographers.[3] He has been married to actress Mary Jo Deschanel since 1972, with whom he has two daughters, actresses Emily and Zooey Deschanel.

Early life and professional education

Deschanel was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of Ann Ward (née Orr) and Paul Jules Deschanel. His father was French, from Oullins, Rhône, and his mother was American.[4] Deschanel was raised in his mother's Quaker religion.[5]

He enrolled[when?] in Severn School for his high school. He attended Johns Hopkins University from 1962 to 1966, where he met Walter Murch, with whom he staged "happenings," including one in which Murch sat down and ate an apple for an audience.[citation needed] Murch graduated a year ahead of him and encouraged Deschanel to follow him to the University of Southern California School of Cinematic Arts, where he graduated in 1968. During this time, Deschanel was a member of a band of film students called "The Dirty Dozen;" this group attracted attention from the Hollywood system. Following his graduation, he attended the American Film Institute (AFI) Conservatory and graduated in 1969 as a member of its first class.[6]

Personal life

Deschanel joined the American Society of Cinematographers (A.S.C.) in 1969, the year of his graduation from the AFI Conservatory. In 1972, three years later, he married actress Mary Jo Weir.[7] They have two daughters, actresses Emily and Zooey.


As director


Music video


Year Title Episode(s)
1990-91 Twin Peaks "Realization Time"
"Drive with a Dead Girl"
"The Black Widow"
2005 Law & Order: Trial by Jury "41 Shots"
"Bang & Blame"
2006 Conviction "Savasana"
2007 Bones "The Glowing Bones in the Old Stone House"

As cinematographer

Year Title Director Notes
1979 Being There Hal Ashby
More American Graffiti Bill L. Norton
The Black Stallion Carroll Ballard
1982 Let's Spend the Night Together Hal Ashby
1983 The Right Stuff Philip Kaufman
1984 The Natural Barry Levinson
1985 The Slugger's Wife Hal Ashby
1994 It Could Happen to You Andrew Bergman
1996 Fly Away Home Carroll Ballard
1998 Hope Floats Forest Whitaker
1999 Anna and the King Andy Tennant
Message in a Bottle Luis Mandoki
2000 The Patriot Roland Emmerich
2003 The Hunted William Friedkin
Timeline Richard Donner
2004 National Treasure Jon Turteltaub
The Passion of the Christ Mel Gibson
2006 Ask the Dust Robert Towne
2008 Killshot John Madden
The Spiderwick Chronicles Mark Waters
2009 My Sister's Keeper Nick Cassavetes
2011 Dream House Jim Sheridan
Killer Joe William Friedkin
2012 Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter Timur Bekmambetov
Jack Reacher Christopher McQuarrie
2014 Winter's Tale Akiva Goldsman
2016 Rules Don't Apply Warren Beatty
2017 Unforgettable Denise Di Novi
2018 Never Look Away Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck
2019 The Lion King Jon Favreau
2025 Wildwood Travis Knight
Additional photography credits
Year Title Director Cinematographer Notes
1971 Angels Hard as They Come Joe Viola Stephen M. Katz
THX 1138 George Lucas David Myers
Albert Kihn
1972 The Godfather Francis Ford Coppola Gordon Willis Newspaper sequence
1974 A Woman Under the Influence John Cassavetes Mitch Breit
Al Ruban
1979 Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola Vittorio Storaro Insert photography
1983 The Black Stallion Returns Robert Dalva Carlo Di Palma
1997 Titanic James Cameron Russell Carpenter Halifax contemporary shoot
2013 Gangster Squad Ruben Fleischer Dion Beebe
2019 Ad Astra James Gray Hoyte van Hoytema

Awards and nominations

Academy Awards

Year Title Category Result
1983 The Right Stuff Best Cinematography Nominated
1984 The Natural Nominated
1996 Fly Away Home Nominated
2000 The Patriot Nominated
2004 The Passion of the Christ Nominated
2018 Never Look Away Nominated

BAFTA Awards

Year Title Category Result
1979 The Black Stallion Best Cinematography Nominated

American Society of Cinematographers

Year Title Category Result
1996 Fly Away Home Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography Nominated
2000 The Patriot Won
2004 The Passion of the Christ Nominated

National Society of Film Critics

Year Title Category Result
1979 Being There Best Cinematography Won
The Black Stallion Won

Satellite Awards

Year Title Category Result
1999 Anna and the King Best Cinematography Nominated


  1. ^ a b c "Caleb Deschanel". Internet Encyclopedia of Cinematographers. Retrieved June 26, 2018.
  2. ^ "Caleb Deschanel". Oscars Awards Databases. Retrieved December 14, 2015.
  3. ^ "National Film Preservation Board Members". Library of Congress.
  4. ^ Powell, Kimberly (November 1, 2011). "Ancestry of Emily and Zooey Deschanel". ThoughtCo. Archived from the original on May 15, 2013. Retrieved October 6, 2012.
  5. ^ Olsen, Mark (February 27, 2005). "A passion to convey a director's vision". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved October 14, 2010.
  6. ^ King, Susan (September 18, 2019). "At 50, the AFI Conservatory keeps its focus on developing great filmmakers". Los Angeles Times.
  7. ^ "American Film". American Film. Vol. 9, no. 1–10. American Film Institute (AFI). 1983. p. 10. ISSN 0361-4751.