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Spot On: Mauro Fiore

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Mauro Fiore on the set of his current project, The A-Team. Photo courtesy of Mauro Fiore.

“This entire production was extraordinary, the most extraordinary experience of my career so far,” Mauro Fiore (B.A. ’87) told American Cinematographer’s Jay Holben, discussing his work on Avatar in the January 2010 issue.

As the director of photography on James Cameron’s $300-million-dollar blockbuster film, for which he has received an Oscar nomination, Fiore had to basically reinvent his approach to cinematography using Cameron’s newly developed Fusion 3-D camera system. “The challenge for me, and what really got me excited about the film,” Fiore continued, “was to use the tools to tell the story in the best way possible. It required a lot of experimentation and a reinterpretation of how I deal with composition and lighting.”

While Avatar pushed beyond the boundaries of modern filmmaking, Fiore is no stranger to innovative cinematography. Born in Calabria, Italy, and raised in the United States, he studied cinematography at Columbia College Chicago in the 1980s. When his classmate and friend Janusz Kaminski (B.A. ’87) became Steven Spielberg’s primary cinematographer, Fiore joined him in Los Angeles and began shooting film for major studio productions like The Rock (1995), Armageddon (1997), and Training Day (2001).

It was Fiore’s work as director of photography for Antoine Fuqua’s Tears of the Sun (2002) and Michael Bay’s The Island (2004) that caught Cameron’s attention. “Jim was apparently impressed with the way I’d treated … scenes in both films. I had a 30-minute interview with Jim, and we hit it off,” Fiore told Holben. It was, as they say, the start of a beautiful friendship.

As Avatar hurtles through the Hollywood awards season (it won the Golden Globe award for best motion picture on January 17) having eclipsed $1.3 billion dollars at the box office in less than a month, Fiore appears primed for a long and lasting career on the front lines of contemporary filmmaking.

—James Lower (M.F.A. ’09)

Mauro Fiore will speak at Columbia College Chicago on Tuesday, February 16, 2010 as part of the college's “Conversations In the Arts: Media Arts in the 21st” lecture series. Tickets may be reserved online on a first-come, first-served basis.

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Comments (3)

It is interesting that Fiore had not been mentioned in any of my cinematography classes when Avatar was brought up. Neither had Kaminski.


Wow! I knew someone that special had to have had something to do with Columbia ... one of many reasons why I must be in Columbia this fall.


We are so proud of Mauro and the fact that he is my cousin's grandson and born in the same town in Calabria as my dad. We wish him continued success!