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Of all the honors Bountiful resident and award-winning cinematographer T. C. Christensen has received, none might be more treasured than the one he received from Mrs. Baird's Tap Academy in 1957. Christensen laughs. "Oh yes, that one I am quite fond of." Christensen graduated at the "tap" of his class.
Christensen is well-known for his gift of catching light, action and the emotion of a movie-studio moment, a vital part of the filmmaking process that can make or break a movie.
After his exceptional cinematography on such films as "Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration," "The Work and the Glory" and "Legacy," one of Christensen's latest projects was to work as a director of photography on the film "Unaccompanied Minors," released by Warner Brothers.
Following Christensen's stint at Mrs. Baird's academy, he advanced in his early education all the way up to Central Davis Junior High, where he was elected runner-up for Mr. Valentine in 1967. From there, he went on to graduate at the local high school, attend BYU and then earn his film degree at the University of Utah.
Christensen has received more than 270 awards for his work in the film industry, a roster that includes a CLIO Award, the Frank Capra Award and the Washington National Film Festival's Gold Award.
"I first began to love film in junior high," Christensen says. "I never loved still photography, but I did love the camera my dad had and the making of home movies."
Filled with passion for this exacting art, Christensen says, "I love filling my years with projects that will last, and the work I am involved with is always so entertaining and different." That's what Christensen loves most: the entertainment and the variety found in being a cinematographer.
Christensen has been involved in every process of filmmaking, from pre-production development, production, post-production and distribution. He co-directed "Joseph Smith the Prophet of the Restoration," now showing at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. He has worked on 70mm projects, IMAX films and his first-ever IMAX 3-D film, entitled "Sea Monsters," for National Geographic.
"Every film has its advantages and disadvantages," he says. "Smaller-screen films are quicker to produce, but big-screen films have a larger impact."
IMAX films on Christensen's résumé include "Texas: The Big Picture" and "Lewis & Clark: Great Journey West." He also filmed "Olympic Glory," which explored the events surrounding the 1998 Olympics in Nagano, Japan.
Christensen is also known for one of his earlier projects, "The Bridge," a short story he adapted to the screen in 1978, about a father sacrificing his son to save the lives of others. This film is now set to become a full-length motion picture.
"There is power in the media," Christensen says. "I like being on the good side of the media."
For all his acclaim, Christensen has never strayed far from his home.
"Besides this being the place where I grew up and have lived in, the Davis County area is just a great place overall with a lot to offer."