by Christopher Rosen, Gold Derby
Hollis Meminger has worked on some of the biggest television series of the last two decades, including “The Sopranos,” “Gossip Girl,” “Mad Men” and “Younger,” where he operated as a focus puller and later a camera operator under cinematographer John Thomas through the show’s run.
But heading into the final season of “Younger,” which like so many other productions was greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic, Thomas retired and came to Meminger with a request that he take over the director of photography responsibilities.
“It meant a number of things,” Meminger says during the Gold Derby Meet the BTL Experts: Cinematographers panel. “My first thought is that getting an opportunity to shoot as a cinematographer is every cameraperson’s dream. I didn’t even know that film and television was going to be a part of my life. I didn’t go to school for film and television and I kind of fell into it.”
But there was a deeper meaning to the opportunity as well.
“Being a cinematographer who happens to be Black in this business was a big deal, not only for me but for people who are coming behind me and also before me,” he says. “It took on more than being a cinematographer on a hit show. It was more like we’re here and how do we move this ball down the field and create opportunities for other people. I saw it more than just me shooting a TV show and going to shoot another TV show. It meant so much more to me than just that.”
Meminger founded Bridgebuilder Cinematic Arts in 2016 with an eye toward teaching high school students from marginalized communities that the entertainment industry is a viable career path. Becoming such a key member as a D.P on the “Younger” staff only helped buttress his work.
“Here’s one of the things I’ve sort of thought about quite a bit. When we talk about cinematographers, a lot of times we put a qualifier before it. So we’ll say a ‘Black cinematographer.’ Which to me sometimes, in certain situations, it will mean you shoot Black TV shows,” he says. “But if you’re a ‘cinematographer who happens to be Black’ or ‘happens to be from another country,’ then it puts you in a place with all the other cinematographers and it doesn’t separate you. Part of that is just having that language and just being able to speak to that.”
“People who don’t see you in positions don’t think those are attainable goals,” he adds. “That’s why being a cinematographer and getting an opportunity on a show like this has made it much more important to continue this work.”
Watch the exclusive video interview with Meminger above. The final season of “Younger” is currently streaming on Paramount+ and Hulu.