Last weekend on Sunday, October 16th, veteran television cameraman, Jan Kasoff spoke at C.W. Post’s Hillwood Cinema about his 26-year career at Saturday Night Live. Presented on behalf of the Long Island Radio & TV Historical Society, and WCWP Radio, the two-hour presentation was a special insight into the life of a man who was behind the scenes on one of television’s most popular shows. Next to the stage where he spoke, was a display table filled with photographs of Jan’s long career, and an actual Emmy Award that Jan won for his camera work.
The presentation started with an anecdote about the inception of Saturday Night Live, in which the show’s creator Lorne Michaels pleaded with network executives at NBC to give his live show a chance. When NBC finally agreed to air the show, their studios in L.A. were unavailable, so it was decided that the show would be done in Studio 8H at New York City’s 30 Rockefeller Plaza.
Jan showed two video clips, in which the screen was separated into seven sections showing the various perspectives of each cameraman, and of the directors in the control room. Also shown was a view of what was appearing on live television. Throughout
the duration of the clips, audio cues given by directors coordinate cuts from camera to camera, essentially editing the program in real time as the events unfold. One clip in particular highlighted Christopher Walken, in a skit known as the Continental, where the actor interacts directly with the camera. Known as a subjective camera, this filming technique makes the camera appear as if it was another actor.
Jan also reminisced about how the camera crew and the cast of SNL all socialized together in the commissary in 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and being fed by NBC at all hours to keep the show’s employees close by incase they were needed. One time he even taped
an impromptu performance by Paul McCartney and the cast as they performed Beatles songs for two hours.
Jan has also done work covering the Olympic games, the Watergate Hearings; Meet the Press, NBC Nightly News, Major League Baseball, the Nation Football League, MSNBC, soap operas, game shows, and TV specials. (Online Source) (www.towson. edu/emf/docs/kasoffBio.pdf)
Jan is the recipient of six Primetime Emmy Awards for Saturday Night Live as well as two Emmy’s for his camera work at the Olympics.