2023 Volker Bahnemann NYU Award

Meet the finalists and recipients of the 13th annual Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography: Undergrad students Evan Miller, Irina Lazouski, and Matt Liang, and grad students Ajai Vishwanath, Jason Maselle, and Kaitlyn Busbee.

Jul. 25, 2023

New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts Maurice Kanbar Institute of Film & Television is proud to present the finalists and recipients of the 13th annual Volker Bahnemann Awards. This year's ceremony and celebration was held at ARRI Rental's facility in Long Island City, New York. We interviewed the winners, who expressed their gratitude for the recognition and shared their aspirations for the future.

Evan Miller

“Winning this award is a true honor! I have always been welcomed by the ARRI family with such support every time I come into the shop, whether it be to test new lenses and cameras, or to rent gear for projects. It feels as if all my hard work on set over the past four years of film school at NYU have been recognized and I could not be more grateful.

“After graduating I plan on shooting my good friend's debut feature film this summer, which will be small, but it’s the first true attempt for both of us, so I'm super excited to dive into it. In addition, I plan on traveling for some music videos and commercials and am looking to receive bids from a production company I often work with by the name of Bluestone Pictures.”

Irina Lazouski

“Winning the award was huge for me. I remember seeing former finalists and recipients starting sophomore year and wondering if I'd ever be able to catch up to them. I was a transfer into film from the photography department, and even though I had always known that I wanted to make moving pictures, I had never touched filmmaking as a medium before my transfer. The award felt like a sign of heading in the right direction, especially receiving it from ARRI.

“As of now I have two more NYU thesis films lined up in the next year, one of which is coming up in the next few weeks. I hope to continue to work in camera and find more work as a DP and 1st AC. Working on the camera team of any set has always felt so fulfilling; I'm so excited to see what's to come and I hope ARRI also continues to be in my future.”

Matt Liang

“I am deeply humbled and honored to have been selected for this prestigious award among other exceptionally talented individuals, especially considering that ARRI is one of the biggest camera companies in the film industry, if not the biggest. Winning this award not only serves as a testament to the commitment I have made to the craft of filmmaking, but also reaffirms to me that the hours I have invested in my work have not been in vain. This award will continue to motivate me to push the boundaries of my growth as a cinematographer and meet like-minded people along the way. While I have had the fortune to work with ARRI products over recent years, it was amazing to meet the brilliant minds behind this esteemed company. This fruitful experience was beyond educational, and I cannot wait to continue to learn from them.

“For the next couple of months, I will be working on a few narrative short films, and I’m hoping to land a few music video/commercial shoots. I am also currently in talks to shoot an indie feature in August. Overall, I am beyond excited to continue my journey as a cinematographer in this industry and to meet new people along this path.”

Ajai Vishwanath

“I am so thrilled to be nominated for the Volker Bahnemann Award and so grateful for all the time and care that my peers and professors have put into my education at NYU. To have come into the program having never touched a film camera and now be included in this list of DPs alongside Jason and Kaitlyn, as well as all the amazing DPs that have come through NYU's Grad Film program in the past, is a testament to the incredible teachers and classes I've had while I've been here.

“Beyond my own thesis film, over the next few months I will be producing a short film, DP'ing another, directing and DP'ing a music video, and gaffing an experimental short. I'm also writing a few longer-form projects and am excited for all that's still to come!”

Jason Maselle

“The nomination itself is such a prestigious honor. To be able to share this with my family, my classmates, my professors, and all the people who have shown me such incredible love and support is a dream come true. Cinema as an artform fundamentally changed with the work that Mr. Bahnemann and ARRI have done - to win this award that bears both their names would be a privilege on a scale that I don't think I can really comprehend. 

“I'll be directing my thesis short film this July back home in Johannesburg, South Africa. My DP William Douglas and I are experimenting with the ALEXA Mini and we're trying to be as brave as we possibly can. After that? I think I'll always be in constant pursuit of stories and experiences that feel so honest that they take your breath away.”

Kaitlyn Busbee

“Winning this award means a lot to me. I view it as a significant milestone towards my work and evolution as a filmmaker. I started making films with my two best friends when I was 14. We were lucky to gain access to a unique educational program in downtown Des Moines called Central Campus, earning college credit for eventual undergrad film degrees very early.

 “This award feels like both a recognition and actualization of my childhood passions, and their evolution as I’ve worked to leverage my interests and dreams into career opportunities. I’m grateful and humbled to receive this award, and to do so in such great company, with fellow filmmakers who I admire and am lucky to call collaborators through my MFA journey at NYU. The award is also exciting as it serves as a chance to connect with professionals at ARRI who have the tools and creative knowledge to bring compelling films to life in unique, exciting, and original ways.

 “I’m hot off the heels of a Tribeca premiere for a short film that I served as DP on called “In Passing,” created through an NYU collaboration class that merges graduate level actors, designers, cinematographers, and writer/directors. With that same fellow NYU collaborator, a few days ago we wrapped her NYU thesis short film that I shot with an ARRI ALEXA Mini and Zeiss Super Speeds. It's also important to me to continue work in the documentary film realm, focusing on social and environmental justice initiatives. Finding ways to use the camera as a megaphone for change, amplifying issues that need more attention and action, is a huge passion and purpose for my work as a DP and filmmaker.”

About the Volker Bahnemann Award:    

The Volker Bahnemann Award for Outstanding Cinematography was established in 2010 to honor Bahnemann’s 48 years at ARRI. It was conceived to inspire future generations of cinematographers and empower talented students to realize their artistic potential through production grants. Bahnemann served 32 years as CEO and President of ARRI Inc. and ARRI CSC, contributing to the development and refinement of many significant ARRI technologies, among them the ALEXA, ALEXA Mini, ARRIFLEX 35 III, ARRIFLEX 765, ARRIFLEX 435, and ARRIFLEX 235 cameras, as well as ARRI/Zeiss High Speed and Variable Prime lenses. Recipients are selected by the faculty based upon rigorous criteria and the leitmotif of Bahnemann’s legacy: excellence in cinematography.