ACS accreditation

ACS Accreditation is the highest honour that can be bestowed on an ACS member.

Membership Status

“I want to reinforce that if it is your intention to apply for Accreditation in the near future, you should check your membership status, as to apply for Accreditation it is required the applicant has at least eight years working as a professional cinematographer, including a minimum of at least the last three years as a Full (formerly Cinematographer) Member of the ACS and remained financial throughout.

I cannot emphasise strongly enough that members must monitor their own membership status yearly, and upgrade to Full Membership when ready to do so in order to be eligible to apply for Accreditation. 

If you are ready to upgrade to Full Membership please contact your State or Territory Treasurer, or if you believe you should have upgraded to Full (including previously Cinematographer) some time ago, again please contact your State or Territory Treasurer. There is no allowance for upgrading, you must serve the allocated membership time in your current category.


Ron Johanson OAM ACS
National President

Considering Applying?

If you have been winning several ACS Gold awards at the State/Territory and possibly National levels, then maybe you should consider submitting for Accreditation.

Accreditation assessments take place at our National HQ in the second half of each year. Submissions are accepted annually, through your local branch, between September 1st and September 30th. Submissions will not be accepted after September 30th.

How To Apply and Submit

As stated earlier, the applicant must be a Full Member (with a minimum 3 current continuous years as a financial ACS Full Member) and with a minimum of 8 years professional experience as a cinematographer. They should apply to the Accreditation Committee by first contacting their State or Territory Branch President for an Accreditation Application Form, and then submitting a comprehensive cross section of their work for assessment.

The ACS expects that the successful applicant will have also demonstrated a proven commitment to the ideals and goals of the Society, and been actively involved at branch level, during their time as a member. We ask for only the best of the best of their work for the panel’s consideration. If there is any doubt about a particular piece of work, then maybe it shouldn’t be entered.

Your Bio

We also ask applicants to provide a brief (300 to 400 word) history of their career as a cinematographer, outlining their body of work, career path and experiences.

An Accreditation Application fee of $275 (inc GST) is to be paid with an entrant’s submission. This fee covers a free second application (if submitted within 2 years), in case their first application proves unsuccessful.

To contact your State or Territory President to ask about applying, find the details using the Contact Us link below.

If necessary, Application Forms can also be sought from National President, Ron Johanson AM ACS via the email listed below.

Email the ACS President, Ron Johanson OAM ACS »


The Accreditation Panel may grant Accreditation to an ACS member whose overall standard is considered exceptional. The standard of cinematography needs to be of a consistently high standard, or is outstanding in a specialised field.

The Accreditation process begins at the Branch level where the work to be submitted is, where possible, screened to confirm all material has been shot by the applicant and general assistance and advice relating to the submission may be offered.

An Accredited President or Accredited Member of the Branch can discuss the submission with the applicant. It may be suggested the submission should be strengthened, changed or they maybe even suggest to wait for another year before submitting. Once deemed suitable, the submission is sent by the applicant’s Branch to National Headquarters for the next round of assessments that are normally held in conjunction with the National AGM in September.

Accreditation assessments are not a mystery. It is a process that involves a panel of ten ACS Accredited cinematographers, who work across as many genres as possible, gathered together to assess the work. The order of viewing the submissions is by a random draw so no favouritism, advantage or disadvantage can be implied. 

The submitted works of the applying cinematographers are screened and assessed before voting on each submission by secret ballot.

To gain Accreditation 80% of the panel must be in agreement. Over recent years we have averaged around a 60% positive Accreditation result and generally we receive around 15 to 18 submissions a year.

Each submission is viewed at length, given equal opportunity and is judged entirely on its merits. It is not a competition against the other submissions, each decision is by a secret ballot and no discussion is entered into, unless the result is a borderline vote of 70% and even then, minimal discussion is allowed or required.

We encourage applicants to enter only their strongest work. Work that they are MOST happy with. It is not about volume but it is about substance. The work submitted must demonstrate more than just professional competence. 

Please keep in mind that a news/current affairs cinematographer is not necessarily assessed the same way as a Features or a Commercial cinematographer, as their work style and environment is very different. It is however all about the way the applicant handles and photographs their material. 

Consideration is given to various criteria including the way the applicant composes, shoots, exposes, operates, lights, how they use available light to advantage and finally how the story is told and visually constructed. The work submitted needs to demonstrate more than just professional competence. Creativity, excellence and aesthetic innovation are some of the qualities sought by the Accreditation panellists.

It’s only natural that if you are unsuccessful it can feel very personal. That is certainly not the intent of the process. It is no sleight on the work presented, it’s simply that on this occasion the work was perceived as not being of a consistently high enough standard to achieve Accreditation.

I personally have received one of those dreaded letters that let you know you were unsuccessful, so I do understand how it feels. There have been other well known cinematographers who have too, but I must say quite a few have achieved Accreditation after resubmitting. 

You can rest assured, that every applicant is given the same unbiased assessment by the panel of their peers.

If you do not gain Accreditation initially, I urge you not to become disillusioned and to try again – once you believe you have shot work that is worth adding to your submission.

Our Accreditation application fee allows you to reapply once more for Accreditation within two years without having to pay another fee. Generally, we suggest you have a gap year before reapplying.

Responsibilities and Commitment of Accredited Members

If you are considering applying for Accreditation, please be aware that should you be successful and receive your letters, it comes with a certain degree of responsibility and commitment. The Society expects your involvement in things like Awards Judging, Accreditation Assessments, participating as a member of your Branch committee or being involved Nationally on the Executive or on a subcommittee.

The Society is only as good as its members, and by gaining your letters which is indeed a privilege and the highest honour the Society can bestow on you, does in turn mean the Society anticipates that you will be an ACTIVE contributor in order to continue the growth of the Society.

We ask you to seriously consider this before you apply for Accreditation.

I have absolute faith in our Accreditation assessment system and believe it serves us well.

Ron Johanson OAM ACS
National ACS President

Use of ACS letters

Only fully financial Accredited members of the ACS may use the letters ACS after their surname. The letters will be one space after the surname, in capitals, without full stops or spaces between the letters, e.g. David Lewis ACS

Should the Accredited member hold an OAM, etc. then this would precede the ACS letters, e.g. Ron Johanson OAM ACS

Or, if the Accredited member be also accredited in another country then the first accreditation received should appear first, e.g. Dean Semler AM ACS ASC

Just being a member does not allow a member to use the letters after their name but the ACS does allow financial members to acknowledge they are members of the society in their CV’s, etc. For example: Julie Citizen – I am a Full Member (or Active, or Student, etc.) of the Victorian branch of the ACS.

Email the ACS President, Ron Johanson OAM ACS »

Intending to apply for ACS Accreditation? READ THIS CHECKLIST BEFORE APPLYING

If you intend to apply for ACS Accreditation, please review the following CHECKLIST.

  1. I am a current financial member of the Australian Cinematographers Society. Members with fees in arrears may not apply.
  2. I have been a Full(including previously Cinematographer) member of the ACS continuously for at least the last 3 years and have been a professional cinematographer for a minimum of 8 years.
  3. I will contact my State Branch in sufficient time to obtain assessment of the suitability of my submission prior to the material being sent to the National ACS Accreditation Panel by the deadline.
  4. I will be able to submit all material within the specified dates for submission, currently being September 1 – September 30th and understand material will NOT be accepted after this date. My material is of high quality and will meet the media requirements.
  5. I will include all required documentation and signed forms with my submission.
  6. I will include payment with my submission.
  7. I am aware that should I get my letters, the Society will be calling on me and will expect my involvement in things like Awards judging, Accreditation assessments, maybe being on my Branch committee or being involved Nationally on the Executive or on a sub committee. I understand that gaining my letters is indeed a privilege and the highest honour the Society can bestow on me but in turn I know the Society expects and indeed needs my involvement. 

If you don’t believe you can commit to helping the Society in some of these ways then maybe you shouldn’t be applying for Accreditation!