It is with great sadness that we share the news that Dan Kneece passed away unexpectedly earlier this month at the relatively young age of 64. Although it has not been confirmed, Dan had recently undergone a medical procedure to add a coronary stent, so it is assumed the cause of his passing was heart related.
Dan Kneece grew up in South Carolina where he earned Bachelor and Master of Media Arts degrees from the University of South Carolina. He began work as a professional Camera Operator in Columbia, South Carolina at WIS-TV in 1979. In 1982, Dan was taught Steadicam operation by the inventor, Garrett Brown, after which he assisted in teaching Steadicam for Cinema Products. From 1990 to 1994, Dan was their lead factory Steadicam Instructor where he taught many top operators in the business today.
Soon after he relocated to the L.A. area he operated Steadicam on his first feature film that happened to be shot by Cinematographer and Founder of DCS, James Mathers. The two became fast friends and it was also the start of a many decades long working relationship before Dan retired from operating to concentrate on work as a Director of Photography.
Dan’s many notable credits as a Steadicam Operator included films such as Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart and Mulholland Drive, for Director David Lynch, Jackie Brown for Robert Rodriguez, The Patriot, Bruce Almighty, and The Number 23, among many many more. Dan’s Cinematography credits included shooting such feature projects as Southern Belles, Plastic Jesus, The Confession and Courting Chaos.
Dan was very active in the Digital Cinema Society and was the main presenter at our first tech event, “Steadicam for Digital,” (as pictured above,) which at the time was a hot topic since most experienced camera operators in cinema had only worked with film cameras. Meanwhile, Dan had been working to demo one of the most popular digital cinema camera systems of the day, the Thomson Viper. In 2002 Kneece co-founded the Steadicam Guild and later served as president of the Society of Camera Operators (SOC) in 2007.