With an eye for capturing the exquisite in ordinary moments, in both real and imagined worlds, Director/DP, Arlene Nelson has worked with major studios, networks, brands and agencies around the globe. Whether directing commercial campaigns or documentary features, Arlene’s work reflects a naturalistic, organic quality, conveying passion, beauty, even at times, the absurdity of the human experience.
Arlene made her directorial debut for HBO with the award-winning trilogy, NAKED STATES, and the sequel NAKED WORLD. They are among HBO’s top 10 highest rated documentaries ever. Naked States chronicles artist Spencer Tunick, as he coaxes people of all shapes and sizes out of their clothes and into the streets; whether as acts of defiance or a personal reclamation of their bodies. It was awarded the Discovery Award for Best Documentary at the AFI Film Festival. The Chicago Tribune described the film as “fluent, clever, perfectly capturing the anarchic spirit that motivated Tunick and the eerily confronting quality of his work.” Hollywood Reporter called the sequel, Naked World, “visually and philosophically revealing…gorgeously photographed…vividly realized.” POSITIVELY NAKED completes the trilogy and was awarded the HUGO Award for Excellence in Television for the Arts/Humanities Film category.
Arlene’s cinematography has led to collaborations with iconic directors. Christopher Guest, Cesar winner, Agnes Varda, and Academy Award winners Louie Psihoyos, Paola Di Florio and Morgan Neville are among the visionary directors that share a passion and singular vision with whom Arlene has collaborated. She has received numerous awards for her cinematography, including an Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Cinematography for her work on Morgan Neville’s, Troubadours, a documentary on the singer-songwriter tradition, featuring Carole King and James Taylor. She was the first female cinematographer to shoot a narrative feature film, ‘A Mighty Wind’, for Warner Brothers/ Castlerock.
She has guest lectured at USC, UCLA, SFSU; served on film juries and panels, and is a mentor and International Advisory Board member for Global Girl Media, dedicated to empowering High School age girls around the world to create and share their stories through digital journalism.
Arlene holds degrees in Philosophy and Fine Art Photography. An intrepid traveler, Nelson’s work has taken her to every continent across the globe from traversing the Himalayas in India, navigating the wetlands in Brazil to camping on the Antarctic Peninsula. When she is not working, she can be found sailing or playing ping-pong with her husband and daughter where they live in Los Angeles.