There has been a camera in Jonathan's hands since the age of four, when his father, a musician, settled the family in Southern California while on the road with a "Big Band" from Boston.
Frequent drives past Warner Bros. Studio's back lot would stir his curiosity about what was just "over the wall" and planted the seeds for later.
It wasn't until the end of high school that he discovered the theatre. Changing his major from math/science to theatre arts, he performed in a number of college productions, studied lighting for the stage as well as taking courses in the newly formed Cinema Department. He landed a job at Universal Studios as a tour guide, and later trained guides. He spent many off hours observing production there ... still looking to the day when he too would be working in "the Biz."
Those were the Viet Nam years and Jonathan enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. His background helped him qualify to become a motion picture camera trainee. He learned, and was promoted quickly. As a documentary cameraman he earned the opportunity to shoot, edit, narrate and direct many projects throughout his four year tour. During that time he continued his involvement with local theatre as an actor and lighting designer.
The war drew to a close and upon his discharge he thought about continuing the acting career. But there were other goals. He had become a promising filmmaker. He freelanced as a Director/Cameraman/Film Editor of client-sponsored film projects. It was a time when there was no non-union production of any consequence. If you wanted to work on good theatrical or TV productions, you had to be in the union.
A year later, he was accepted into membership of Local 659 as an Assistant Cameraman. In a little over three years, he was promoted to Camera Operator while working for MTM Enterprises. He continued for 7-1/2 years in that classification working with some wonderful Directors of Photography. The feature and television credits grew, as did his knowledge and reputation for visual sensitivity, a smooth touch with the camera and thoughtful communication. Much of his free time was spent shooting small projects with first time directors, returning to art study, observing the properties of light in varying environments — readying himself for the next phase.
The Touchstone (Disney) organization promoted him to Director of Photography in February 1985 and he hasn't stopped since. He has gathered a talented crew who are intelligent, well mannered and enjoy working together
Jonathan worked several years at Paramount Pictures as the cinematographer (and a director) on the hit series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and previously, Star Trek: The Next Generation." He has photographed such visually diverse projects as "Finish Line" (TNT), "Tales from the Hollywood Hills" (PBS), "Private Eye" (NBC), "HeartBeat" (ABC pilot & series), "Doogie Howser M.D." (ABC pilot), "Eerie Indiana" (NBC), "Island Son"(CBS), "WIOU" (CBS), "A Sinful Life" (New Line Cinema) and even a Roger Corman feature, "Munchies." Combined with his camera operator experience, he's worked on 12 features, 35 TV movies and 15 series.
Jonathan was nominated for an Emmy in 1991 for Best Cinematography for Columbia Pictures' TV movie "The Whereabouts of Jenny"and again in 1997 for his work on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
In 1996, he was invited into the prestigious, American Society of Cinematographers. He served on the Executive Board of International Photographers Guild, Local 659 for five years and is now on the Executive Board of the newly formed International Cinematographers Guild, Local 600.
In the spring of 1998, Jonathan formed "American Independent Media, Inc." and has just completed production of his first feature film project as Exec Producer/Director, "What's Eating You?." According to Jonathan, the flim "is a contemporary woman's comedy with a dark side." More information with stories and photos are available on the following web site, www.AmIndie.com.
In October of 1998, Jonathan was "loaned out" to Paramount Parks Division and Viacom licensing to direct the filmed segments for the Star Trek: World Tour, which opened in Germany in December '98. For this project, West was reunited with Next Generation cast members John de Lancie and Jonathan Frakes.
Jonathan resides in Toluca Lake.