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Cinematography / Editing

April / May / June 2012





HASKELL WEXLER, ASC

"WHO NEEDS SLEEP?" (2006)
(Inst. Cinema Studies)
Dir. - Haskell Wexler
Pro. - Tamara Maloney
Music - Greg Landau
Total Running Time: 78 mins.










     Amazingly, there are to this day many who believe everyone working within the film business are mansion-owning superstars like those of the old "Lifestyles Of The Rich And Famous" and "MTV Cribs" television series.  Sorry to burst those bubbles, but the truth is quite other.  While there is such a tiny percentile, the vast majority (even card carrying SAG actors) are hard working blue collar sorts - electricians, makeup artists, set builders, effects technicians, designers and the like; raising families, paying mortgages and auto insurance, and working hellishly long hard hours to do so.  To think everyone within the Industry lives like (what's that new show?...) "The Shah's Of Sunset"  is as foolish as believing EVERYone in the computer business enjoys the lifestyle of Bill Gates.  Which brings us to Haskell Wexler: once referred to as "the people's cinematographer" because of his grass roots dedication to the common man.   



   Wexler on MEDIUM COOL (1969)
     While one of the most respected directors of photography in the history of the medium (among his many credits -  IN THE HEAT OF THE NIGHT, MEDIUM COOL, the original THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR,  ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO'S NEST, COMING HOME, MATEWAN, BLAZE, THE SECRET OF ROAN INISH, and two Academy Awards for WHO'S AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF? and BOUND FOR GLORY), Wexler is also a groundbreaking concert filmographer (RICHARD PRYOR LIVE ON THE SUNSET STRIP,  BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN: THE COMPLETE VIDEO ANTHOLOGY 1978 - 2000, SANDRA BERNHARD: I'M STILL HERE ... DAMN IT!) and fierce documentarian, his Oscar winning lens turned "David & Goliath"-like on corporate greed, government malfeasance, LA gang culture, and the military industrial machine in films such as NO NUKES, WAR WITHOUT WINNERS and BASTARDS OF THE PARTY. 


 

                                                                                                                           With Hal Ashby: BOUND FOR GLORY ('76)
                                                                                    
     Never one to shy away from his 1960s activists roots, Wexler would turn his piercing documentary lens on his own film industry with 2006's WHO NEEDS SLEEP?.   Increasingly troubled by the almost sweatshop-like hours industry employees were becoming forced to work (the average on set work day in the 1970s approx. eight hours; while in the 2000s fourteen would become the norm ... often even stretching into 20), his discontent, and that of many, would explode into action after the death of cameraman Brent Herschmann, who deprived of sleep after a 19 hr. shift on the film PLEASANTVILLE, was killed behind the wheel while attempting to make it home late one night to be with his children.   





   With George Lucas on AMERICAN GRAFFITTI (1973)

     WHO NEEDS SLEEP? includes interview appearances by fellow cinematographer / directors Roy Wagner (DROP ZONE), John Lindley (FIELD OF DREAMS), Andrew Davis (THE FUGITIVE), Roger Deakins (THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION), Caleb Deschanel (THE NATURAL), Richard Donner (LETHAL WEAPON) and more; as well as commentary by actors Richard Masur, Tyne Daly, Billy Crystal, and Julia Roberts - who'd use her star clout to force production companies into providing better conditions for crew members on her films.  Going beyond the specific confines of the movie industry, Wexler's film shines a disturbing light on competitive modern day western work culture / ethics, and asks "When does the drive to be #1 eventually become counterproductive"?


                                          
                                                                                                                                                           CEJ - April 2012




"Who Needs Sleep" (Pt. 1)


Pt. 2
                                                    Pt. 3
 


Pt. 4                                                                                                        Pt. 5
 


Pt. 6




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SEPTEMBER / OCTOBER 2011

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CINEMATOGRAPHER
MICHAEL SLOVIS ASC


     Doing the reverse of many cinematographers,  MICHAEL SLOVIS ASC began his career with features like the cult hit PARTY GIRL (1995) and the action smash HALF PAST DEAD (2002) before segueing into television, where on series such as CSI: CRIME SCENE INVESTIGATION,  ED,  FRINGE and RUBICON, he established himself as one of the most innovative (and in demand) DPs in the business.


     When approached by AMC to shoot their successful series BREAKING BAD beginning with Season 2, Slovis leapt at the opportunity.  A quirky dark drama about a high school chemistry teacher (Bryan Cranston) who, upon discovery he has cancer, embarks on a career as a "meth" manufacturer / dealer to set up a "nest egg" for his family upon his death, BAD offered Slovis a cornucopia of visual opportunities ranging from humor to near-horror.  SHOOTING ON FILM! (a rarity in TV production today) he'd follow the visual paradigm laid down during Season 1 by John Toll (LEGENDS OF THE FALL, BRAVEHEART) and Reynaldo Villalobos (RISKY BUSINESS, A BRONX TALE), but infuse the show's dark proceedings with his own aesthetic inspired by the producers' desire to "capture" the gritty feel of hand-held 1970s-era films like THE FRENCH CONNECTION.  Having already garnered an Emmy nomination as well as a win for CSI (for Outstanding Cinematography in a Single-Camera Series) he'd receive two more nominations for BREAKING BAD in 2009 and 2010. 

     We've broken Slovis' 50 minute 2011 interview with American Cinematographer Magazine's IAIN STASUKEVICH into nine easily accessible audio chapters.   In the first six Slovis discusses the tech aspects of shooting BREAKING BAD; then in the final three delves into the equally important non-technical art of collaboration, having since become director on the popular series as well as it's primary DP.        


           1) Intro - Visual Approach
(4:40)
               

                            2) Picking up in Season Two
(4:57)
                                



MICHAEL SLOVIS ASC filmography:

Running Wilde
(TV series)
– One Step Forward (2010)
– Best Man (2010)
– The Junior Affair (2010)
– Into the Wilde (2010)


2010 Rubicon (TV series)
– Keep the Ends Out (2010) (director of photography)
– The First Day of School (2010) (director of photography)

 
2009-2010 Breaking Bad (TV series)
   (including …)
– No Mas (2010)
– ABQ (2009)    
– Phoenix (2009)
– Mandala (2009)
– Over (2009)





      
3) Economics of The Shoot
(5:21)
                  

               
                             4) "Shout Out" to the 1960s/70s-era Cinematic Approach (4:24)
                                                            

  
2009 Royal Pains (TV series)
– TB or Not TB (2009)
– Strategic Planning (2009)
– There Will Be Food (2009) (director of photography)

2009 Fringe (TV series)
– There's More Than One of Everything (2009) (director of photography)
– Midnight (2009) (director of photography)
– Unleashed (2009) (director of photography)
– Ability (2009) (director of photography)







                               
5) TV Aesthetic - Technical and Thematic (6:08)
                                       

                 
                             
6) Desert Photography Specs (5:59)
                                 

                                       
7) From Cinematographer to Director (5:44)
                                           




2009 Castle (TV series)
– Flowers for Your Grave (2009) (director of photography)
 
2009 Exit 19 (TV movie)

2008 New Amsterdam (TV series)
   (including …)
– Love Hurts (2008) (director of photography)
– Reclassified (2008) (director of photography)
– Legacy (2008) (director of photography)
– Keep the Change (2008) (director of photography)
– Honor (2008) (director of photography)  
 


                                             
8) Crew Family; Guest Directors (6:20)
                                               


                                                       9) Future Paradigm - Strictly Organic (6:12)
                                                          




2005-2007 CSI: Crime Scene Investigation (TV series)
   (including …)
– Living Doll (2007) (director of photography)
– Leapin' Lizards (2007) (director of photography)
– Lab Rats (2007)
– Monster in the Box (2007) (director of photography)
– Meet Market (2007) (director of photography)
 
2005 The Marksman (video)
2003 The Foreigner
2002 Half Past Dead
2000 Ed (TV series)
2000 Ready to Run (TV movie)






1999 The 4th Floor
1999 Michael Landon, the Father I Knew (TV movie)
1999 The Thirteenth Year (TV movie)
1998 The White Raven
1998 Halloweentown (TV movie)
1998 Charlie Hoboken (as Mike Slovis)
1998 Scar City
1997 Out of Nowhere (TV movie)
1997 Breaking the Surface: The Greg Louganis Story (TV movie)
1997 Crash Dive (video)
1997 Seduction in a Small Town (TV movie)
1996 Vibrations (video)
1996 Angel Flight Down (TV movie)
1996 Malicious 
1995 Breach of Trust
1995 Party Girl





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