GREAT CINEMATOGRAPHERS


#1: From the doc "Cinematographer Style"

#2: "The Heartbreak Kid" [1972]

 

   


OWEN ROIZMAN   ASC

 

Born: 22 September 1936, Brooklyn, New York, USA, as son of Sol Roizman, a newsreel ph for Fox Movietone News.

Education: Valley Stream Central High School; Gettysburg College, Pennsylvania [Physics & Math; BS in 1958].

Career: 'During the summers of my sophomore and junior years of college, I worked at Camera Equipment Company, a camera rental company in New York. I checked cameras out for rental and checked them in. I learned how to thread film. I learned about lenses, and how to put cameras together and take them apart. That experience helped me a lot when I became an assistant cameraman right out of college. […] I worked at first with my father, and then he spoke to a friend named Akos Farkas, a wonderful Hungarian cinematographer, who took me under his wing. I worked for Akos for a year as his assistant. […] Then, Gerald Hirschfeld, who was part owner of MPO Videotronics in New York and also a wonderful cinematographer, needed a new assistant cameraman. He asked me to try out with him at my father's request. My father was his operator at the time. Jerry liked my work and put me on staff. Sadly, my father passed away a couple of years later and Jerry made me his operator. I then started shooting commercials for MPO in 1968. Gordon Willis and I were assistant cameramen at the same time. Michael Chapman and Arthur Ornitz also occasionally worked there. […] I assisted for about three years, and then I operated for two years. The way I got into shooting was that Gerry Hirschfeld had occasional theatre tickets. If we were going late on a shoot, he would go to the theatre and ask me to stay and finish shooting his inserts, a.k.a tabletop shots. I started developing relationships with agency people and they started requesting me on jobs. Because of that I wasn't around enough to operate for Jerry full-time, and he finally said if you're not going to operate for me every day, there's no point in me having you here. I was going to leave MPO and find opportunities to shoot, but they put me under contract as a cinematographer. […] There was an art director named Paul Heller, who was going to produce a film called 'Stop' for Warner Bros. It had a $300,000 budget, which even in those days was low. Paul was looking for a cinematographer. He had a first-time director by the name of Bill Gunn, who was also the writer. Paul was looking at some equipment at General Camera, and Dick DiBona, who was part owner, asked him who was going to shoot his movie. He said he didn't have anybody yet, so Dick recommended me. I knew Paul because he was art director on some of the commercials I had shot. I had interviewed for one other film, but Gordon Willis got that job. I shot 'Stop' in Puerto Rico. It had kind of a glossy look like the commercials I was shooting. That film was never released.' [From an interview with Bob Fisher on the International Cinematographers Guild website.]

In 1976, he moved from New York to Los Angeles, and established his own tv commercial production company [Roizman & Associates] in 1983. He took a 6 year break from narrative films to produce, direct and ph hundreds of commercials. He returned to feature filmmaking in 1989.

Was president of the ASC [1997].

Became 'Kodak Cinematographer in Residence' at the School of Theater, Film and Television [UCLA] in 2003. His son Eric is a c.op.

Appearances/Interviewee: 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991], 'The Poughkeepsie Shuffle: Tracing "The French Connection"' [2000, Russell Leven], 'Making the Connection: The French Connection 30th Anniversary Special', 'Intimate Portrait: Linda Blair' [prod: Jane Shayne; ph: Don Jacobs, Steve Rice, a.o.; 60m] & 'Cinematographer Style' [2005, Jon Fauer; ph: J. Fauer, Jeff Laszlo, Brian Heller & David Morgan].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1971] for 'The French Connection'; 'Emmy' Award nom [1972/3] for "Singer Presents Liza with a 'Z'"; 'Oscar' AA nom [1973] for 'The Exorcist'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1976] for 'Network'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1983] for 'Tootsie'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1995] & ASC Award nom [1995] for 'Wyatt Earp'; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [1997]; Palm Springs IFF Career Achievement Award [2000]; Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [2001]; Honorary 'Oscar' AA [2017].



With actress Linda Blair - "The Exorcist"

 

The Exorcist' [1972] - Owen Roizman: 'The exorcism sequence did involve some very special problems. One of these stemmed from the fact that in the story anyone who walks into the child's room becomes extremely cold and develops a chill. The only way you can really show that kind of cold is to be able to see the breath of the characters – and the only way to see this breath is to actually have them in a very cold room. For this reason, the child's bedroom was duplicated and built inside a 'cocoon', which was refrigerated to about 20 degrees below zero. We tried it first at just below freezing [about 25 degrees] and you could see some breath, but it really wasn't enough and as soon as the lights were turned on the heat took care of the cold so quickly that we couldn't even make a take. We found out during the test period that this wouldn't work, so we went back to the drawing board. A system was developed that could refrigerate the room quickly to any temperature from zero to 20 below. The breath showed up fine at zero, but Friedkin wanted the actors to really feel the cold because he felt that would help their acting. […] The only way we could get the breath to show was to back-light it. This created a problem, because the light source we had to work with was always coming from right next to the bed and the two priests who were performing the exorcism were always facing the light. Had we back-lit the scene it would have looked like light coming from some phony source. The challenge was to get back-light on the breath while keeping everything else dark. This is simple to do if you're shooting a still photograph, because the person doesn't move. [...] But with the actors moving all the time, it got to be a bit difficult. It was always a matter of finding a place to hide the back-light and finding a way to keep it off the actors.' [From an interview in 'American Cinematographer', February 1974.]


 

 FILMS

1970

Stop [Bill Gunn] c; unreleased

 

[Right] with Roy Scheider - "The French Connection"

 

1970

The French Connection [William Friedkin] c

1971

The Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight [James Goldstone] c

1971

Play It Again, Sam/Aspirins for Three [Herbert Ross] c

1972

The Heartbreak Kid [Elaine May] c

1972

The Exorcist [William Friedkin] c (1979: 70bu); 123m; Iraq seq ph: Billy Williams; see above; see 1999

1973

The Taking of Pelham One Two Three [Joseph Sargent] p/c; 2uc: Jack Priestley

1974

The Stepford Wives [Bryan Forbes] c

1974

Three Days of the Condor [Sydney Pollack] p/c

1975

Independence [John Huston] p/c; short/28m; 2uc: Lloyd Ritter; for US National Parks Service

1976

The Return of a Man Called Horse [Irvin Kershner] p/c; addph: Ron Taylor & Jorge Stahl

 

With Faye Dunaway - "Network"

 

1976

Network [Sidney Lumet] c

1977

Straight Time/No Beast So Fierce [Ulu Grosbard] c; originally, Dustin Hoffman was directing the film, but he changed his mind after a few days of filming and hired Ulu Grosbard

1977

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band [Michael Schultz] p/c

1978

The Rose [Mark Rydell] c; co-add concert ph; ph: Vilmos Zsigmond

1978

The Electric Horseman [Sydney Pollack] p/c

1979

The Black Marble [Harold Becker] p/c

1980

True Confessions [Ulu Grosbard] c

1980

Absence of Malice [Sydney Pollack] c

1981

Taps [Harold Becker] c; 2uc: Zoli Vidor

1982

Tootsie [Sydney Pollack] p/c

1983

Vision Quest/Crazy for You [Harold Becker] c

1989

I Love You to Death [Lawrence Kasdan] c; addph: Stephen Burum

1989

Havana [Sydney Pollack] 35mm-70bu/c; 2uc: Richard Bowen; + small part

1990

The Addams Family [Barry Sonnenfeld] c; addph: Gale Tattersall; vfx ph: Jim Aupperle, Bill Pope, Bert Dunk & Christopher Nibley

1991

Grand Canyon [Lawrence Kasdan] p/c; vfx ph: Alex Funke

1993

Wyatt Earp [Lawrence Kasdan] p/c; 2uc: Richard Bowen; + small part

1994

French Kiss/Paris Match [Lawrence Kasdan] p/c

 

 

1999

The Exorcist: The Version You've Never Seen [William Friedkin] + added & digitally modified scenes (132m); see 1972 & photos above

 

 TELEVISION

1972

[Singer Presents] Liza with a 'Z' [Bob Fosse] variety special/60m; for NBC-tv

 

 FILMS AS CAMERA ASSISTANT

 

[Left] with actor Henry Fonda - "Fail-Safe"

 

1963

Fail-Safe [Sidney Lumet] 1st c.asst; ph: Gerald Hirschfeld