From interview [2009]

2005

               

 VILMOS ZSIGMOND   ASC

Born: 16 June 1930, Szeged, Hungary.

Education: Szinház- és Filmmüvészeti Föiskola [SzFF], Budapest [Cinematography, 1951-55; his teachers were György Illés, János Badal, a.o.].

Career: 'Vilmos Zsigmond was in his early teens when the Russian army installed a puppet government in Hungary answerable to the communist regime in Moscow. He wasn't allowed to continue his education or pursue an interest in becoming a photographer because his family was considered bourgeois. Zsigmond was put to work in a factory, where he saved money to buy a camera and taught himself how to take pictures. He organized a camera club for factory workers. That impressed the commissars who sent him to the Academy of Theatre and Film Art in Budapest to learn cinematography. Zsigmond completed his formal education in 1955, and was working as an apprentice at the state film studio in October 1956, when a popular uprising spilled into the streets of Budapest.' [From the ASC website.] Zsigmond and his film school classmate László Kovács took an Arriflex camera from their school and filmed the battle between the Budapest citizens and the Russian troops and tanks. In November 1956 they fled to Austria where the film was processed and sold to a producer [the film was shown on CBS-tv in 1961]. He [and Kovács] arrived in the USA in March 1957 as a political refugee. He spent time in a refugee camp in New Jersey, and worked briefly in Chicago, before moving to Los Angeles hoping to find a job in the film industry. Worked as laboratory technician and as still photographer [for 5 years] on educational films. Owned his own 16mm Arriflex camera modified for Techniscope. Made a short film on modern dance, 'Lullaby', which gained him entrance in the unions.

Ph and dir commercials. Also active as director.

Was one of the 'masters' at the 'International Masterclass [1999 & 2001], Budapest.

Active member of the ASC since 1973, honorary member of the HSC and associate member of the SOC.

Appearances/interviewee: 'Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography' [1991], 'Big Guns Talk: The Story of the Western' [1997, Len Morris; ph: Alicia Weber], 'Wiecej swiatla. Festiwal Operatorów Filmowych Camerimage '97' [1997, Piotr Lazarkiewicz; ph: Adam Sikora; 54m], 'The Making of 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'' [1998, Laurent Bouzereau], 'Ljuset håller mig sällskap/Light Keeps Me Company' [2000, Carl-Gustav Nykvist], 'Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Sex, Drugs and Rock 'N' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood' [2002, Kenneth Bowser; ph: Paul Mailman; 119m], 'Elszállnak a felhők... - Zsigmond Vilmos hazatérései/The Clouds Are Drifting Away... - Vilmos Zsigmond's Frequenting Home' [2006, Béla Paczolay & István Dala; ph: Zsolt Tóth, I. Dala & Sándor Várkonyi; tv-doc/28m; ep series 'Szerelmes földrajz'] & 'No Subtitles Necessary: Laszlo & Vilmos' [2007, James Chressanthis; ph: Anka Malatynska; 105m].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA [1977] for 'Close Encounters of the Third Kind'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1978] & BAFTA Film Award [1979] for 'The Deer Hunter'; Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award [1997]; ASC Lifetime Achievement Award [1999]; 'Corvin Chain' [2001; given by the Hungarian Government]; 'Emmy' Award nom [2002] for 'The Mists of Avalon' [Part 1]; HSC 'A Legenda' Award [2005]; ICFF Manaki Brothers Life Achievement Award 'Golden Camera 300' [2010].



 FILMS

1953

A föld/The Land [József Zsuffa] b&w; short/10m; prod SzFF

1954

Elszállnak a felhök/Gone Are the Clouds [?] ?; short/?m; prod SzFF

1955

Hajnal elött/Before Dawn [József Zsuffa] b&w; short/15m; prod SzFF

1956

Ungarn in flammen/Revolt in Hungary [Stefan Erdelyi] b&w; doc/83m; cph: László Kovács & Ferencz Vass

1958

Az ég kékje/The Blue of the Sky [Vilmos Zsigmond & László Kovács] ?; short/?m; cph: László Kovács

1960

This Is Larry [?] ?; doc/?m

1960

The Prom [?] ?; short/?m

1961

Pulse of Life [Robert Berk] c; instructional doc/?m

1962

Wild Guitar [Ray Dennis Steckler] b&w; 2uc (as William Zsigmond); ph: Joseph C. Mascelli

1963

Lullaby [Vilmos Zsigmond & László Kovács] ?; short/?m; cph: László Kovács

1963

Story of the Wholesale Produce Market [Leonard Greenberg] c; doc/12m

1963

Mark of the Gun [Walter Campos] b&w; cph: László Kovács

1963

The Sadist/Profile of Terror/Sweet Baby Charlie [James Landis] b&w; as William Zsigmond

1963

Living Between Two Worlds [Bobby Johnson] b&w; as William Zsigmond

1963

What's Up Front/The Fall Guy/A Fourth for Marriage [Bob Wehling] c; as William Zsigmond

1963

Summer Children/A Hot Summer Game/It's All in the Game [James Bruner] b&w; lighting: László Kovács & Ernie Reed; as William Zsigmond

1964

Nasty Rabbit/Spies-A-Go-Go [James Landis] ts/c; as William Zsigmund

1964

The Time Travelers/Time Trap/This Time Tomorrow [Ib Melchior] c; as William Zsigmond

1964

Echo of Terror/Psycho-A-Go-Go!/The Man with the Electronic [Synthetic] Brain/The Love Maniac/Blood of Ghastly Horror [Al Adamson] ts/c; as William Zsigmond; prod in 1964 as 'Echo of Terror'; with new scenes in 1965: 'Psycho-A-Go-Go'; new scenes/re-edited: 'The Man with the Electronic [Synthetic] Brain'; re-edited in 1972 as 'Blood; re-edited in 1972 as 'Blood; re-edited in 1972 as 'Blood; re-edited in 1972 as 'Blood of Ghastly Horror'

1964

Tell Me in the Sunlight [Steve Cochran] b&w; uncred ?; ph: Rod Yould

1965

Tales of a Salesman [Don Russell] c; 53m; as William Zsigmond

1965

Deadwood '76 [James Landis] ts/c; cph: Lewis Guinn; as William Zsigmond

1965

Rat Fink/My Soul Runs Naked/Wild and Willing [James Landis] b&w; as William Zsigmond

1965

[The] Gun Riders/The Lonely Man/Five Bloody Graves [Al Adamson] ts/c; as William Zsigmond

1966

The Cat [Ellis Kadison] c; nature ph; ph: Monroe Askins

1966

Road to Nashville [Will Zens] ts/c; addph (as William Zsigmund); ph: Leif Rise

1967

The Name of the Game Is Kill!/The Female Trap [Gunnar Hellström] c; as William Zsigmond

1967

Blood of Dracula's Castle/Dracula's Castle [Al Adamson] c; uncred cph (left film early in prod); ph: László Kovács (as Leslie Kovacs)

1967

Mondo Mod [Peter Perry (= Bethel Buckalew)] c; doc/72m; cph: László Kovács (as Leslie Kovacs); 2uc: Ewing Brown & Edward DePriest; spec pfx: Rolf Jargon; as William Zsigmond

1968

Working Women [Robert Aller] ?

1968

The Monitors [Jack Shea] c; as William Zsigmond

1968

The Picasso Summer [Serge Bourguignon & Robert Sallin] c; addph: Henri Alekan & David Shore

1968

Jennie: Wife – Child/Tender Grass [James Landis & Robert Carl Cohen] b&w; cph: R.C. Cohen; as William Zsigmond

1969

Futz! [Tom O'Horgan] c

1969

Hot Rod Action [Gene McCabe] c; doc/72m; cph: Mario Tosi & Vilis Lapenieks; as William Zsigmond

1969

The Ski Bum/Point Zero [Bruce Clark] c

1969

Satan's Sadists/Nightmare Bloodbath [Al Adamson] c; uncred cph; ph (+ ed): Gary Graver

1969

Horror of the Blood Monsters/Creatures of the Red Planet/The Flesh Creatures/Vampire Men of the Lost Planet [Al Adamson] c; cph: William Troiano; as William Zsigmond

1970

The Hired Hand [Peter Fonda] c

1970

Red Sky at Morning [James Goldstone] c

1970

McCabe and Mrs. Miller [Robert Altman] p/c; 2uc: Rod Parkhurst

1970

Dusty and Sweets McGee [Floyd Mutrux] c; doc + dram seq/95m; uncred co-addph ('Whiskey a Go Go' nightclub scenes); ph: William Fraker

1971

Soul to Soul [Denis Sanders] tao/c; concert film/96m; cph: Erik Daarstad, David Myers, Jeri Sopanen, a.o.; filmed 6 March (Ghana)

1971

Deliverance [John Boorman] p/c; 2uc: Bill Butler

1971

Images [Robert Altman] p/c

1971

The Argument [Donald Cammell] cs/c; short/14m; released in 2000

1972

The Master [Richard Colla] ?

1972

The Long Goodbye [Robert Altman] p/c

1972

Scarecrow [Jerry Schatzberg] p/c

With Steven Spielberg [hat] - "The Sugerland Express" - photo Thys Ockersen Archive

1973

The Sugarland Express [Steven Spielberg] p/c

1973

Cinderella Liberty [Mark Rydell] c

1973

The Girl from Petrovka [Robert Ellis Miller] p/c

1974

Funny Lady [Herbert Ross] replaced by ph James Wong Howe during shooting

1975

Dandy, the All-American Girl/Sweet Revenge [Jerry Schatzberg] p/c

1975

Death Riders [James Wilson] c; doc/84m; cph: J. Wilson

1975

Obsession [Brian De Palma] p/c

1975

Iron and Horse [Karoly Bardosh] p/c; short/28m; prod AFI (USA)

With Steven Spielberg [l] - "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

1976 

Close Encounters of the Third Kind [Steven Spielberg] p/c; ph India seq: Douglas Slocombe; ph add scenes USA: William Fraker; addph: John Alonzo & László Kovács; 2uc: Steven Poster; UFO ph: Dave Stewart; spec pfx: Richard Yuricich (ph) & Douglas Trumbull (superv); optical ph: Robert Hall; mothership ph: Dennis Muren

1976

The Last Waltz [Martin Scorsese] c; interv + concert film/115m; co-addph; ph: Michael Chapman; concert filmed 25 November (San Francisco)

1976

Winter Kills [William Richert] p/c; addph: John Bailey; production halted, but resumed in December 1978

1977

A Wedding [Robert Altman] announced as doph, but replaced by Charles Rosher Jr.

1977

The Deer Hunter [Michael Cimino] p/c; replaced William Fraker during production

1978

The Rose [Mark Rydell] c; addph concert scenes: Bobby Byrne, Conrad Hall, László Kovács, Haskell Wexler, Owen Roizman, David Myers, Jan Kiesser, a.o.

1979

Heaven's Gate/Johnson County Wars [Michael Cimino] p/c

1980

Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Special Edition [Steven Spielberg] see 1976; addph 'Special Edition': Allen Daviau

1980

Blow Out [Brian De Palma] p/c; uncred addph: László Kovács

1981

The Border [Tony Richardson] p/c; addph; ph: Ric Waite

1981

Jinxed! [Don Siegel] c

1982

Table for Five [Robert Lieberman] c; addph: Jan Kiesser; 2uc: Victor Goss; aph: Rex Metz

1983

Predator: The Concert/Grizzly II: The Predator [André Szöts] was originally hired as doph, but quit due to creative differences; prod was ph by László Kovács

1983

The River [Mark Rydell] c; 2uc: Steven Poster & Rex Metz (add); matte ph: Bill Taylor

1984

No Small Affair [Jerry Schatzberg] c

1985

Real Genius [Martha Coolidge] p/c; 2uc: Frederick Elmes

1985

The Witches of Eastwick [George Miller] p/c; vfx ph: Kim Marks & Patrick Turner

1988

Journey to Spirit Island [László Pal] c

1988

Fat Man and Little Boy/Shadow Makers [Roland Joffé] J-D-C Scope/c

1989

The Two Jakes [Jack Nicholson] s35-to-35mm/c

1990

Scared of Guns [Alan Bloom] ?; cph: James Chressanthis

1990

The Bonfire of the Vanities [Brian De Palma] s35-to-35mm/c

1992

Sliver [Phillip Noyce] p/c; 2uc: Michael Benson & László Kovács

1992

Intersection [Mark Rydell] c; 2uc: László George; uwph: Pauline Heaton

1993

Maverick [Richard Donner] p/c; 2uc: John Connor; + small part

1994

The Crossing Guard [Sean Penn] c; 2uc: John Connor

1995

Assassins/Day of Reckoning [Richard Donner] c; 2uc: Gary Holt; aph: Frank Holgate

1995

The Ghost and the Darkness [Stephen Hopkins] p/c; 2uc: Gabriel Beristáin; Kenya ph: Jack Couffer

1995

Porthole to Paradise [Ivan Passer] ?

1997

Fantasy for a New Age [Richard Caesar] c; dram corporate film/35m; prod for Siemens AG

1998

Illegal Music [Zane Zidel] ?

1998

Playing By Heart/Intermedia [Willard Carroll] p/c; 2uc: John J. Connor & Joseph Urbanczyk

1999

Byron [Charles Jarrott] announced

1999

Mr. Hughes [Brian De Palma; based on scrpl by David Koepp] announced, but prod was cancelled

1999

The Body [Jonas McCord] p/c; 2uc: Avi Karpick & Gideon Porath

2000

Life as a House [Irwin Winkler] p/c; addph: Johnny E. Jensen

2001

Bánk Bán [Csaba Káel] c; opera film; 2uc: Tamás Lajos & Tibor Vagyóczky

2002

Timeline [Richard Donner] s35/c; co-2uc; ph: Caleb Deschanel

2002

Jersey Girl [Kevin Smith] p/c

2003

Melinda and Melinda [Woody Allen] c

2004

Medicine Chest [Douglas Busby] c/V; mus short/?m

"The Black Dahlia"

2005

The Black Dahlia [Brian De Palma] s35/c

2005

Torn from the Flag [Endre Hules & Klaudia Kovács] HD/c; doc/95m; ; cph: Zoltán Honti, László Kovács (Los Angeles & Hungary) & Justin Schein; + co-exec prod; filmed October 2004-December 2005

2006

Cassandra's Dream [Woody Allen] c

2007

Bolden! [Dan Pritzker] s35/c; 2uc: Frank Godwin; aph: David B. Nowell

2007

Louis/The Great Observer [Dan Pritzker] b&w/silent; short/60m; 2uc: Frank Godwin; + small part

2008

One More Time [created and edited by Ray Dennis Steckler] c; 66m; as William Zsigmond (footage from 1963); cph: Joseph V. Mascelli, Leslie Kovacs & R.D. Steckler; 'sequel' to 'The Incredibly Strange Creatures...' (1963)

2009

King Shot [Alejandro Jodorowsky] scheduled to start filming in June, later October; prod cancelled due to lack of funds

[Left] with dir Woody Allen

"You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger"

2009

You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger [Woody Allen] c

2009

A Half of Two Lives/Love Affair [Csaba Káel (later Nicholas Meyer)] + co-exec prod; announced; status unknown

2010

The Maiden Danced to Death/A halálba táncoltatott leány [Endre Hules] RED-to-35mm/c; cph: Zoltan Honti

2010

Three Dog Night [Doug Dearth] + exec prod; scheduled for a May 2011 start; later early 2012; later Summer 2013 with doph David Gribble

2011

Freedom Flight [Endre Hules] announced; status unknown

2011

At 2:15 [Maria De Kannon Cle] pre-production; scheduled to start filming in October; later July 2012; status unknown

2012

Compulsion [Egidio Coccimiglio] c

With Frederic Goodich [r] - "Kickstart Theft"

2012

Kickstart Theft [Frederic Goodich] HD (Sony F65)-to-D-Cinema/c; comm short/7m; + c.op; for Band Pro Film & Digital Inc. (Burbank/New York/Munich/Tel Aviv)

2013

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks [Arthur Allan Seidelman] HD/c; addph: Barna Király

2013

God the Father [Simon Fellows] b&w-c; doc + re-enactments + anim/101m; addph: David Kaptein


 TELEVISION

1963

Story of... [ep 'Story of a Champion' dir by Robert Aller (RA) & 'Story of a Coach' dir by RA] 38-part doc series, 1962-63; cph: Vilis Lapenieks & Erik Daarstad ('Story of a Champion'); as William Zsigmond

1965

The Market [Jack Shepard] doc/60m; as William Zsigmond

1966

Wonderful World of Wheels [Gene McCabe (?)] special/60m; cph: László Kovács

1967

The World of Animals [ep 'Big Cats, Little Cats' dir by Bud Wiser] 3-part series, 1966-68; cph: J. Barry Herron, John Alonzo, David Blewitt, a.o.; as William Zsigmond

1969

[The Bold Ones:] The Protectors [ep #1 'A Case of Good Whiskey at Christmas Time' dir by Robert Day] 6-part series

1969

Baja Marimba Band [Bill Edwards] mus special/60m

1978

Flesh and Blood [Jud Taylor] 2-part tvm

1988

China Beach [ph spec interview seq ep #20 'Vets' (1989) dir by John Sacret Young] 64-part series, 1988-91; 2nd season, 1988-89; this episode features anecdotes of actual Vietnam Veterans telling their wartime experiences mixed with scenes from previous 'China Beach' episodes

1989

China Beach [ph spec interview seq ep #38 'Souvenirs' (1990) dir by John Sacret Young] 3rd season, 1989-90; ph: Richard Thorpe; see 1988

1991

Stalin [Ivan Passer] tvm

2000

The Mists of Avalon [Uli Edel] 2-part tvm

2004

Surrender, Dorothy [Charles McDougall] tvm/s16; 2uc: Jack Garrett

2012

The Mindy Project [pilot dir by Charles McDougall] series, 2012-present


 FILMS AS CAMERA OPERATOR

1963

The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed Up Zombies!!?/Teenage Psycho Meets Bloody Mary [Ray Dennis Steckler] c.op (as William Zsigmond); ph: Joseph V. Mascelli


 FILMS AS DIRECTOR

1958

Az ég kékje/The Blue of the Sky [co-d; + cph] see Films

1963

Lullaby [co-d; + cph] see Films

1990

The Long Shadow/A Tékozló apa [feature] ph: Gábor Szabó