Today we shot William Fraker. The conversation went very well, Mr. Fraker makes for a great on-camera subject and his contribution to Old School, New School is going to be tremendous. He’s such wonderful presence about him, very lively, engaging, charming… he tells a good yarn and makes very wise observations. An absolute pleasure. he has a cure little dog named Gracie… she made it into the footage. Wonder if she’ll make final cut?
Like John Bailey, William Fraker is one of Hollywood’s most respected cinematographers. Are you unfamiliar with Mr. Fraker’s work? Then check out these classics: Rosemary’s Baby, Bullitt, WarGames, The Freshman, Tombstone, 1941, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Heavan Can Wait…. the list goes on. In the 1950s, he was even a camera op on The Lone Ranger TV series.
Once again I have to thank Lisa Muldowney at CCS and Melanie Jones at Kodak for making this all possible. And of course to DP Scott Uhlfelder and camera op Eric Diener for being part of the team!
This week in Los Angeles has been wonderfully full. Each morning has begun at five except Wednesday which started at 4 (so I could watch the movie Hud in continued prep for John Bailey’s shoot). Each day has been filled with the American Film Market, Old School, New School meetings with potential supports, meetings with old friends and colleagues (must keep up relations), The Canadian Film Commission, the ASC, various art centers, individuals referred by colleagues, etc…. going any and every where to get support for this doc.
What’s helped make the overwhelming schedule enjoyable is the reasoning and purpose behind the work. Actively and constructively pursuing a meaningful project gives me more adrenaline than my morning espressos.
I think most of the subjects have enjoyed our recorded conversations. (Bailey and Fraker seem no exception.) They all comment on how refreshing it is to be able to talk about high minded things on camera… intellectual art stuff. They really get into it and have a lot to say about creativity. The crews always enjoy it too… Most of the shoots have different videographers. Each have commented on getting wrapped up in the conversations as they were recording them. That’s a good sign.
At the end of the Fraker conversation, as the crew packed up and headed out, I heard Mr. Fraker’s voice from the dining room. “Hey, Steven. Come here a second.” I entered and spread out on the table were eight-by-ten photos, production stills from the movie Bullitt. “I just got these yesterday,” Mr. Fraker said, still admiring the prints. They were very rare photos that documented the famous chase scene. The rigging on the car for the lights and camera is commonplace now, but in 1968 it was unheard of. He told me some great stories as he guided my eye across the photos.
I had to tell him how influential The Legend of the Lone Ranger was to me. I was eight when it came out and images from that movie affected me so much, they’ve been with me ever since. (That movie includes one of the most harrowing stunts ever put on celluloid: man sliding on his back under moving horses and stagecoach.) “Thank you for telling me that,” he said through a gentle smile.