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Bill DiPietra

Haskell Wexler Dies at 93

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Sad news. I just saw him last month at the ASC, he always seemed to be in good health.

 

I had the pleasure of working with him back in 2006 on "Big Love" when he came in to shoot one episode due to the failing health of Jim Glennon, who alternated with me. Jim called Haskell from the hospital and asked him to come in, and I quickly filled in Haskell about the show while I was shooting my episode. Jim actually passed away on the last day of Haskell's episode, which was also the first day of my next episode (we had a one-day overlapped schedule.) Haskell was a master of simplicity, coming out of his experience shooting documentaries -- if he could get away with not adding lights to a scene, he would, even if it meant shooting wide-open, so his episode had a very natural look. And he was very fast.

 

I had been a fan for years before I got to meet him, especially because of "Bound for Glory".

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The second movie I was ever on was The Babe. The operator who brought me on, the great Chicago cameraman and DP, Bill Birch, was old friends with Haskell from his Chicago days. Being able to hang around as they exchanged stories was remarkable. He was the only celebrity that I felt giddy meeting. Yet he was very kind and down to earth, even to some young kid who "was crazy enough to want to get into the picture business," as he put it. It really is a loss to lose not only such a talented DP, but also someone who seemed like such a wonderful person.

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I got to meet and work with him on a smaller project around 2008-2009 and I have yet to meet someone who is so sharp and quick to see what is right/wrong with a scene/cut. He was then in his mid 80's but had no problem running around shooting and giving great input. He had a really funny humor too, which is also evident in the interviews with him. He also had the nice quality to give advice and be respectful to a young guy like me, I've worked with others that have been in the business for a long time (no way near as good) they have had a demeanor of "know-it-all". Haskell when I worked with him was still interested in learning new things, he was using miniDV cameras (this after shooting on film for 50 years), he seemed to have a sense of keep learning and keep improving even though really he was a legendary master of cinematography. It is very inspiring to work with people like him.

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I shared a credit with him,and others. on Revenge of the electric car.. and agree with everything said above.. he could have just sat back by the pool.. but he never stopped fighting the good fight .. the term is used alot .. but truly a great man..

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My he rest in peace.

 

Bill says "he left quite a legacy".

 

Are there any trademarks or recognizable stylistic devices he was known for?

 

Just look at his body of work listed on IMDb. Whatever you haven't watched, check it out. The two films that left big impressions on me were Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf (1966) & One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975.) He was another cinematographer who was of that generation which was completely committed to story, so he didn't really have any stylistic motifs. He used whatever the story called for.

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