Haskell Wexler in 1999
February 6, 1922|
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
|Died||December 27, 2015
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
|Occupation||Cinematographer, film producer and director|
|Spouse(s)||Nancy Ashenhurst (m. 1943-1953; divorced; 2 children)
Marian Witt (m. 1954-1985 divorced; 1 child)
Rita Taggart (m. 1989-2015; his death)
I'd say to anyone trying to break into the business, 'Don't just be interested in movies. Be interested in life. Be a person. Be in touch.'
I am a Chicagoan. I feel like I've simply been on vacation for 10 years in Los Angeles. But Chicago is a real place, and L.A. is a motel.
One person has a responsibility not just for himself but for inter-relationships with the existences of others and the world.
See, New York is over the hill. It's swallowed up in its own garbage. And the people – I can't stand the people.
Documentary people have to know that, particularly nowadays, they have to be on a mission. And part of the mission is to – is to be like good journalists: search for the truth, have an open mind, listen to as much as you can of different sides of things.
People say they make movies to show what 'really happens.' But they only show what they choose to show.
When they speak about 'We the people…,' we the people have to have a voice. It can't just be the establishment voice.
I think that we should remember that social change can happen when people join together with some strength.
We have a responsibility to show the public the kinds of truths that they don't see on the TV news or the Hollywood film.
Employers will work you longer for less money and under questionable safety conditions because it is their duty to prioritize the bottom line. As individuals, we cannot complain. That's why we need a union to speak for us, certainly when our safety, our health, and our very lives are at stake!
Movies are a voyeuristic experience. You have to make the audience feel like they are peeking through a keyhole. I think of myself as the audience. Then I use light, framing, and motion to create a focal point.
I don't believe in publicity before a film is completed. It costs you money and wastes your energy, and you're inflating your balloon before you have a balloon.
The best thing that winning those Academy Awards things are – the best thing of it is that when I say some of my ideas, somebody's going to listen to it, and they'll preface what I say, 'Academy Award winner da-da-da-da-da.'
Professional cinema image-taking should integrate, serve, interest, and enhance the story. I judge cinematography not just for a story well told but for what the story is.
I don't think there is a movie that I've been on that I wasn't sure I could direct it better. But certainly also, as a director of photography, I have to serve the movie in whatever way I can as a filmmaker.
I was a sailor. I was torpedoed, spent two weeks in a lifeboat. I was on the Murmansk run; I worked a 20 mm. machine gun, helped bring down a Stuka, all that kind of stuff. I've got letters from Franklin Roosevelt for things I did then. But those kind of credentials didn't work for you in the Cold War.
I don't know why I developed a social consciousness, but I really think I have a consciousness; I feel connected to everything and everybody in the world.
As a cameraman, I am interested in images and truth. Today, people are conditioned to accept lies if they are commercial lies. What we don't see anymore is ethics.
Making a film – particularly what I think is a good film – is the result of a team of people, and the end result has many, many hands on it.
There's a scene in 'Medium Cool' in which a young man walks by with a sign that says, 'Sanity, please.' If anything summarizes what I was feeling at that time, it is that sign.
I don't attack any kind of script or shooting with some philosophy that is discernible even to myself. It might just be art and love: When I got my Academy Award for 'Virginia Woolf' in the middle of the Vietnam War, I said, 'I hope we can use our art for peace and love.'