February 6, 1922 – December 27, 2015
I’m so saddened to hear about Haskell Wexler’s passing. I was fortunate enough to take a workshop with him here in Seattle. Four things that stuck with me;
1) I made him laugh. We were asked to make a short film, cutting in camera, and I suggested that we interview all our classmates about how to wrap cable. Haskell chuckled when he saw it, and said “Good film. Know your audience.”
2) He gave the class 30 minutes to light a set. When we were done, he told us “This looks great.” He then turned off half of the lights, and said, “But doesn’t this look better?”
3) He recounted a day that he was a guest cinematographer on the set of YOU’VE GOT MAIL, because the DP was having a baby. He walked into a restaurant where each table had a white linen tablecloth with a lamp suspended over it. Without setting a light, he said “Perfect. Let’s shoot.” The producer then told him “You’re not even gonna set up a light? We’re paying you $10,000!” The takeaway, even if it’s perfect, set up a light in he corner that won’t affect your shot. The producers want to see that they’re getting their money’s worth.
4) When asked for one piece of parting advice for the class, we all expected him to share some profound bit about filmmaking, but instead he told us this; “When my wife drives, she usually takes a route that takes 10 minutes, instead of the route that I take which only takes five minutes. The hour of resulting arguing, is not worth the extra five minutes of drive time.” Great advice.
20/20 President & C0-Founder