Editors Note:


EDITOR'S NOTE: Fresh off a three year managerial stint, your friendly neighborhood lenslinger is back on the street and under heavy deadline. As the numbing effects of his self-imposed containment wear off, vexing reflections and pithy epistles are sure to follow...

Saturday, February 26, 2005

Photogs in Cinema

Like alot of misunderstood trades, the TV news photographer never fares too well on the silver screen. Be it a lighthearted romantic comedy or a political thriller, the guy (or gal) behind the big lens usually comes off as some socially awkard ruffian more comfortable with his camera than other people. Okay, so that's not so far off the mark, but still, movie-makers seem to go out of their way to deride the role of the television news videographer.

Sometimes it's the technical things that gets the photog nation's goat. In the widely-panned 'Up Close and Personal' (a horrid defiling of the Jessica Savitch story), Michelle Pfieffer and her news photographer go Live(!) from inside a lockdowned prison WITH NO CABLES ATTACHING THEIR CAMERA TO THE LIVE TRUCK. This may seem like a little thing to the viewing public, but one would think camera-knowledgeable cinematographers might notice this type of thing. And it's not just the lack of cables, carboard cameras, phtogs who narrate as they shoot and laughable shooting posture mars most cinematic potrayals of the lens-toting set.

In fact, only two portrayals are widely embraced by the photog nation. The first is pretty marginal but worth mention. Hank Azaria plays 'Animal', a daring news shooter chasing the planet's most buffed-up lizard in the inane remake of 'Godzilla'. Far from a multi-layered portrait, Azaria does nail the scene in the rain, behaving exactly the way I'd expect most of my friends to if ever assigned to pursue a giant reptile through Gotham City. He even has deck troubles.

Sadly, the patron saint of on-screen photogs is still Chris Elliot's cameraman character in 'Groundhog Day'. I liked the film, as well as Elliot's scene-stealing performance of an ancillary role. Something about his character's sardonic defensiveness and skeevy attitude endears him to most every photog I've quizzed on the subject. But come on - we're still talking Chris Elliot here as the absolute pinnacle. I mean, did you SEE 'Cabin Boy'?

Someday Hollywood will get it right. Hell, maybe the first realistic take on us lenslingers could be the biopic of a certain mid-market fluff meister, a seasoned hack who squints through a dusty lens by day and bloviates about it on his blog by night...Hey, it could happen!

8 comments:

HockeyPat said...

You forgot about all those Adult films where the photographer comes from behind the camera to have sex with the Starlet.

Billy Jones said...

Hey, I'd pay to see that! If for no other reason just to say, "I knew Stewart Pittman when he was a local yokel TV photog." ;-)

jamie said...

Hey Man, Find a copy of Haskell Wexler's MEDIUM COOL eventhough it was shot in 1968 it is a well crafted film and full of relivant issues. And I will take the cool attitude of John Castanis over the pussy goofball of Chris Elliots character any day. "Hey wanna see the inside of a live truck" Ugggggh!!!!

Chewie said...

How's about Michael Douglas in China Syndrome? Those were the days of film and fortitude. Dude.

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