By David Poland email@example.com
Producers, Yes… DPs, No…
There was a slight hitch in the giddy up on the set of The Producers in recent weeks as veteran DP John Bailey was dumped from the production after not being able to get along with first time director Susan Stroman.
Or perhaps it was Mr. Brooks. It is fascinating to look at his career and realize how loyal he is to actors and writers and that in his twelve film directing career, he has gone through cinematographers like Kleenex. Paul Lohmann shot two of the films (High Anxiety and Silent Movie) and at the end of the directing run, a camera operator on Spaceballs graduated to D.P. on both Robin Hood: Men in Tights and Dracula: Dead and Loving It. (I have to admit… I forgot that the Dracula film was even in the Brooks ouvre.) This cinematographer, Michael O’Shea, has a resume’ that suggests that he works fast and cleanly. But there is little of aesthetic interest there.
John Bailey, by my standards, is the most accomplished D.P. to ever work for Brooks on a hands-on production. (Freddie Francis and Laszlo Kovacs are amongst those who have worked on BrooksFilms productions for strong directors.) Bailey has shot more than 50 films, including two coming from Warner Bros. this summer. He has shot in the IMAX format, pushed the envelope in quality for indie digital productions with first time directors on The Anniversary Party, shot such visually influential films as American Gigolo, Silverado and A Brief History of Time. He’s worked for Schrader, Kasdan, Eastwood, Schlesinger, Ramis, Raimi, Brooks, Benton and so many others, including a lot of new directors. He had not shot a musical, though there were musical sequences in Living Out Loud, Light of Day and other films he’s shot.
In any case, it didn’t work out. Universal execs seem pleased with the footage that’s coming in, regardless of this glitch. It certainly didn’t bode ill for Collateral last year. But studios are getting more nervous about any information that can be perceived as negative coming out reagrding their film. And this is that. In this case, the biggest worry is that this is a sign of a first-time director missing the mark.
Bottom Line: We’ll see the movie when we see the movie. Remember, only one of the five Best Picture nominees last year was nominated for Best Cinematographer. And Scorsese was, likewise, the only nominated director whose cinematographer got a nod.