When I was a pre-teen / teenager, I only had one dream.
Go to Hollywood and become a cinematographer – failing that, a sound recordist. I was smart enough to know that I would need a mentor to take me on as an intern, and smart enough to know what happened to the large majority of people who ran off to Hollywood to make it big.
Did I know anyone in the ASC? No. Did I think it was a good idea to hitchhike to Hollywood without much more than the clothes on my back? No.
Then I got married and had children, and that was that.
I never quit looking at movies with a cinematographer’s eye, or wincing when I heard/saw a badly dubbed line of dialog. To this day, perspective, lighting and sight lines are in the front of my thoughts when watching a film.
I will say that when I heard that MGM had decided to sell all its props, scenery, wardrobe, et cetera, and bulldoze its back lot so people could build offices on it, that plunged me into a depression that lasted a week. Then a friend who owned both “American Pie” and Don McLean’s first album “Tapestry” played me a song called “Magdeline Lane”, and my heart sank again.
“MGM studios can’t make the nut
They’re auctioning Dorothy’s shoes
Gable is gone, the good witch is a slut
And I’ve got the parking-lot blues
The wizard brought benzedrine smiles
And he never let Dorothy doze
Ha- she died as she walked down the aisle
And all that remains is her clothes
Over the rainbow a Kansas tornado
Can twist up a little girl’s head
Aunt Em’s on relief and the tin man’s a thief
And even the wizard can’t wake the dead.”
(Pics courtesy of the “Phantom Of The Backlot” website.)