Words: Saam Das
Cinematographer Harris Savides sadly passed away earlier this year from brain cancer. Considering his body of work, taking in the likes of REM's 'Everybody Hurts' to multiple collaborations with Gus Van Sant and David Fincher, I was woefully unfamiliar with his name until recently. But a beautiful, intimate interview (of sorts) with the man brought him to my attention, which you really must watch below.
The interview sees Mr Savides in his home, his unusual yet easy-going style of answering questions and the metamorphosis of the interview into a vivid observation into the interaction between Savides and his daughter, Sophie. It's fair to say, as one of the commentators noted on the video, that we learn so much more about the man this way.
The cinematographer's career is summed up excellently by Ryan Gilbey at The Guardian but some of his highlights are discussed here. His early career comprised of commercials and music videos - including 'Everybody Hurts', Michael Jackson's 'Scream', Madonna's 'Rain', and 'Closer' (best not viewed at work) by Nine Inch Nails. His commercial work encompassed his whole career, including adverts with Martin Scorcese and John Hillcoat but Savides soon found his way into feature films.
Savides completed second unit work on David Fincher's 1995 'Seven' before becoming his director of photography on 1997's 'The Game' (and later 'Zodiac'). He began a fruitful collaboration with Gus Van Sant, which included 'Milk' and 'Elephant', while also working with Noah Baumbach, Ridley Scott and Woody Allen.
His style was naturalistic yet experimental, and he became known for choosing to light the space and setting of a scene, rather than the actors themselves. Despite this, as per the examples above, Savides seemed popular with many acclaimed film directors - a career culminating in Sophia Coppola's upcoming feature 'The Bling Ring', following a previous colloboration on 2010's 'Somewhere'. I suspect his final work will do justice to a fine career.
Harris Savides (28 September 1957 - 9 October 2012). Our condolences to his family and friends.