I had the lifetime experience of having been the stills photographer on the last movie that Vilmos had done, “Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks“. The man had brought us amazing works such as “Deer Hunter” “Close Encounters Of The Third Kind” “Deliverance” “McCabe & Mrs Miller” and so many more. Long recognized as one of the greatest cinematographers of all time.
Working on set with him, almost daily for seven weeks, he showed himself to be a master of his craft with an incredible ease. And Vilmos worked non-stop, starting the day well before anyone else and long after in the every night. Well into his 80’s he drove everyone much younger by many decades into doing better by just trying to keep up with him.
On the last day of our shooting in Budapest at the wrap party of the movie, Vilmos paid me what everyone tells me is the kindest comment ever. He said “You can work on my sets anytime, you never got in the way”. That still makes me laugh and smile.
I was just watching “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” on Friday thinking how amazing it was that I was the still photographer on one of his movies not that long ago. His last movie as it turns out, “Six Dance Lessons In Six Weeks”. Then yesterday I read the news of the passing of Vilmos Zsigmond, one of the greatest cinematographers of all time.
Vilmos won an Oscar for Close Encounters and was nominated for “The Deer Hunter”, “The River” and “The Black Dahlia”. However you have seen his work in so much more such as “Deliverance”, “Blow Out”, “The Long Goodbye” and “McCabe and Mrs. Miller”.
During the seven weeks on set with Vilmos, I was astounded by his unending energy and drive. He was there before I showed up and was there after I left. And I was on set pretty much longer than anyone. Vilmos had an ease of professionalism and confidence that was so very apparent.
Throughout, more people asked for his autograph than anyone else. At our wrap party, after what was another long day ending at maybe midnight, Vilmos paid me what I was told was about the best compliment ever from him. He said “You can work on my sets anytime, you never got in the way”. Made me laugh then, makes me laugh now. Thanks Vilmos!