Georgevich Busy in New York; A Visit with Allen Daviau

Dejan recently shot a commercial featuring Harry Winston jewelry shot a high frame rates in underwater environments.
Dejan recently shot a commercial featuring Harry Winston jewelry shot a high frame rates in underwater environments.

I checked in with Dejan Georgevich in New York City a few days ago, and he is keeping busy with a wide range of projects and activities. “Diversity is our salvation,” says Dejan, and his full dance card demonstrates it. He’s finishing a documentary series on the history of Broadway for New York City’s Media and Entertainment Department in which big names stars talk about their experiences. That will be seen on a number of platforms including the Jumbotron in Times Square. In a few days, he’ll be traveling to Memphis to work on a commercial with Marlo Thomas promoting her charity work for St. Jude’s hospital. He recently shot for a documentary that came out this year titled Ordinary Miracles: The Photo League’s New York, a film about a crucial nexus in American documentary photography from 1935 to 1951. In his spare time, Dejan helps out Ron Fortunato on the television series Elementary, shooting occasional scenes and pickups. And he recently shot a Harry Winston jewelry spot using a high speed Vision Research Phantom camera and macro lenses. The director was Frank Prinzi’s son.

As if that weren’t enough, Dejan serves on the National Executive Board of the ICG Local 600, and is of course spearheading the efforts of the ASC in the Eastern region, along with Sol Negrin, Fred Elmes and Bob Gantz, with an eye to strengthening the connection with the Clubhouse in Hollywood and the west coast membership. And speaking of the Clubhouse, Dejan has been a professor at the School of Visual Arts in New York for 16 years, and this past February, a half dozen or so of his thesis students were able to travel west for the ASC Open House at the Clubhouse.

Dejan shooting at Augrabies Falls National Park, South Africa for a World Wildlife Fund documentary about land returned to the descendants of its original inhabitants, who had been forcibly removed.
Dejan shooting at Augrabies Falls National Park, South Africa for a World Wildlife Fund documentary about land returned to the descendants of its original inhabitants, who had been forcibly removed.

“It was a real privilege and a great opportunity to bring a group of advanced cinematography students out to L.A.,” says Dejan. “I enjoyed doing that. The first person they met, at the gate, was Haskell Wexler. He told them, ‘It’s not just the tools. It’s about what you have to say.’ What a treat. And this past year, I’ve had the pleasure of seeing many of my former students starting to make their marks and begin to build careers as assistants or directors of photography, and that is just great. The old saying is, ‘It’s not so much being a master – it’s how many masters we help create.’ I enjoy giving back.”

Also occupying Dejan’s time and thoughts is a feature project he has been developing and which he hopes to direct. The story takes place in Beirut at the beginning of the civil war there in the mid-1970s. The main character goes from a Naïve American writer who takes a U.N. job helping refugees to someone deeply involved in the espionage of war.

Dejan loves New York, and here he is shooting the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.
Dejan loves New York, and here he is shooting the famous Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

The title is The Fool’s Errand, and the story was written by George Dickerson, best remembered for playing Laura Dern’s father, the sheriff, in Blue Velvet, one of more than 20 feature credits as an actor. Dickerson survived being taken hostage in Beirut, and wrote the short story out of which The Fool’s Errand evolved.

We’ll keep our fingers crossed for Dejan. “It’s timely given the current East/West rapprochement and efforts to help in the Middle East,” says Dejan. “You know how it is with a feature project — it’s a marathon. We’ll see.”

* * *

Allen Daviau, ASC as photographed by Owen Roizman, ASC.
Allen Daviau, ASC as photographed by Owen Roizman, ASC.

Rodney Taylor and I recently visited Allen Daviau at the Motion Picture Country Home, where he has been recovering from a foot injury. Allen says his injury is now 100% healed, and adds that he is looking forward to getting back to work doing what he does best: directing the photography on feature films. Allen’s sharp intellect, good humor and wide-ranging curiosity were in evidence. Our conversation touched on Allen’s famous boyhood habit of sneaking onto the studio lot to surreptitiously observe master cinematographers like George Folsey, ASC at work. We also discussed Allen’s early work in “rock promos,” the progenitor of today’s music videos, and his memories of seeing color television for the first time. We chatted about the advent of digital cameras on movie sets, and the accompanying changes in attitudes, for better or worse. Allen recalled for us his early work with Steven Spielberg, including Empire of the Sun and ET: The Extra-Terrestrial, and answered our questions about more recent work like Van Helsing. Allen says that his enforced down time has given him a chance to further study the classics. He has been keeping his eye sharp by advising on the restoration of several older features, a process he enjoys thoroughly. His recent teaching gig at Art Center College of Design in Pasadena is currently on hold. His phone rings constantly with well-wishers and acolytes seeking advice.

Allen praised the staff and facilities at the Motion Picture Country Home, and I reminded him that the ASC has made generous contributions to the operation over the course of decades. What better application than to facilitate the recovery of one of the ASC’s most beloved and highly regarded cinematographers?

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