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William Zsigmond

William Zsigmond

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Also Known As: William Zsigmond Died:
Born: June 16, 1930 Cause of Death:
Birth Place: Hungary Profession: director of photography, lab technician, cameraman, still photographer, camera assistant

Biography CLOSE THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Along with Laszlo Kovacs, a fellow student who also fled Hungary in 1956, Vilmos Zsigmond rose to prominence in the 1970s.The son of a well-known Hungarian soccer player Zsigmond became interested in photography at a young age. He earned a degree from the State Academy of Motion Picture and Theatre Arts in Budapest and spent five years working at a film studio in Hungary, working his way up to director of photography. With the Russian invasion in 1956, he fled to the USA where he found work in the film industry difficult to obtain. After spending nearly seven years copying insurance documents on microfilm, operating a portrait photograph studio and working in a custom photo lab, Zsigmond landed work on independent features. Between 1963 and 1970, he shot 14 pictures under the name William Zsigmond (including the documentary "Mondo Mod" with Kovacs in 1967). He is known for his fluid camerawork and vivid use of color, often tailoring the cinematography to the specific project thereby evoking a particular mood and ambiance. Zsigmond won acclaim for his work on two Robert Altman features "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (1971) and "the Long Goodbye" (1973), Steven Spielberg's first feature "The Sugarland...

Along with Laszlo Kovacs, a fellow student who also fled Hungary in 1956, Vilmos Zsigmond rose to prominence in the 1970s.

The son of a well-known Hungarian soccer player Zsigmond became interested in photography at a young age. He earned a degree from the State Academy of Motion Picture and Theatre Arts in Budapest and spent five years working at a film studio in Hungary, working his way up to director of photography. With the Russian invasion in 1956, he fled to the USA where he found work in the film industry difficult to obtain. After spending nearly seven years copying insurance documents on microfilm, operating a portrait photograph studio and working in a custom photo lab, Zsigmond landed work on independent features. Between 1963 and 1970, he shot 14 pictures under the name William Zsigmond (including the documentary "Mondo Mod" with Kovacs in 1967). He is known for his fluid camerawork and vivid use of color, often tailoring the cinematography to the specific project thereby evoking a particular mood and ambiance. Zsigmond won acclaim for his work on two Robert Altman features "McCabe and Mrs. Miller" (1971) and "the Long Goodbye" (1973), Steven Spielberg's first feature "The Sugarland Express" (1974) and his sci-fi classic "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" (1977), which earned Zsigmond an Oscar. Zsigmond has also worked with directors John Boorman ("Deliverance" 1972) Brian De Palma ("Obsession" 1976; "Blow Out" 1980), Michael Cimino ("Heaven's Gate" 1980), Mark Rydell ("The River" 1984) and Sean Penn ("The Crossing Guard" 1995).

VIEW THE FULL BIOGRAPHY

Filmographyclose complete filmography

DIRECTOR:

1.
  Long Shadow, The (1992) Director

CAST: (feature film)

1.
 Side by Side (2012)
3.
5.
6.
 Maverick (1994) Albert Bierstadt
VIEW THE FULL FILMOGRAPHY

Milestones close milestones

1956:
Immigrated to US along with Laszlo Kovacks; brought footage of the Budapest uprising of October
:
Worked as stills photographer and cinematographer of educational films, then on commercials
1962:
Was camera operator on "The Incredibly Strange Creatures Who Stopped Living and Became Mixed-Up Zombies"
1963:
First feature as director of photography, "The Sadist/Profile of Terror"; credited as William Zsigmond
:
Began directing first feature in late 1990, the Israeli-Hungarian co-production "The Prodigal Father/The Prodigal Son"
1971:
First feature with director Robert Altman "McCabe & Mrs. Miller"
1973:
Again worked as the cinematographer on Robert Altman's "The Long Goodbye"
1976:
Worked with Brian De Palma on "Obsession"
1977:
Won an Oscar for his work as the cinematographer on Steven Spielberg's "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"
1978:
Earned an Oscar nomination for Best Cinematographer on Michael Cimino's "The Deer Hunter"
1980:
Again worked with Michael Cimino on "Heaven's Gate"
1981:
Was the cinematographer on the Brian De Palma thriller "Blow Out"
1990:
Again worked with Brian De Palma on "The Bonfire of the Vanities"
1990:
Was the cinematographer for the Jack Nicholson directed "The Two Jakes"
1992:
Earned an Emmy for his work on the TV-movie "Stalin"
1996:
Was the cinematographer for "The Ghost and the Darkness"
2001:
Earned an Emmy nomination for his work on "The Mists of Avalon"
2006:
Received an Oscar nomination as Best Cinematographer for "The Black Dahlia"
VIEW ALL MILESTONES

Education

Academy for Theater and Film Art: - 1951

Notes

"I think that every picture has its own world and I want to create a look for that particular picture each time I'm doing one. My mind only starts working when I read the script and see the sets. Then you start creating that world." --Zsigmond quoted in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkley, CA: University of California Press, 1984).

Companions close complete companion listing

wife:
Elizabeth Fuzes. Divorced.

Family close complete family listing

father:
Vilmo Zsigmond. Soccer goalie, coach.
mother:
Bozena Zsigmond.
daughter:
Julia Zsigmond.
daughter:
Susi Zsigmond.
VIEW COMPLETE FAMILY LISTING

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