William Fraker


Director Of Photography

About

Also Known As
Cameraman, Bill Fraker, Bud Fraker, William Fraker Jr., William A. Fraker
Birth Place
Los Angeles, California, USA
Born
September 29, 1923
Died
May 31, 2010
Cause of Death
Cancer

Biography

An elder statesman of cinematography traditionally trained in the old style of the Hollywood cameraman, William A Fraker successfully bridged the gap to the newer freedoms and technological innovations of modern cinema, all the while actively campaigning to enhance the status of the director of photography within the industry power structure. His maternal grandmother, father and uncle ha...

Notes

In 2001, Fraker was awarded the Mary Pickford Alumni Award from USC.

"I think the criterion for separating the men from the boys is the fact that when you look at a cinematographer's work on screen, you have to look at the consistency of the work. The consistency has to be there." --William A Fraker quote introducing section on Fraker in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: The University of California Press, 1984)

Biography

An elder statesman of cinematography traditionally trained in the old style of the Hollywood cameraman, William A Fraker successfully bridged the gap to the newer freedoms and technological innovations of modern cinema, all the while actively campaigning to enhance the status of the director of photography within the industry power structure. His maternal grandmother, father and uncle had all worked as still photographers within the studio system, and he resolved at an early age to be a cameraman. After attending the University of Southern California's film school on the GI Bill and finding himself frozen out of The Camera Guild, Fraker scraped by as an editor at various television production companies and took non-union camera jobs shooting inserts and stock footage. He finally began as a loader in 1954 on the ABC series "The Lone Ranger" and subsequently spent over seven years on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (ABC), rising from second assistant to operator during that time. He has often expressed his appreciation for director-star Ozzie Nelson: "If there's any success I've achieved or will achieve, I attribute the major portion of it to Ozzie."

Once he became an operator, Fraker began his association with fellow USC alum Conrad Hall on such TV shows as the Western "Stoney Burke" (ABC, 1962-63) and "The Outer Limits" (1963-65). When Hall graduated to features, he tapped Fraker as his operator for three of his first four pictures as director of photography, two of which ("Morituri" 1965, "The Professionals" 1966) earned him Oscar nominations. Fraker then made his own debut as cinematographer on "The Games" (1967) and followed quickly that year with "The Fox" and "The President's Analyst," wherein he began to push boundaries via use of faster and wider lenses, restricted lighting sources and techniques like "flashing" and deliberate overexposure. He would truly prove his mettle in 1968 with two very diverse, commercial properties. Shooting almost entirely inside, he helped director Roman Polanski capture the dreamlike, claustrophobic quality of the restrained horror classic "Rosemary's Baby." In contrast, Peter Yates' "Bullitt" exploded off the screen, and its vicious duel between a Mustang Fastback and a Dodge Charger along San Francisco's rolling hills established the benchmark for automobile chase sequences. He also landed Joshua Logan's big-budget epic musical "Paint Your Wagon" (1969) because art director-production designer John Truscott had seen "The Fox" and knew they were striving for a similar look.

"Paint Your Wagon" was the first Western feature Fraker photographed, but the homegrown Southern Californian has often steered his career back to that genre in a continuing effort to bring his vision of the West to the screen. "I love Westerns, because that period is one of the most romantic times in history," he told American Cinematographer (February 2000). He made his feature directorial debut with "Monte Walsh" (1970), based on the novel by Jack Schaefer (the author of "Shane"). The film starred Lee Marvin as an aging cowboy who realizes that the West he knew and loved was vanishing, taking his place with it as well. In addition to revisiting the West (and his professional past) for his third directing assignment, "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" (1981), which he shot in Monument Valley as an homage to director John Ford, he has also addressed his Western vision as a director of photography on the films "Rancho Deluxe" (1975), "Murphy's Romance" (1985) and "Tombstone" (1993).

Despite periodic work as a director, Fraker's first love remains cinematography, and he has frequently been invaluable as a director of photography to first-time directors like Floyd Mutrux ("Dusty and Sweets McGee" 1971), inaugurating a five-picture collaboration, and Charles Shyer ("Irreconcilable Differences" 1984), with whom he worked on two additional features. He met actor Burt Reynolds on the set of "Fade-In" (1968) and later served as cinematographer on his directing debut, "Gator" (1976), as well as for "Sharkey's Machine" (1981), not to mention directing him in the ABC movie "The Dancer's Touch" (1989). "Heaven Can Wait" (1978) successfully paired Fraker with first-time co-directors Warren Beatty and Buck Henry and allowed him to re-create the old studio lighting of the "Golden Age" pictures that had inspired him in the first place. That film earned him his second Oscar nomination (the first, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar," had come the year before), and he would garner four more nods (two for "1941" 1979, "WarGames" 1983 and "Murphy's Romance").

Fraker followed his illustrious peers Haskell Wexler and Bill Butler to shoot the last 10 days or so of Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning Best Picture "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and true to his mantra of "consistency" kept to the style established by his predecessors. Two decades later, he and John Frankenheimer signed on to "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1996) a week into production after the original cinematographer and director had quit over creative differences with the studio. Although he hasn't helmed a feature since "The Legend of the Lone Ranger," his directing work for TV has included six episodes of the acclaimed CBS series "Wise Guy" at the end of the 80s and a 1993 episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS). After he worked with yet another first-timer, Stephen Kessler, on "Vegas Vacation" (1997), Fraker's inability to find meaningful material kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the 90s, but following his receipt of the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, he roared back with two highly-anticipated features, William Friedkin's "Rules of Engagement" (2000) and Peter Chelsom's "Town & Country" (2001), the latter reuniting him with Warren Beatty.

Filmography

 

Director (Feature Film)

Town & Country (2001)
Director
The Dancer's Touch (1989)
Director
A Reflection of Fear (1973)
Director
Monte Walsh (1970)
Director

Cast (Feature Film)

Cinematographer Style (2006)
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Himself
Dusty and Sweets McGee (1971)
Big time dope dealer [also known as the violinist]

Cinematography (Feature Film)

Waking Up in Reno (2002)
Director Of Photography
Town & Country (2001)
Director Of Photography
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Director Of Photography
Vegas Vacation (1997)
Director Of Photography
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Director Of Photography
Father of the Bride Part II (1995)
Director Of Photography
Death in Small Doses (1995)
Director Of Photography
There Goes My Baby (1994)
Director Of Photography
Street Fighter (1994)
Director Of Photography
Tombstone (1993)
Director Of Photography
Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1992)
Director Of Photography
Honeymoon In Vegas (1992)
Director Of Photography
The Freshman (1990)
Director Of Photography
Chances Are (1989)
Director Of Photography
An Innocent Man (1989)
Director Of Photography
Burglar (1987)
Director Of Photography
Baby Boom (1987)
Director Of Photography
Space Camp (1986)
Director Of Photography
Murphy's Romance (1985)
Director Of Photography
Fever Pitch (1985)
Director Of Photography
Irreconcilable Differences (1984)
Director Of Photography
Protocol (1984)
Director Of Photography
WarGames (1983)
Director Of Photography
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982)
Director Of Photography
Sharky's Machine (1981)
Director Of Photography
Divine Madness (1980)
Director Of Photography
The Hollywood Knights (1980)
Director Of Photography
1941 (1979)
Director Of Photography
Old Boyfriends (1979)
Director Of Photography
American Hot Wax (1978)
Director Of Photography
Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977)
Director Of Photography
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Director Of Photography
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Director Of Photography
Lipstick (1976)
Director Of Photography
Gator (1976)
Director Of Photography
The Killer Inside Me (1976)
Director Of Photography
Aloha, Bobby And Rose (1975)
Director Of Photography
Rancho Deluxe (1975)
Director Of Photography
Coonskin (1975)
Director Of Photography
The Day of the Dolphin (1973)
Director Of Photography
Dusty and Sweets McGee (1971)
Director of Photography
Paint Your Wagon (1969)
Director of Photography
The Fox (1968)
Director of Photography
Bullitt (1968)
Director of Photography
Rosemary's Baby (1968)
Director of Photography
The President's Analyst (1967)
Director of Photography
Games (1967)
Director of Photography
Wild Seed (1965)
Camera Operator
Forbid Them Not (1962)
Director of Photography
The Pleasure of His Company (1961)
Title background Photographer
The Bellboy (1960)
Stills
Last Train from Gun Hill (1959)
Stills
King Creole (1958)
Stills
War and Peace (1956)
Stills
The Young Guns (1956)
Assistant Camera op
The Redhead and the Cowboy (1951)
Stills
Molly (1951)
Stills
Let's Dance (1950)
Stills
Rope of Sand (1949)
Stills
Frenchman's Creek (1944)
Stills
Among the Missing (1934)
Stills
American Madness (1932)
Stills

Producer (Feature Film)

Tombstone (1993)
Associate Producer
Forbid Them Not (1962)
Producer

Film Production - Main (Feature Film)

One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest (1975)
Photography
The Defense Rests (1934)
Still Photographer
The Party's Over (1934)
Still Photographer
Cocktail Hour (1933)
Still Photographer
Lady for a Day (1933)
Still Photographer

Misc. Crew (Feature Film)

Town & Country (2001)
Other
Rules of Engagement (2000)
Dp/Cinematographer
Vegas Vacation (1997)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996)
Other
Father of the Bride Part II (1995)
Dp/Cinematographer
Tombstone (1993)
Other
Honeymoon In Vegas (1992)
Dp/Cinematographer
Memoirs Of An Invisible Man (1992)
Dp/Cinematographer
Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography (1992)
Other
The Freshman (1990)
Dp/Cinematographer
Chances Are (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
An Innocent Man (1989)
Dp/Cinematographer
Space Camp (1986)
Other
Protocol (1984)
Dp/Cinematographer
The Best Little Whorehouse In Texas (1982)
Dp/Cinematographer
1941 (1979)
Other
Old Boyfriends (1979)
Dp/Cinematographer
American Hot Wax (1978)
Other
Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977)
Dp/Cinematographer
Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
Dp/Cinematographer

Cinematography (Special)

Checkered Flag (1990)
Director Of Photography

Life Events

1954

Got start in television, beginning as a loader on the ABC series "The Lone Ranger"

1956

Served as camera assistant on "The Young Guns"

1961

Worked as director of photography on the documentary "Forbid Them Not"

1964

Was camera operator on "Father Goose"

1965

Operated camera on three of Hall's first four features as director of photography, "Wild Seed", "Morituri" and "The Professionals" (first collaboration with director Richard Brooks), the latter two earned Hall Oscar nominations

1967

Feature debut as director of photography, "Games" (Universal)

1968

First association with Burt Reynolds, "Fade-In"

1968

Enjoyed professional and creative turning point with the success of Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" and Peter Yates' "Bullitt", serving as director of photographer on both

1970

Made feature directorial debut with "Monte Walsh"

1971

First of five films with director Floyd Mutrux, the semi-documentary "Dusty and Sweets McGee"; also appeared in picture as a big-time drug dealer, as well as being a partner in the Laughlin-Fraker-Mutrux-Michael Production

1971

Helmed "Reflection of Fear" (released in 1973)

1975

Reteamed with Mutrux for "aloha, bobby and rose"

1975

Shot the last 10 days or so of Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning Best Picture "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", after both Haskell Wexler and Bill Butler had worked on it

1976

Served as cinematographer for Reynolds' feature directorial debut, "Gator"

1977

First collaboration with Steven Spielberg, shot additional scenes for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

1977

Received first Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for work on Richard Brooks' "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"

1978

Third film with Mutrux, "American Hot Wax"

1978

Earned second Academy Award nomination for "Heaven Can Wait", co-directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry

1979

Received two Oscar nominations for Spielberg's "1941" for Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography

1980

Fourth film with Mutrux, "The Hollywood Knights"

1981

Reunited with Reynolds for "Sharkey's Machine"

1981

Third feature directing project, "The Legend of the Lone Ranger"

1983

Earned another Oscar nomination for "WarGames"

1984

First film with director Charles Shyer, "Irreconcilable Differences"

1985

Second film as director of photography for Brooks, "Fever Pitch"

1985

Sixth and last Academy Award nomination to date, "Murphy's Romance"

1987

Was cinematographer on Hugh Wilson's "Burglar"

1987

Reunited with Shyer on "Baby Boom", starring Diane Keaton

1989

Reteamed with Yates on "An Innocent Man"

1989

Helmed "The Dancer's Touch" (ABC), the first of 12 TV-movies starring Reynolds as B L Stryker

1990

First film with director Andrew Bergman, "The Freshman"

1990

Fifth film with Mutrux, "There Goes My Baby" (released in 1994)

1992

Reunited with Bergman for "Honeymoon in Las Vegas"

1993

Served as associate producer and cinematographer on "Tombstone"

1993

Helmed an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS)

1994

Served as director of photography on Sandra Locke's ABC movie "Death in Small Doses"; Locke had acted in his "A Reflection of Fear"

1995

Third feature with Shyer for "Father of the Bride Part II", starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton

1996

Along with director John Frankenheimer, signed on for "The Island of Dr Moreau" a week into the scheduled production after the original director and cinematographer left due to creative differences with the studio

1997

Captured Las Vegas again for "Vegas Vacation"

1999

Honored by the American Society of Cinematographers with a lifetime achievement award

2000

Served as director of photography on William Friedkin's "Rules of Engagement", starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L Jackson, and Peter Chelsom's "Town & Country", which reteamed him with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton

Videos

Movie Clip

Freshman, The (1990) - Carmine Said One Boy Having just delivered the komodo dragon to New Jersey for the gangster-y Marlon Brando, NYU freshmen Clark and Steve (Matthew Broderick, Frank Whaley) meet Edward (B.D. Wong) and Maximilian Schell as kooky Larry London, and discover the menagerie no one had mentioned, in writer-director Andrew Bergman’s The Freshman, 1990.
Freshman, The (1990) - It Ain't Tony Bennett! New NYU film-school freshman Clark (Matthew Broderick) arrives in Little Italy and meets Victor (Bruno Kirby), who’s trying to make up for stealing and losing all his money, and who has promised him a job with his uncle Carmine (Marlon Brando), revealing the central joke, in writer-director Andrew Bergman’s The Freshman, 1990.
Freshman, The (1990) - The Glue Of Society Arrived at Grand Central Station from Vermont, headed downtown to NYU, matriculating Clark (Matthew Broderick) meets Victor (Bruno Kirby), early in writer-director Andrew Bergman’s hybrid comedy hit The Freshman, 1990, co-starring Marlon Brando, Maximilian Schell and Penelope Ann Miller.
Freshman, The (1990) - Guns And Provolone In his NYU film class, Clark (Matthew Broderick) is studying The Godfather: Part II, 1974, just after he’s been hired by Carmine Sabatini (played by Marlon Brando), who he’s been told was the basis for the Vito Corleone character, writer-director Andrew Bergman’s joke being about Paul Benedict as the pompous professor Fleeber, in The Freshman, 1990.
Freshman, The (1990) - The Son I Never Had Back at the Llittle Italy social club, NYU freshman Clark (Matthew Broderick) had intended to quit his job transporting endangered species for Godfather-like Carmine (Marlon Brando), but discovers he’s now engaged to his daughter, and receiving a gift, Bruno Kirby the nephew Victor, in The Freshman, 1990.
Freshman, The (1990) - It's Safe Here In Queens? Though visiting Queens was not mentioned in earlier scenes, NYU film school freshman Clark (Matthew Broderick), who because he’s broke has agreed to make a lucrative delivery for the uncannily Godfather-like Carmine Sabatini (Marlon Brando) arrives to get his car and is plausibly transfixed by Penelope Ann Miller as daughter Tina, in The Freshman, 1990.
Bullitt (1968) - Car Chase Just the early part of the famous chase, as cop Steve McQueen (title character) in the Mustang turns the tables the hit men (John Aprea, Paul Genge) in the Dodge Charger, in a geographically incoherent San Francisco, in Bullitt, 1968.
Bullitt (1968) - I Lost My Place Plentiful style, as San Francisco cop Steve McQueen (title character) collects commercial artist girlfriend Cathy (Jacqueline Bisset) at work, proceeding to a jazz club, now the Betelnut restaurant on Union Street, a local combo called Meridian West playing, in Peter Yates' Bullitt, 1968.
Bullitt (1968) - He Put In A Lot Of Change Delgetti (Don Gordon) and Bullitt (Steve McQueen, title character) do the textbook good-cop/bad-cop on a hotel clerk (Al Checco) as they re-trace the steps of their mob witness, leading to a visit with San Francisco cabbie Weissberg (Robert Duvall), in Peter Yates’ Bulllitt, 1968.
Bullitt (1968) - Our Man's In The Building Cop Steve McQueen (title character) alerts partner Delgetti (Don Gordon) then pursues the hit man (John Aprea), who's stalking their mob witness, shooting on location in the corridors of San Francisco General, in Bullitt, 1968.
Protocol (1984) - The Would-Be Assassin Washington D.C. cocktail waitress Sunny (Goldie Hawn) after work joins a gang ogling dignitaries, (Richard Romans as the Emir) and winds up in the hospital, early in director Herbert Ross’ Protocol, 1984, written by Buck Henry, co-starring Chris Sarandon.
Protocol (1984) - National Heroine Presidential aides Cliff DeYoung and Ed Begley Jr. among the riveted viewers as Washington D.C. cocktail waitress Sunny (Goldie Hawn, also executive producer), who accidentally took a bullet intended for a visiting dignitary, dazzles the press, Chris Sarandon as her minder, in Protocol, 1984.

Trailer

Family

William Fraker Jr
Father
Photographer. Learned craft from mother-in-law; started out at Universal, Pathe and First National before running the stills gallery at Columbia from 1928-1929 to 1934, when he died of pneumonia; of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction.
Charles Fraker
Uncle
Worked for Fraker's dad before moving to Paramount, where he later took over the department and ran it until after World War II, when the studios eliminated all their stills galleries.
William A Fraker Jr
Son
Second camera assistant. Born on July 14, 1960; had a bit role in father's directing debut ("Monte Walsh"); worked as second assistant camera on a number of his dad's films, including "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" (1981), "Murphy's Romance" (1985) and "SpaceCamp" (1986), before dying tragically.

Bibliography

Notes

In 2001, Fraker was awarded the Mary Pickford Alumni Award from USC.

"I think the criterion for separating the men from the boys is the fact that when you look at a cinematographer's work on screen, you have to look at the consistency of the work. The consistency has to be there." --William A Fraker quote introducing section on Fraker in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: The University of California Press, 1984)

"I don't believe in style. I think you find what the movie looks like within the material. And the director, the actors, the location all help you dictate the look of the film, not some arbitrary style you want to impose." --Fraker quoted in Moviemaker, June-July 1998

On receiving the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers: "I was flabbergasted, and I'm very honored. I love the ASC; it means a hell of a lot to a lot of people, so I'm very happy to get this award. Being recognized by your peers is probably more important than anything else."Also, if any success is given to me, it has to be shared with my crew--they are magnificent and loyal: gaffer Doug Pentek, best boy Don Yamosaki, camera operator David Diano, camera assistant Ted Chu and key grip Al Laverde." --Fraker to David E Williams in American Cinematograper, February 2000

"Why would anybody want to re-create reality? The only reason to attend a concert, a stage play or a movie is to escape reality. You have to be a storyteller, to invite the audience into what you want to say and take them on a trip. Part of that is photography, so why should I try to make it look 'real'?"One of the things I love about shooting in the studio, as opposed to on location, is that you can walk onto a dark stage and put that first light anywhere. That's the first brushstroke, and you can then build on it with each additional lamp. You create your own reality, rather than re-creating something that's already there." --Fraker in American Cinematographer, February 2000