Peter Gilbert was a respected director of photography working out of Chicago with many credits on music videos, PBS specials and series when he teamed with documentarians Steve James and Frederick Marx to handle the cinematography on a project about ghetto youths pursuing their dreams of playing professional basketball. They shot more than 250 hours worth of video which was eventually edited down to the three hour "Hoop Dreams" (1994), praised as one of the best films of the year. Despite its acclaim, appearance on virtually every Ten Best List and numerous awards from critics groups, the feature failed to win an Oscar nomination in the documentary category. (Unused footage had also been seen in the companion TV program "Higher Goals" which aired on PBS in 1992.)
The Chicago-based Gilbert also worked as director of photography on other projects, gaining recognition for such efforts as Michael Apted's "The Long Way Home" (1989), which profiled Soviet rock star Boris Grebenshikov, and the Oscar-winning "American Dream" (1990). He shot videos for artists ranging from REM to Peter Gabriel and worked on such TV programs as "American Masters," "Nova" and Phil Joanou's "Age Seven in America" (CBS, 1992).
After the success of "Hoop Dreams," Gilbert reteamed with Steve James to produce and serve as cinematographer on the biopic "Prefontaine" (1997). Because of budgetary restrictions, James rewrote the script to incorporate a documentary style which influenced Gilbert's choices as director of photography. He chose to shoot most of the motion picture with a handheld camera with zoom lenses, allowing for a freedom of movement which brought immediacy to the overall picture. Additionally, the race footage was shot at length so as to create a "sports feel" and allow for intercutting of stock footage of the real athlete.
Director (Feature Film)
Cinematography (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Misc. Crew (Feature Film)
Film Production - Main (Special)
Cinematography (TV Mini-Series)
Producer (TV Mini-Series)
With Frederick Marx and Steve James, began work on what was to become "Hoop Dreams"
Shot Michael Apted's documentary "The Long Way Home"
Was director of photography for Academy Award-winning documentary "American Dream"
Was director of photography and producer for the PBS special "Higher Goals", a documentary and precursor to "Hoop Dreams"
"Hoop Dreams" released; Gilbert was credited as a producer and as director of photography
Produced and shot the feature film "Prefontaine", directed by Steve James
Co-directed "All the Rage/It's the Rage"; screened at Toronto; premiered on Cinemax in April 2000; also produced
Signed to make solo directorial debut on "A Time for Dancing"