Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Harris Savides, ASC, 1957-2012

Magazine article American Cinematographer

In Memoriam: Harris Savides, ASC, 1957-2012

Article excerpt

Harris Savides, ASC died Oct. 11 following an extended battle with brain cancer. He was 55.

Savides was born on Sept. 28, 1957, in New York City and grew up in the Bronx. He studied film and photography at the School of Visual Arts, and after he graduated, he assisted a number of still photographers in New York. He then spent nearly two years doing fashion photography in Milan and Paris.

Upon his return to the States, he landed photography jobs at magazines, advertising agencies and record companies. The latter asked him to shoot album covers, which in turn opened the door to music videos. Savides won consecutive MTV Video Music Awards for his cinematography on R.E.M.'s "Everybody Hurts" music-video and Madonna's "Rain." His Inch Nails' credits also included Nine "Closer," The Rolling Stones' "Like a Rolling Stone" and Michael Jackson's "Scream," as well as videos for Lenny Kravitz, David Bowie, Bjork, Henry Rollins, Ziggy Marley and Tom Waits.

Savides also began shooting commercials, notching credits with such brands as AT&T, Cotton, ESPN, Sega, L'Oreal, Calvin Klein, Evian and Coca-Cola. He won a Clio Award in 1994 for his work on the Miller Genuine Draft spot "Racetrack."

Savides moved into long-form cinematography on the telefilm Lake Consequence, which he followed with Phil Joanou's feature Heaven's Prisoners. Then David Fincher, who had worked with Savides on music videos and commercials, asked him to shoot the now-iconic opening titles for Seven. Two years later, Savides served as director of photography on Fincher's The Game (AC Sept. '97).

When speaking to AC about his next feature, James Gray's The Yards (AC Nov. ?0), Savides observed, "I don't think you can be too precious with photography [because] then it can become a very technical exercise. I prefer to approach the image in a much more instinctual way. If my meter is saying 'no,' I just might go there and follow my gut, and sometimes the best work comes out of that.

"I try to avoid lighting people," he continued. "My philosophy is to light the scene and let the people be in it, because in the world, people aren't carefully lit."

Savides was perhaps most closely associated with director Gus Van Sant, with whom he first collaborated on a Levi's commercial in the mid-1990s. Their first feature collaboration was Finding Forrester, but their second, the Sundance standout Gerry (AC April ? …

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