Friday, January 11, 2013

Speaking of the second unit

When David R. Ellis died the other day, I commented that second unit people don't get the credit they deserve. I hadn't noticed at the time I posted that, but overnight tonight/early tomorrow (Saturday the 12th) morning at 5:22 AM, TCM is running the short The Man Who Makes the Difference.

I'm not certain if I've seen this one; I find the one-reel behind-the-scenes looks at movies interesting but there are enough of them that have shown up on TCM that I can't remember which ones I've seen and which I haven't. This one was made for Ice Station Zebra and focuses on John M. Stephens, whom TCM's brief synopsis lists as a "second unit/stunt photographer". (Note also that the TCM synopsis misspells his name as "Stevens".) According to IMDb, Stephens is only credited on Ice Station Zebra for "additional Arctic photography", but to be fair, that is second unit stuff. The TCM synopsis also suggests this short talks about Grand Prix, on which Stephens is credited as "camera operator: second unit". In fact, most of Stephens' credits are as cinematogrpaher or camera department. But as we learned last January with Jack Cardiff, that's still a very important part of moviemaking.

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