- TORUN, Poland
Cinematographer John Bailey, ASC--whose work includes Ordinary People, American Gigolo and The Big Chill--will receive the Camerimage Lifetime Achievement Award at the 27th edition of the Festival held in Toruń, Poland, November 9-16.
Bailey’s first professional assignments date from the late 1960s and include working in postproduction for American Airlines’ promotional films as well as assisting such cinematographers as Charles Correll, Erik Daarstad, John Koester, and Gary Young. Throughout the 1970s Bailey apprenticed as an assistant and operator for such Hollywood legends as Néstor Almendros, Jules Brenner, Dave Meyers, Chuck Rosher, Gregory Sandor, Ric Waite and Vilmos Zsigmond. As a result, by the mid-1970s, Bailey had the chance to work on such productions, including Monte Hellman’s Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), the Emergency! (1974) and Kojak (1975) TV series, as well as Terrence Malik’s Days of Heaven (1976) and Robert Altman’s 3 Women (1977).
A few years later Bailey became the DP for such noted films as director Michael Pressman’s Boulevard Nights (1978) and Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo (1980). In the 1980s and 1990s Bailey’s collaboration with Schrader extended into Cat People (1981), Mishima (1984), Light of Day (1986), and Forever Mine (1999).
In 1980 Bailey teamed up with Robert Redford on the iconic Ordinary People and shortly thereafter worked on Honky Tonk Freeway with John Schlesinger. Other directors who became Bailey’s partners on numerous projects included Lawrence Kasdan (The Big Chill, 1982; Silverado, 1984; The Accidental Tourist, 1988), Michael Apted (Continental Divide, 1980; Extreme Measures, 1996; Always Outnumbered, 1997) and Ken Kwapis (Vibes, 1987; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, 2004; License to Wed, 2006; He’s Just Not That Into You, 2007; Big Miracle, 2010; and A Walk in the Woods, 2014). Bailey’s long and distinguished list of credits also includes Gene Saks’ Brighton Beach Memoirs (1985), Norman Mailer’s Tough Guys Don’t Dance (1986), Harold Ramis’ Groundhog Day (1992), Wolfgang Petersen’s In the Line of Fire (1992), and Peter Howitt’s Antitrust (2000).
Complementing Bailey’s work as a cinematographer are his directorial endeavors which include The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe (a 1990 film of Lily Tomlin’s one-woman show), China Moon (a 1994 crime mystery with Ed Harris, Madeleine Stowe and the first big role for Benicio del Toro) and Mariette in Ecstasy (a 1996 adaptation of Ron Hansen’s novel about a young nun with a stellar cast of Geraldine O’Rawe, Eva Marie Saint, Rutger Hauer, Mary McDonnell, and John Mahoney).
A member of the American Society of Cinematographers since 1985, Bailey has been an active and vocal member of the society. Posted under the “John’s Bailiwick” tab, Bailey’s stylishly written blogs grace the ASC website and cover a wide area of topics not only centered on film and cinematic history but also covering music, literature, history and the arts. In 1972 Bailey married film editor Carol Littleton; they have resided in Los Angeles ever since.
Bailey’s 15 years as an Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences governor include his most recent service as the Academy’s president from 2017-2019.
Bailey’s professional achievements have been recognized with numerous honors such as a 1988 Film Independent Spirit Awards nomination for Best Cinematography in recognition of Tough Guys Don’t Dance. Bailey won the 1999 Camerimage Film Festival Golden Frog for Forever Mine. He is also the winner of the 1994 CableACE Award for The Search for Signs of Intelligent Life in the Universe, the 2001 Society of Camera Operators President’s Award, the 2014 William A. Fraker Cinematography Journalist of the Year Award, the 2015 ASC Lifetime Achievement Award, the 2018 Society of Camera Operators Governors’ Award, and the 2019 Gianni di Venanzo Award. Recently the French government bestowed upon him distinction as an Officer of the Order of Arts and Letters.