DAVID MYERS

 

Born: 8 May 1914, Auburn, New York, USA.

Died: 26 August 2004, Marin County, Calif., USA.

Career: Started as still ph after seeing the work of Walker Evans in an exhibition at the New York Museum of Modern Art in 1938. [Myers: 'Evans' photographs were distillations of the feelings and spirit of the times. They were cool but compassionate, a moral analysis of America in the Depression. Those two elements in Evans still turn me on: the ability to look at ordinary surroundings and people in ordinary surroundings, and distill the meaning from it.']

While working in an Antioch College student work program with the Farm Security Administration in Washington, he shot a photo essay on federal civil servants. When the USA entered World War II in 1941, he declared himself a conscientious objector. He was put to work planting trees for the US Forest Service, then worked at a mental hospital in Spokane, Washington, where he photographed incoming patients. After the war, he continued his career as a still ph until 1954 when one of his friends, the ph Imogen Cunningham, was asked to make a short film, and told the producers that she would not make it without Myers, thus starting his career in movies. He quickly displayed a unique flair for capturing real-life events on film, and in the 1960s he was considered one of the pioneers of the cinéma vérité movement. Also made doc's all over the world for the United Nations and the National Geographic Society. Co-ph Richard Nixon's presidential campaign [1968].

Appeared in the doc's 'Bald: The Making of 'THX 1138'' [2003, George Lucas] & 'Artifact from the Future: The Making of 'THX 1138'' [2003, Gary Leva].

Awards: Mill Valley Creative Achievement Award [1998].


Obituary: David Myers, a cinematographer who was best-known for his camera work on landmark concert documentaries such as 'Woodstock', 'Elvis on Tour' and 'The Grateful Dead Movie', has died. He was 90.

Myers, a longtime resident of Mill Valley in the Bay Area, died of natural causes Aug. 26 in a Marin County hospital after suffering a stroke a week earlier, said Bruce Cannon, his nephew.

Before moving into concert documentaries and feature films, Myers was at the forefront of cinéma vérité documentary filmmaking in the 1960s. He also traveled the world for United Nations and National Geographic documentaries and was part of the team that shot the Oscar-winning 1972 documentary 'Marjoe', about onetime child evangelist Marjoe Gortner.

Starting with 'Woodstock', Myers began amassing a string of music and concert movie and TV credits, including the Joe Cocker/Leon Russell rockumentary 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen', 'Wattstax', 'Johnny Cash in San Quentin' and 'Willie Nelson's 4th of July Celebration'.

'There was nobody who captured the essence of rock 'n' roll and music more than Dave Myers,' Mark Fishkin, director of the California Film Institute, told 'The Times' on Wednesday. 'The way he filmed, moving around with the camera on his shoulder, was like a dance, and that was epitomized by such fantastic concert movies as 'Woodstock', 'The Last Waltz', Neil Young's films and 'Renaldo and Clara',' said Fishkin, a longtime friend.

Myers was part of a team of cameramen who worked on 'Woodstock', the film about the legendary outdoor rock festival for which he provided memorable comic relief in what is now viewed as a classic documentary sequence.

As the concert continued on stage, the then-55-year-old Myers trained his camera on a middle-aged man pumping out one of the Port-O-San portable toilets and talking about his children - one was at the festival and another was serving in Vietnam. The sequence ends after a hippie comes out of one of the portable toilets smoking a joint. When the hippie asks the filmmakers what they're doing, Myers tells him they're making a movie.

'What are you going to call it?,' the hippie asks.

'Port-O-San,' replies Myers.

That quick response was a classic example of Myers' sense of humor and 'ability to relate to people,' film producer L.A. Johnson, who was Myers' sound man on 'Woodstock', told 'The Times' on Wednesday.

'Woodstock' director Michael Wadleigh also cited the Port-O-San sequence, saying it was 'the sort of apotheosis of David.' 'You can hear in real time the man's mind and camera clicking,' Wadleigh said.

Wadleigh, who also worked with Myers on other films, praised him as 'incredibly idiosyncratic, intelligent, inventive and creative.'

Johnson, who began working with Myers on a 1968 documentary about a student revolt at the University of Connecticut, called him 'just a great documentary cameraman.' 'He had the ability to draw in the subject matter and let the equipment disappear,' Johnson said. 'People in the business revered David.'

Myers began his motion picture career in 1954 via his friend, famous photographer Imogen Cunningham, who told the backers of a short film that she wouldn't make it without him.

Myers is survived by his wife, Barbara, a retired painter; and a sister, Barbara Rahn of Toronto, Canada. [From obituary by Dennis McLellan in the Los Angeles Times, September 2, 2004.]


 

 FILMS

1954

? [Imogen Cunningham] ?; short/?m

1957

Ansel Adams - photographer [David Myers] 16mm/b&w; doc/21m; addph: Joseph P. Dieves

1960

Ask Me - Don't Tell Me [- a Film About Youth for Service] [David Myers] 16mm/b&w; educational doc/22m; + prod/co-commentary

1962

Harvest [Willard Van Dyke] c; doc/27m; + ed; prod Rockefeller Foundation

1962

In a Dark Time - A Film About Theodore Roethke [David Myers] 16mm/b&w; doc/26m

1967

Uncle Yanco/Oncle Yanco [Agnès Varda] c; doc/22m; cph: Didier Tarot

1968

Black Panthers/Huey [Agnès Varda] 16mm/c; doc/27m; cph: A. Varda, Michel Hugo & John Schofill

1969

Woodstock/Woodstock - 3 Days of Peace & Music [Michael Wadleigh] 16mm-35bu/c; doc + mus perf/184m & 228m; cph: M. Wadleigh, Richard Pearce, Don Lenzer & Al Wertheimer; addph: Ed Lynch, Ted Churchill, Stan Warnow, Richard Chew, a.o.; filmed 15-18 August (Bethel, New York); footage used in e.g. 'Woodstock Diary (Saturday)' (1969, Chris Hegedus, Erez Laufer & D.A. Pennebaker; 56m)

1969

THX 1138 [George Lucas] ts/c; cph: Albert Kihn; addph: Caleb Deschanel; also director's cut (2004); based on the short film 'Electronic Labyrinth: THX-1138 4EB' (1967; 15m; ph: F.E. Zip Zimmerman) made at USC

1970

[Joe Cocker:] Mad Dogs & Englishmen [Robert Abel, Pierre Adidge & Sid Levin] MegaScope/c; concert film/117m; addph: John Bailey, John Alonzo, Stephen Lighthill, Erik Daarstad, a.o.; filmed 27-28 March (New York)

1971

Soul to Soul [Denis Sanders] tao/c; concert film/96m; cph: Erik Daarstad, Vilmos Zsigmond, Robert Thomas, a.o.; filmed 6 March (Ghana)

1971

Bushman [David Schickele] b&w; doc/75m

1972

Marjoe [Sarah Kernochan & Howard Smith] 16mm-35bu/b&w-c; doc/88m; cph: Ed Lynch, Richard Pearce, Kenneth Van Sickle & Mike Shea

1972

Elvis on Tour [Robert Abel & Pierre Adidge] MegaScope/c; mus doc/93m; co-photographed by (c.op): Erik Daarstad, Fritz Roland, Steve Larner, a.o.; ph: Robert Thomas; filmed April

1972

American Graffiti [George Lucas] turned down assignment because he was going to be out of the country; ph: Haskell Wexler (visual cons/superv ph), Jan D'Alquen & Ron Eveslage

1972

Wattstax [Mel Stuart] 16mm-35bu/c; mus doc/103m; uncred ph (?); ph: Roderick Young, Larry Clark, José Mignone & Robert Marks; concert ph: John Alonzo (doph), Joe Wilcotts, David Blewitt, a.o.; filmed 20 August (Los Angeles); restored in 2003

1972

Save the Children/Brothers and Sisters in Concert [Stan Lathan] b&w-c; mus doc/123m; cph: Charles Blackwell, Bob Fletcher, Robert Grant & Doug Harris

1972

Let the Good Times Roll [Sid Levin & Robert Abel] b&w-c; doc + concert film/99m; co-ph by; ph (doph): Robert Thomas

1973

The Hero Cop: Yesterday and Today [Ronald Saland] c; doc/8m; cph: Marcel Broekman

1974

Up from the Ape/The Primal Man/The Animal Within [Walon Green & Mel Stuart] c; doc/84m; cph: Albert Kihn; addph: Gilbert Hubbs, David Oyster & José Mignone; as David Meyers

1974

Journey Through the Past [Neil Young] b&w-c; mus doc/79m

1974

The Grateful Dead/The Grateful Dead Movie [Leon Gast (loc dir) & Jerry Garcia (editorial dir)] 16mm-35bu/c; anim (by Gary Gutierrez) + concert film/133m; cph: Jonathan Else, Albert Maysles, Robert Primes, Thomas D. Hurwitz, a.o.; filmed 16-20 October (San Francisco); released 1977; restored 2004

1975

Bound for Glory [Hal Ashby] p/c; uncred doc ph; ph: Haskell Wexler

1975

Renaldo and Clara [Bob Dylan] c; 235m (originally 292m); cph: Paul Goldsmith & Howard Alk; addph: Michael Levine; filmed 1975-76; released 1977; incl footage shot during the 'Rolling Thunder Revue' tour (1975; ph: Albert Maysles)

1975

The Mysterious Monsters/Bigfoot: The Mysterious Monster [Robert Guenette] c; doc/90m; cph: Tony Coggans & Erik Daarstad (as Eric Daarstadt)

1976

Harry Callahan - Clint Eastwood: Something Special in Films [Ronald Saland] c; promotional doc/6m; cph: Marcel Broekman

1976

Welcome to L.A. [Alan Rudolph] c

1976

The Last Waltz [Martin Scorsese] c; interv + concert film/115m; co-addph; ph: Michael Chapman; concert filmed 25 November (San Francisco)

1977

FM/Citizens' Band [John Alonzo] p/c

1978

The Rose [Mark Rydell] c; co-addph concert scenes; ph: Vilmos Zsigmond

1978

Willie Nelson's 4th of July Celebration [Werner Brandt] 35mm+16mm-to-35mm scope/c; mus doc/100m; shot in 35mm 3-D SpaceVision (+ 16mm flat), but released in flat version

1978

The Secret Life of Plants [Walon Green] p/c; doc/98m; cph: Ghislain Cloquet, Mike Hoover, Daniel Pearl, Robert Primes, Robin Lehman, a.o.; natural history ph: Ken Middleham

1978

Human Highway [Bernard Shakey (= Neil Young) & Dean Stockwell] 16mm+35mm-to-35mm/c; released 1982

1978

Rust Never Sleeps [Bernard Shakey (= Neil Young)] c; concert film/103m; cph: Jon Else, Paul Goldsmith, Daniel Pearl, Robbie Greenberg, Hiro Narita, Richard Pearce & Larry A. Johnson

1978

Sammy Stops the World/Stop the World, I Want to Get Off [Mel Shapiro] c

1979

Die Laughing [Jeff Werner] c; addph: Charles Correll

1979

Roadie [Alan Rudolph] p/c; addph: George Bouillet

1979

Shadows and Light - by Joni Mitchell [Joni Mitchell] b&w-c; feature film seq + mus perf/73m; addph: Pat Darrin, Paul Goldsmith & Daniel Pearl; + co-c.op; filmed September (Santa Barbara)

1981

Zoot Suit [Luis Valdez] c

1981

UFOria [John Binder] c; aph: David Nowell; released 1985

1981

The Black Stallion Returns [Robert Dalva] c; co-addph; ph: Carlo Di Palma

1982

Gospel [David Leivick & Frederick Ritzenberg] c; mus doc/92m; see 1987

1982

Computers: Tools for People [Gary Goldsmith] c; doc/24m

1983

Deadly Force [Paul Aaron] c; cph: Norman Leigh & Jon Kranhouse

1984

The River Rat [Tom Rickman] c; co-2uc; ph: Jan Kiesser

1985

Stripper [Jerome Gary] c; doc/90m; co-addph; ph: Ed Lachman

1985

Wham! in China: Foreign Skies [Lindsay Anderson (+ Strathford Hamilton & Andy Morahan)] c; mus doc/60m; cph: Peter Mackay, Lee Kenower, Paul Goldsmith, Alvin Allen & Dennis Smith; L. Anderson was removed from the prod in October and edited his own version, 'If You Were There' (unreleased)

1985

Louie Bluie [Terry Zwigoff] c; mus doc/61m; co-addph; ph: John Knoop & Chris Li

1985

Hard Traveling [Dan Bessie] c

1987

Oh Happy Day [David Leivick & Frederick Ritzenberg] c; mus doc/60m; ed from outtakes of 'Gospel'; see 1982

1987

Heat and Sunlight [Rob Nilsson] b&w; co-addph; ph: Tomas Tucker

1988

The Changing Faces of Dentistry [Barbara Gullahorn Holecek] b&w-c; comm doc/60m; cph: Christine Burrill, Barry Ackroyd, Boyd Estus & Mihai Chebac; prod American Fund for Dental Health

1988

Comic Book Confidential [Ron Mann] c; doc/90m; co-addph; ph: Robert Fresco & Joan Churchill

1990

Through the Wire [Nina Rosenblum] c; doc/77m; co-addph; ph: Nancy Schreiber

1999

Jimi Hendrix: Live at Woodstock [Chris Hegedus & Erez Laufer] c/V; mus doc/57m; cph: (see 'Woodstock', 1969); filmed 1969

 

 TELEVISION

1962

Story of a Country Doctor [Stan Atkinson] doc/?m; ep series 'Story of...'; as David Meyers

1968

Diary of a Student Revolution [prod: Morton Silverstein & Barbara Gordon] doc/b&w/59m/16mm; cph: Michael Wadleigh (as Michael Wadley), John Steinberg & Jerry Cotts; filmed December; ep series 'NET journal'

1969

Johnny Cash in San Quentin [Michael Darlow] doc + mus perf/60m; cph: David Wood, Ray Goode & Roy Nolan; filmed 24 February

1971

Justice? [Stan Lathan] doc/b&w-c/59m; cph: Roland Mitchell & Steve Lighthill; ep #32 of 'Black Journal'-series

1973

Journey to the Outer Limits [Alex Grasshoff] doc/52m; cph: Mike Hoover; addph: Tom Frost, Charles Groesbeck & Rick Robertson; a 'National Geographic Special'; as David Meyers

1973

Big Cats [Jeri Sopanen & Paul Boorstin] doc/?m; co-addph; ph: André Gunn, Albert Kihn & J. Sopanen; a 'National Geographic Special'

1973

The Human Factor [Alex Grasshoff & Dennis Azzarella] doc/?m; cph: Albert Kihn & Stanley M. Lazan; addph: Jeri Sopanen; a 'Primal Man Special'

1973

The Yanks Are Coming [Ed Spiegel] docudrama/b&w/60m; ep 'The American Heritage'-series; for ABC-tv (1974)

1974

Cracked Actor: A Film About David Bowie [Alan Yentob] doc/53m; cph: Michael Murphy; ep BBC1-tv arts doc series 'Omnibus'

1976

Voyage of the Hokule'a [prod: Dale Bell] doc/45m; co-addph; ph: Norris Brock; a 'National Geographic Special'

1976

Hard Rain [Howard Alk] mus special (with Bob Dylan)/54m; cph: H. Alk, Paul Goldsmith, L.A. Johnson & Ron Sheldon; filmed 23 May (Hughes Stadium, Fort Collins, Colorado); for NBC-tv

1976

The Man with No Name [prod: Iain Johnstone] doc (on Clint Eastwood)/60m; uncred (?); ph: Bryan Anderson; for BBC1-tv (1977)

1977

Jane Fonda [Michael Barnes] doc/50m; for BBC1-tv (1978)

1977

The Making of 'Star Wars' [Robert Guenette] doc/60m; cph: Peter Shillingford

1977

Forever [John Korty] tvm

1978

...and your name is Jonah [Richard Michaels] tvm; ph New York: Sol Negrin

1978

No Other Love [Richard Pearce] tvm

1983

The Mind of a Murderer [Michael Barnes] 2-part ('The Case of the Hillside Strangler' [60m] & 'The Mask of Madness' [65m]) doc; cph: Peter Chapman, Rick Robertson, John W. Seale, a.o.; ep BBC2-tv doc series 'Horizon' (1984); in USA 2-part ep PBS-tv series 'Frontline' (1984)

1984

Life or Death in the Emergency Room [Robert Markowitz] doc/53m/16mm; cph: Christine Burrill; ep HBO-tv doc series 'America Undercover'

1984

Partners in Crime/50-50 [various] 13-part series; other ph: William Cronjager & Randall Robinson; for NBC-tv

1989

Gary Cooper: American Life, American Legend [Richard Schickel] doc/b&w-c/47m

1994

The History of Rock 'n' Roll [Andrew Solt, a.o.] 10-part mus doc series, 1995; other ph: Ralf Bode, Judy Irola, Claudia Raschke, Stephen Lighthill, a.o.

 

 MISCELLANEOUS [director - visual cons - c.op]

1957

Ansel Adams - photographer [dir; + ph] see Films

1960

Ask Me - Don't Tell Me [- a Film About Youth for Service] [dir; + prod/co-commentary/ph] see Films

 

 

1962

In a Dark Time - A Film About Theodore Roethke [dir; + ph] see Films

1976

Rockshow/Wings Over America [(uncred) Paul McCartney; concert film] co-cameraman (c.op); ph: Jack Priestley; filmed May/June (USA); released 1980; restored in 2013; also version for CBS-tv as 'Wings Over the World' (1978)

1987

The Telephone [Rip Torn] c; visual cons; ph: David Claessen

1987

Tom Waits - Big Time [Chris Blum; mus perf] co-c.op; ph (+ co-c.op): Daniel Hainey; filmed November (San Francisco & Los Angeles)