#1: Photo by zlin.cz

#2: [Left] with dir Milos Forman - photo by Josef Janousek





Born: 4 November 1934, Prague, Czechoslovakia [now Czech Republic].

Died: 28 March 2015, Prague, Czech Republic.

Education: FAMU [evening classes for 4 years], Prague.

Career: Started as laboratory technician at Barrandov Film Studio [1950-53]. Became c.asst with the Documentary Film Unit [1953-56].

Was asked to ph George Roy Hill's 'The Sting' and Milos Forman's 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest', but he wasn't allowed to travel outside Czechoslovakia.

Was a member of the AČK and the ASC [1980-2015].

His son David [1969-] is a film director.

Appeared in the doc's 'About The White Bus' [1968, John Fletcher], 'Kids from FAMU' [1990, Paul Pawlikowski; 45m], 'Vidím svet jako bílý autobus/I See the World as a White Bus' [1995, Milos Smídmajer], 'Povolání kameraman/Profession: Cinematographer' [1996, Milos Smídmajer] & 'Portrét Miroslava Ondříčka' [2006, Jan Foukal; ph: Jan Suster; 7m].

Awards: 'Oscar' AA nom [1982] for 'Ragtime'; 'Oscar' AA nom [1985], BSC Award nom [1985] & BAFTA Film Award [1986] for 'Amadeus'; Czech 'Lion Award' [1999]; Manaki Brothers IFF 'Golden Camera 300 for Lifetime Achievement' [2001]; ASC International Achievement Award [2004]; Karlovy Vary IFF 'Special Prize' [2004] for Outstanding Contribution to World Cinema; Plus Camerimage Special Award for Immense Contribution to the Art of Cinematography [2007].

[Right] with Milos Forman [looking through camera] - "Taking Off" [1970]

Photo Thys Ockersen Archive


'After graduating from high school, Miroslav Ondrícek sought employment at Barrandov Film Studio, which had been built in the year of his birth. Ondrícek was given an apprentice position in the laboratory, where he gained knowledge about chemistry and film emulsion that would be crucial to his later success. In 1948, the Communists took power in Czechoslovakia and the film studio was nationalized. Ondrícek was an employee of the state. "What I learned then about the chemical processes behind the development of film is as important as all the technical lessons I have learned since," he says.

Later, Ondrícek became an assistant on documentary film crews that produced newsreels for theaters. Between documentaries, he attended the film school at FAMU, the Prague Film School, where he learned about the history and culture of cinema and filmmaking techniques. In 1955, Ondrícek was promoted to the feature film division, where he continued to work as a camera assistant.

"The most important aspect of my development at that point was the opportunity I had to work as an assistant with the great directors of photography of that era," says Ondrícek. "Jaroslav Kucera and Jan Curik - these men were the pillars of cinematography. I gained a tremendous amount of experience through observing and working with them. Each of them had a distinctive vision of what cinematography is, and I was able to recognize and learn from each of those visions."

When Soviet tanks rolled into Ondrícek's homeland to crush the Prague Spring, he continued his career in England and began an association with Lindsay Anderson. ['Lindsay came to Prague having attended the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. He went there with his first movie, 'This Sporting Life' and the Czech government gave him a schedule. So he came to the studios. He visited us while we were filming 'Lásky jedné plavovlásky' with Milos. He planned to stay only one day, but he stayed with us a whole week. He played billiards with us and drank beer. We changed our schedule. One day we were shooting, the next we were together the whole day. So he asked me: "Can you come to London and make a movie with me?", and I said OK and goodbye.']

Ondrícek's career began to gain momentum. He gained a reputation for being easygoing on the set, yet intensely creative and collaborative. In 1970, Ondrícek joined Forman in New York, where they filmed 'Taking Off'. The next year, he collaborated with George Roy Hill on 'Slaughterhouse-Five'. […] Of the transition to working in the United States, he says, "I never felt I needed to study or work to change my ways to make films in America or Hollywood. A person can have the American feel even if he or she is born in Warsaw or Moscow or Prague. It has more to do with the way a person thinks, the way you express freedom in how you approach life. It's a combination of this free spirit, for lack of a better term, and the willingness to work hard. That's what I appreciate and love about America. You don't have to be born there to think like that."

Over the course of his career, Ondrícek has seen the filmmaking process evolve, and he fears that technological advances have hampered creativity as much as they have helped. "When we started, the creation of the film was done basically by one pair of eyes," he says. "Today the process is directed and affected and influenced by hundreds of different contributors. You have a tremendous amount of technical tricks. The creative process is in danger of being diluted by so many hands. The imprint of one person who brings a certain style is often completely lost. Cinematography can be lost in the breakneck speed of editing, too. In films like this, people do not have time to truly comprehend our art. The story must be the basis for everything a cinematographer does," he says. "If it is to be art, aesthetic photography is not enough. I like it when films play with the emotions, when they address the self. My generation of photographers broke new ground in cinematography, by drawing films out into reality. This required a new kind of light. We knew that poetry cannot come from something artificially created, and we attempted to bring this lesson to the screen." [From article by David Heuring on the KODAK OnFilm website.]



Konkurs/Audition/Competition [seg #1 'Kdyby ty muziky nebyly/Why Do We Need All the Brass Bands?/If It Weren't for Music' dir by Milos Forman] 16mm/b&w; seg #2 ph by Karel Hejsek




Lásky jedné plavovlásky/A Blonde in Love/The Loves of a Blonde [Milos Forman] b&w


Intimní osvetlení/Intimate Lighting [Ivan Passer] b&w; cph: Josef Strecha


The White Bus [Lindsay Anderson] b&w-c; short/41m; intended as seg of 'Red White and Zero'


Mucedníci lásky/Martyrs of Love [Jan Nemec] b&w; 3 seg


Horí, má panenko!/The Firemen's Ball/Like a House on Fire [Milos Forman] c; 2uc: Eduard Kaderábek


? - MO - Chris Menges - "if...."



if.... [Lindsay Anderson] b&w-c


Le corps de Diane/Diane's Body/Telo Diany [Jean-Louis Richard] c


Taking Off [Milos Forman] c


Slaughterhouse-Five [George Roy Hill] c; spec ph cons: Enzo A. Martinelli


Homolka a tobolka [Jaroslav Papousek] c


O Lucky Man! [Lindsay Anderson] c


Drahé tety a já/My Dear Aunt and Me [Zdenek Podskalský] c


Televize v Bublicích aneb Bublice v televizi/Television in Bublicich [Jaroslav Papousek] b&w


Hriste/The Playground [Stepán Skalský] c


Zaklete rewiry/Hotel Pacific/Dvoji svet hotelu Pacifik [Janusz Majewski] c


Konecne si rozumíme/At Last We Understand Each Other [Jaroslav Papousek] c


Jakub [Ota Koval & Jaroslava Vosmikova] c


Príbeh lásky a cti/A Story of Love and Honour [Otakar Vávra] c


Hair [Milos Forman] p/c; cph: Richard Kratina & Jean Talvin; 2uc: Gerald Cotts; addph: Richard Pearce


Nechci nic slyset/Leave Me Alone [Ota Koval] c


Bozská Ema/The Divine Emma [Jirí Krejcík] c


Temné slunce/Cerne slunce/Dark Sun [Otakar Vávra] c; cph: Josef Illik & Zdenek Prchlík (Ondrícek got injured during the shooting and didn't finish the film)


Ragtime [Milos Forman] tao/c; process ph: Charles D. Staffell


The World According to Garp [George Roy Hill] c


Silkwood [Mike Nichols] c; 2uc: Don Reddy; spph: Mary Ellen Mark


[Right] with Milos Forman [center] & prod Saul Zaentz - "Amadeus"



Amadeus [Milos Forman] p (+ 70bu)/c; 160m; see 2002


Heaven Help Us/Catholic Boys [Michael Dinner] c


F/X [Robert Mandel] c; 2uc: Tom Priestley Jr.


Distant Harmony - Pavarotti in China [DeWitt Sage] c; doc/85m; cph: Richard Gordon


Big Shots [Robert Mandel] p/c


Funny Farm [George Roy Hill] c; 2uc: Richard Kratina


Valmont [Milos Forman] p/c


Awakenings [Penny Marshall] c


A League of Their Own [Penny Marshall] p/c; addph (= 1st unit doph for six weeks replacing M. Ondrícek, who was ill): Tom (as Thomas) Priestley Jr.


Let It Be Me/Love Dance [Eleanor Bergstein] c; addph: Tony Jannelli


The Preacher's Wife [Penny Marshall] c; remake of 'The Bishop's Wife' (1947, Henry Koster; ph: Gregg Toland)


?/Brothers Masin [Ivan Passer] ?


Riding in Cars with Boys [Penny Marshall] c; special thanks: Chris Menges; optical ph: Mark Sawicki


Amadeus - The Director's Cut [Milos Forman] p/c; 180m; see 1983




Prag legende/Prazska legenda/Prague Legend [?] ?


Co nikdy nepochopím.../What Never Fails... [Ján Rohác] mus special (5 songs)/b&w/29m


Pet písní pro Zoru Kolínskou [Ján Rohác] mus special/?m


Slovácká suita/Slovakian Suite [?] ?


Antonín Dvorák: Symfonie č. 9 e-moll, op. 95 'Z nového světa' [Vladimír Sís] mus special/41m




Váhavý strelec/The Hesitant Sniper/The Reluctant Marksman [Ivo Toman] co-c.asst; ph: Jan Curík


Snadný zivot/Easy Life [Milos Makovec] co-c.asst; ph: Jaroslav Tuzar


Konec jasnovidce/The End of the Fortune-Teller [Ján Rohác & Vladimír Svitácek] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Tuzar


Zde jsou lvi/Here Are Lions [Václav Krska] co-c.asst; ph: Jaroslav Tuzar


Dnes naposled/Today for the Last Time [Martin Fric] co-c.asst; ph: Jaroslav Tuzar


Cesta zpátky/The Way Back [Václav Krska] co-c.asst; ph: Jaroslav Tuzar


Holubice/The White Dove [Frantisek Vlácil] co-c.asst; ph: Jan Curík


Kouzelný den/An Enchanted Day [Jan Valásek] co-c.asst; ph: Alois Jirácek


Králíci ve vysoké tráve/Rabbits in the Tall Grass [Václav Gajer] 2nd c.op; ph: Jirí Vojta


Destivý den/A Day of Rain [Jirí Belka; short] co-c.asst; ph: Jaroslav Kucera


Strevícky/The Golden Shoes [Miroslav Ondrícek; tvm/b&w/?m] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Kucera


Krik/The [First] Cry [Jaromil Jires] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Kucera


Az pridje kocour/That Cat [Vojtech Jasný] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Kucera


Démanty noci/Diamonds of the Night [Jan Nemec] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Kucera


Perlicky na dne/Pearls of the Deep [Jan Nemec, Evald Schorm, Jirí Menzel, Vera Chytilová & Jaromil Jires] 2nd c.op; ph: Jaroslav Kucera




Strevícky/The Golden Shoes [dir; + 2nd c.op] see Films & Television as Camera Assistant/Operator


Samotári/Loners [David Ondrícek] co-thanks; ph: Richard Rericha