Gary Graver down under
To all you Welles aficionados down in Australia, Gary Graver will be showing his highly recommended program of rare Welles material at the Celebration of Cinematography Festival in Canberra this weekend. More details are in this article in the Sydney Morning Herald:
And here's an excerpt from an interview with
LAWRENCE FRENCH: How did you first meet Orson Welles?
GARY GRAVER: It was very simple. I just called Orson up. I had been in a combat camera group in Viet Nam, and when I came out of the army, I started working on a lot of exploitation films like Dracula Vs. Frankenstein, but I was really a sort of film snob. Then one day I was at Schwabs, and I read in Variety that Orson Welles was at the Beverly Hills Hotel. I called the Hotel, and they put me right through to Orson's room. I explained who I was, and he said, "I'm leaving for New York in a few days, but give me your name and phone number." So I went home, and right as I was coming in, I got a phone call from Orson. He said, "Gary get over here right away. Beverly Hills Hotel, bungalow 104." I drove over there, and I was very nervous, but suddenly, just like that I was sitting with Orson Welles. He said, "I've been looking for an American cameraman to work with," and we started talking. He said, your only the second cameraman whose ever called and asked to work with me. The first was Gregg Toland (who shot Citizen Kane for Welles).
I always knew after I saw Touch Of Evil if I ever met Orson Welles, I would get along with him, and we got along just great. So we were talking for a while, and then all of a sudden he grabbed me by the back of the neck and held me down on the floor. He was pushing me down on my hands and knees, almost on top of me. I thought, "Jesus, what have I gotten myself into." Then he whispered to me, "stay down, stay down." While this was going on, all the time he was looking out the window, but he wouldn't say what was wrong. Finally he got up, and said to me, "it's Ruth Gordon. She's been walking up and down in front of my window all day. If she sees me in here she'll want to come in and talk my head off." So that was our first meeting. Then, he left for New York, and when he came back we started doing some tests and a few weeks after that we started shooting The Other Side Of The Wind.
Starting to work for Orson I was very nervous. I would come and forget the head to the tripod, or I'd forget the film, and it took me about four days to get myself together. I think I was able to bring some useful things to Orson, like my knowledge of shooting without a big overhead, and I had a crew that was very good, and worked inexpensively. I also knew how to get a good lab deal, so Orson appreciated all those kinds of things. But what I didn't realize was that Orson works seven days a week, and we shot The Other Side Of The Wind on and off over five years. It was quite demanding, and I was married and divorced twice.