Harris Savides: Acclaimed cinematographer


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The Independent Online

Harris Savides, who died on 10 October aged 55, was an acclaimed cinematographer who worked frequently with Gus Van Sant and David Fincher. Savides was known for vividly recreating the hues of 1970s cinema in films like Fincher's Zodiac, Ridley Scott's American Gangster and Sofia Coppola's Somewhere, and for mesmerisingly fluid, long takes with Van Sant in movies including Last Days, Elephant and Gerry. He was also the director of photography on Van Sant's more mainstream films, Finding Forrester and Milk. The last film he shot was Coppola's The Bling Ring, based on the true story of Los Angeles teens who burglarized celebrities' homes, which is due out next year.

Savides, who had initially intended to be a fashion photographer, also shot several influential music videos in the mid-1990s. He often worked with director Mark Romanek on clips including Michael and Janet Jackson's famously expensive, black-and-white "Scream," Nine Inch Nails' intentionally damaged and distorted "Closer" and Madonna's radiant "Rain."

He eschewed a strong visual style of his own, and said that as he got older he became less intersted in visuals that distracted from the narrative. "I'm always wary of making things too beautifulk and too photographic," he said. "Some of the most beautiful films I've seen haven't been very good."

Savides was born in 1957 in Manhattan, the only child of Cypriot immigrants, and grew up in the Bronx, attending a military academy in Virginia. "A beautiful and incredibly amusing man, Harris taught me so much about the meaning of real beauty and the power of simplicity," said Romanek, director of One Hour Photo and Never Let Me Go who had known Savides for 22 years.

Coppola said: "I learned so much about film-making from him and we have his beautiful work to remember him by. He was a great artist and a great man. He will always inspire those of us who worked with him to do our best."