Episode 65: Ordinary People (1980)

Now Playing: Ordinary People (1980) / John Bailey, ASC

40 minutes | audio


John Bailey, ASC, cinematographer

Jim Hemphill, host

Cinematographer John Bailey, ASC, discusses his work on the acclaimed drama Ordinary People, which marked Robert Redford’s directing debut and was one of Bailey’s earliest feature credits. Bailey discusses how Redford, then at the peak of his acting career, came to choose him for the project, how the seemingly disparate styles of Vittorio Storaro and Gordon Willis influenced his work on the picture, and how he approached scenes in the most important set — a strategy that led, many years later, to his landing the job shooting In the Line of Fire for Wolfgang Petersen.


About the Project

Adapted from the novel by Judith Guest, Ordinary People follows the Jarrett family — parents Calvin and Beth (Donald Sutherland and Mary Tyler Moore) and their son, Conrad (Timothy Hutton) — as they struggle to find their footing in the aftermath of a fatal accident. Ordinary People won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor (Hutton) and Best Adapted Screenplay (Alvin Sargent).

About the Cinematographer

Born in Moberly, Mo., John Bailey is known for his work on Groundhog Day, As Good As It Gets, In the Line of Fire, Living Out Loud, The Accidental Tourist, Silverado, The Big Chill, Mishima: A Life in Four Chapters and American Gigolo. His documentary credits include The Kid Stays in the Picture, A Brief History of Time and Michael Jordan to the Max. He is the recipient of this year’s ASC Lifetime Achievement Award, a member of the ASC Board of Governors, and a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences Board of Governors. He also writes a blog, John’s Bailiwick, on the ASC website.

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