Michael Sagol, executive producer at Caviar, Los Angeles, recently informed us of the passing of cinematographer Stephen Blackman. We invited him to share his memories of the talented DP. Those who knew him, feel free to share your thoughts in the comments section below.Earlier this month I lost a friend, and this industry lost a legend. Director of Photography Stephen Blackman passed away from complications from a stoke that occurred several weeks before. He was 55 years old.
A truly talented DOP and a director in his own right, all those who worked with Stephen knew him as an inspiration, and his mark on the work he created is indelible. From Kleinman to Barber, Traktor to Wathion; Smuggler to Epoch to Slim to Rattling Stick; with an Emmy behind him in addition to many other notable awards, no one was calmer, more reflective, or as insightful behind the lens. It is one thing to idealize someone in their passing, but memories of Stephen require no altruistic praise or exaggeration.
"Anyone who knew Stephen knew him as a dear friend who spoke his heart, an ally in life and a true English Gentleman," Tom Weissferdt at Slim Pictures, longtime friend and collaborator with Stephen, said of him. "He was the real thing, one of the best directors of photography in the world and an inspiring human being. He will be greatly missed."
Lana Wilson, who represented Stephen at Radiant Artists, said, "Stephen was my client, friend and confidant for twelve years. His profession was the physical embodiment of his soul--A Man Of Light. He had an encyclopedic knowledge of cinema and loved and revered it as something that could change the world. His advice and continuing support over our many years of friendship were a cornerstone of my life."
Stephen loved foreign movies, was a dedicated motorhead with a whole stable of fast cars, loved racetracks, his dog Humbert, and lately long rowing sessions on the river Thames. He was a child of the world, with an English dad and a Spanish mother, grew up trilingual and travelled the world many times over throughout his long career. He had a love for the U.S.--especially California--his birthplace and home of his own father. In life Stephen was a strong defender of "keeping it simple" and he applied this motto to his work with a passion.
Blackie was much more than a colleague, he was a friend who taught me that films happen not only with impeccable skill but with kindness and an open heart. He had an ease about him to make a set a magical place to be. His original and witty sense of humor made working with him a pure joy. Every time someone would yell "Picture's up!" on set, you could be sure Stephen would retort with "And pants are down." And it worked every single time.
How do you say goodbye to a friend? You put on his favorite Dylan record, you have a nice meal and a good glass of wine, and you remember all the amazing times you shared with him.
Stephen leaves behind his daughter Catalina Blackman and his father Alan Blackman. We mourn with them and wish them well in this difficult time.See some of the spots Stephen worked on below: