Meticulous American director of several lush, visually striking films since the late 1970s who made a memorable feature debut with "The Black Stallion" (1979), an exquisitely crafted tale of the far-f...
Los Angeles, California, USA
|Fog City Mavericks||2007 2006 - 2007||Actor||n/a||20077|
|The Black Stallion||1980||Director||n/a||4|
|Never Cry Wolf||1983||Director||n/a||4|
|Fly Away Home||1996||Director||n/a||4|
|Nutcracker: The Motion Picture||1986||Director||n/a||4|
|Star Wars||1977||Camera Operator||camera operator 2nd unit||1|
|Worked as second unit camera operator on "Star Wars"|
|Spent childhood at Lake Tahoe where his father was a boat builder|
|Directed "Never Cry Wolf" starring Charles Martin Smith as a government researcher, sent to research the "menace" of wolves in the north|
|Spent a year building a catamaran|
|Directed "Duna" a film about an orphaned cheetah that becomes the best friend and pet of a young boy living in South Africa|
|Directed Matthew Modine and Jennifer Grey in "Wind"|
|Directed "Fly Away Home" starring Anna Paquin as a young girl who attempts to lead a flock of orphaned Canada Geese south by air|
|Saw three films that revolutionized his notions about film: Teinosuke Kinugasa's "Gate of Hell" (1953-Japan), Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" (1957-US), and Carl Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955-Denmark)|
|Made numerous short narratives and documentaries, often using animals as his "stars"|
|Enrolled in UCLA's film school in the early 1960s; same class as Francis Ford Coppola|
|Moved to Marin County, California at age 15 (date approximate)|
|Designed cars for a while after high school|
|Directed the feature production of "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture"|
|Feature film directing debut, "The Black Stallion", produced by Coppola|
|Produced a documentary entitled "Harvest" for the US Information Agency; nominated for an Academy Award|
|Enlisted in US Army; worked as a film cameraman while stationed in the South|
|Directed "Rodeo", a portrait of champion bull rider Larry Mahan|
Ballard's subsequent output has been disappointingly sparse. Six years elapsed before "Nutcracker: The Motion Picture" (1986), an ambitious film version of the Christmas 1983 Seattle production staged by Maurice Sendak and Kent Stowell. Ballard utilized Sendak's dreamy sets to bring out some of the psychosexual underpinnings of the ballet. Less successful was the sometimes frantic editing which some reviewers found too reminiscent of music videos. "Wind" (1992) was a ho-hum yacht racing yarn that boasted outstanding cinematography by John Toll. Ballard's affinity for the beauties and rigors of nature and weather were undiminished but the material and characters were unworthy.
Doubtlessly making "Wind" called upon elements of the filmmaker's childhood spent at Lake Tahoe where his father was a boat builder. Ballard himself spent a year after high school building a catamaran. He next enlisted in the Army where he served as a cameraman while stationed in the American South. During that period, Ballard saw three films that revolutionized his notions about film: Teinosuke Kinugasa's "Gate of Hell" (1953-Japan), Stanley Kubrick's "Paths of Glory" (1957-US), and Carl Dreyer's "Ordet" (1955-Denmark). Inspired, he enrolled in the UCLA film school in the early 1960s. There Ballard began making acclaimed short narratives and documentaries that usually starred animals. He was nominated for a Oscar as the producer of the documentary, "Harvest" (1967).
|University of California at Los Angeles|
|"Much of his (Ballard's) justly praised short pix, such as "Pigs", "The Perils of Priscilla", shot from a cat's p.o.v., and "Rodeo", have dealt with animals, and his sensitivity to the beautiful steed's grace of movement, nervous reactions to humans and even breathing rhythms is just one of the factors that lifts the picture far above standard works in this genre."
"Ballard's camera eye and powers of sequence conceptualization are manifestly extraordianary."
--From review of "The Black Stallion" in "Variety", October 17, 1979.
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