William A Fraker

Director of photography, Director, Producer
An elder statesman of cinematography traditionally trained in the old style of the Hollywood cameraman, William A Fraker successfully bridged the gap to the newer freedoms and technological innovations of modern cinema ... Read more »
Born: 09/28/1923 in Los Angeles, California, USA

Filmography

Camera, Film, & Tape (53)

The President's Analyst 2008 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Waking Up in Reno 2002 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Town & Country 2001 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Rules of Engagement 2000 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Vegas Vacation 1997 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Island of Dr. Moreau 1996 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Death in Small Doses 1994 - 1995 (TV Show)

Director of Photography

Father of the Bride Part II 1995 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Street Fighter 1994 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

There Goes My Baby 1994 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Tombstone 1993 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Honeymoon in Vegas 1992 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Memoirs of An Invisible Man 1992 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Freshman 1990 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

An Innocent Man 1989 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Chances Are 1989 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Frank's Place 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)

Director of Photography

Baby Boom 1987 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Burglar 1987 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Space Camp 1986 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Fever Pitch 1985 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Murphy's Romance 1985 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Irreconcilable Differences 1984 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Protocol 1984 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Wargames 1983 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas 1982 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Sharky's Machine 1981 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Divine Madness 1980 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Hollywood Knights 1980 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

1941 1979 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Old Boyfriends 1979 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

American Hot Wax 1978 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Heaven Can Wait 1978 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind 1977 (Movie)

director of photography of additional American scenes (Director of Photography)

Exorcist II: The Heretic 1977 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Looking For Mr. Goodbar 1977 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Lipstick 1976 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Aloha, Bobby And Rose 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Coonskin 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Gator 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Rancho Deluxe 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Killer Inside Me 1975 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Day of the Dolphin 1973 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Dusty and Sweets McGee 1971 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Paint Your Wagon 1969 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Bullitt 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Rosemary's Baby 1968 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Games 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

The Fox 1967 (Movie)

(Director of Photography)

Morituri 1965 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

Father Goose 1964 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

Wild Seed 1964 (Movie)

(Camera Operator)

Checkered Flag (TV Show)

Director of Photography
Director (5)

Walker, Texas Ranger 1993 - 1994 (Tv Show)

Director

The Dancer's Touch 1988 - 1989 (TV Show)

Director

The Legend of the Lone Ranger 1981 (Movie)

(Director)

A Reflection of Fear 1973 (Movie)

(Director)

Monte Walsh 1970 (Movie)

(Director)
Actor (3)

Cinematographer Style 2005 (Movie)

(Actor)

Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography 1993 (Movie)

Himself (Actor)

Dusty and Sweets McGee 1971 (Movie)

(Actor)
Producer (1)

Tombstone 1993 (Movie)

(Associate Producer)

Biography

An elder statesman of cinematography traditionally trained in the old style of the Hollywood cameraman, William A Fraker successfully bridged the gap to the newer freedoms and technological innovations of modern cinema, all the while actively campaigning to enhance the status of the director of photography within the industry power structure. His maternal grandmother, father and uncle had all worked as still photographers within the studio system, and he resolved at an early age to be a cameraman. After attending the University of Southern California's film school on the GI Bill and finding himself frozen out of The Camera Guild, Fraker scraped by as an editor at various television production companies and took non-union camera jobs shooting inserts and stock footage. He finally began as a loader in 1954 on the ABC series "The Lone Ranger" and subsequently spent over seven years on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (ABC), rising from second assistant to operator during that time. He has often expressed his appreciation for director-star Ozzie Nelson: "If there's any success I've achieved or will achieve, I attribute the major portion of it to Ozzie."

Once he became an operator, Fraker began his association with fellow USC alum Conrad Hall on such TV shows as the Western "Stoney Burke" (ABC, 1962-63) and "The Outer Limits" (1963-65). When Hall graduated to features, he tapped Fraker as his operator for three of his first four pictures as director of photography, two of which ("Morituri" 1965, "The Professionals" 1966) earned him Oscar nominations. Fraker then made his own debut as cinematographer on "The Games" (1967) and followed quickly that year with "The Fox" and "The President's Analyst", wherein he began to push boundaries via use of faster and wider lenses, restricted lighting sources and techniques like "flashing" and deliberate overexposure. He would truly prove his mettle in 1968 with two very diverse, commercial properties. Shooting almost entirely inside, he helped director Roman Polanski capture the dreamlike, claustrophobic quality of the restrained horror classic "Rosemary's Baby". In contrast, Peter Yates' "Bullitt" exploded off the screen, and its vicious duel between a Mustang Fastback and a Dodge Charger along San Francisco's rolling hills established the benchmark for automobile chase sequences. He also landed Joshua Logan's big-budget epic musical "Paint Your Wagon" (1969) because art director-production designer John Truscott had seen "The Fox" and knew they were striving for a similar look.

"Paint Your Wagon" was the first Western feature Fraker photographed, but the homegrown Southern Californian has often steered his career back to that genre in a continuing effort to bring his vision of the West to the screen. "I love Westerns, because that period is one of the most romantic times in history," he told American Cinematographer (February 2000). He made his feature directorial debut with "Monte Walsh" (1970), based on the novel by Jack Schaefer (the author of "Shane"). The film starred Lee Marvin as an aging cowboy who realizes that the West he knew and loved was vanishing, taking his place with it as well. In addition to revisiting the West (and his professional past) for his third directing assignment, "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" (1981), which he shot in Monument Valley as an homage to director John Ford, he has also addressed his Western vision as a director of photography on the films "Rancho Deluxe" (1975), "Murphy's Romance" (1985) and "Tombstone" (1993).

Despite periodic work as a director, Fraker's first love remains cinematography, and he has frequently been invaluable as a director of photography to first-time directors like Floyd Mutrux ("Dusty and Sweets McGee" 1971), inaugurating a five-picture collaboration, and Charles Shyer ("Irreconcilable Differences" 1984), with whom he worked on two additional features. He met actor Burt Reynolds on the set of "Fade-In" (1968) and later served as cinematographer on his directing debut, "Gator" (1976), as well as for "Sharkey's Machine" (1981), not to mention directing him in the ABC movie "The Dancer's Touch" (1989). "Heaven Can Wait" (1978) successfully paired Fraker with first-time co-directors Warren Beatty and Buck Henry and allowed him to re-create the old studio lighting of the "Golden Age" pictures that had inspired him in the first place. That film earned him his second Oscar nomination (the first, "Looking for Mr. Goodbar", had come the year before), and he would garner four more nods (two for "1941" 1979, "WarGames" 1983 and "Murphy's Romance").

Fraker followed his illustrious peers Haskell Wexler and Bill Butler to shoot the last 10 days or so of Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning Best Picture "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest" (1975) and true to his mantra of "consistency" kept to the style established by his predecessors. Two decades later, he and John Frankenheimer signed on to "The Island of Dr. Moreau" (1996) a week into production after the original cinematographer and director had quit over creative differences with the studio. Although he hasn't helmed a feature since "The Legend of the Lone Ranger", his directing work for TV has included six episodes of the acclaimed CBS series "Wise Guy" at the end of the 80s and a 1993 episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS). After he worked with yet another first-timer, Stephen Kessler, on "Vegas Vacation" (1997), Fraker's inability to find meaningful material kept him on the sidelines for the rest of the 90s, but following his receipt of the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers, he roared back with two highly-anticipated features, William Friedkin's "Rules of Engagement" (2000) and Peter Chelsom's "Town & Country" (2001), the latter reuniting him with Warren Beatty.

Relationships

William A Fraker Jr

Son
born on July 14, 1960 had a bit role in father's directing debut ("Monte Walsh") worked as second assistant camera on a number of his dad's films, including "The Legend of the Lone Ranger" (1981), "Murphy's Romance" (1985) and "SpaceCamp" (1986), before dying tragically

William Fraker

Father
learned craft from mother-in-law started out at Universal, Pathe and First National before running the stills gallery at Columbia from 1928-1929 to 1934, when he died of pneumonia of Pennsylvania Dutch extraction

Charles Fraker

Uncle
worked for Fraker's dad before moving to Paramount, where he later took over the department and ran it until after World War II, when the studios eliminated all their stills galleries

EDUCATION

University of Southern California

Los Angeles , California 1951
attended on GI Bill; studied under Slavko Vorkapich

Milestones

2000

Served as director of photography on William Friedkin's "Rules of Engagement", starring Tommy Lee Jones and Samuel L Jackson, and Peter Chelsom's "Town & Country", which reteamed him with Warren Beatty and Diane Keaton

1999

Honored by the American Society of Cinematographers with a lifetime achievement award

1997

Captured Las Vegas again for "Vegas Vacation"

1996

Along with director John Frankenheimer, signed on for "The Island of Dr Moreau" a week into the scheduled production after the original director and cinematographer left due to creative differences with the studio

1995

Third feature with Shyer for "Father of the Bride Part II", starring Steve Martin and Diane Keaton

1994

Served as director of photography on Sandra Locke's ABC movie "Death in Small Doses"; Locke had acted in his "A Reflection of Fear"

1993

Helmed an episode of "Walker, Texas Ranger" (CBS)

1993

Served as associate producer and cinematographer on "Tombstone"

1992

Reunited with Bergman for "Honeymoon in Las Vegas"

1990

First film with director Andrew Bergman, "The Freshman"

1990

Fifth film with Mutrux, "There Goes My Baby" (released in 1994)

1989

Helmed "The Dancer's Touch" (ABC), the first of 12 TV-movies starring Reynolds as B L Stryker

1989

Reteamed with Yates on "An Innocent Man"

1987

Reunited with Shyer on "Baby Boom", starring Diane Keaton

1987

Was cinematographer on Hugh Wilson's "Burglar"

1985

Sixth and last Academy Award nomination to date, "Murphy's Romance"

1985

Second film as director of photography for Brooks, "Fever Pitch"

1984

First film with director Charles Shyer, "Irreconcilable Differences"

1983

Earned another Oscar nomination for "WarGames"

1981

Third feature directing project, "The Legend of the Lone Ranger"

1981

Reunited with Reynolds for "Sharkey's Machine"

1980

Fourth film with Mutrux, "The Hollywood Knights"

1979

Received two Oscar nominations for Spielberg's "1941" for Best Visual Effects and Best Cinematography

1978

Earned second Academy Award nomination for "Heaven Can Wait", co-directed by Warren Beatty and Buck Henry

1978

Third film with Mutrux, "American Hot Wax"

1977

First collaboration with Steven Spielberg, shot additional scenes for "Close Encounters of the Third Kind"

1977

Received first Oscar nomination for Best Cinematography for work on Richard Brooks' "Looking for Mr. Goodbar"

1976

Served as cinematographer for Reynolds' feature directorial debut, "Gator"

1975

Reteamed with Mutrux for "aloha, bobby and rose"

1975

Shot the last 10 days or so of Milos Forman's Academy Award-winning Best Picture "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest", after both Haskell Wexler and Bill Butler had worked on it

1970

First of five films with director Floyd Mutrux, the semi-documentary "Dusty and Sweets McGee"; also appeared in picture as a big-time drug dealer, as well as being a partner in the Laughlin-Fraker-Mutrux-Michael Production

1970

Helmed "Reflection of Fear" (released in 1973)

1969

Made feature directorial debut with "Monte Walsh"

1968

Enjoyed professional and creative turning point with the success of Roman Polanski's "Rosemary's Baby" and Peter Yates' "Bullitt", serving as director of photographer on both

1968

First association with Burt Reynolds, "Fade-In"

1967

Feature debut as director of photography, "Games" (Universal)

1965

Operated camera on three of Hall's first four features as director of photography, "Wild Seed", "Morituri" and "The Professionals" (first collaboration with director Richard Brooks); the latter two earned Hall Oscar nominations

1964

Was camera operator on "Father Goose"

1961

Worked as director of photography on the documentary "Forbid Them Not"

1956

Served as camera assistant on "The Young Guns"

1954

Got start in television, beginning as a loader on the ABC series "The Lone Ranger"

Worked as director of photography with Hugh Wilson on the CBS series "Frank's Place"

After becoming an operator, worked with fellow USC alum and cameraman Conrad Hall on the Western "Stoney Burke" (ABC, 1962-1963) and the sci-fi classic "The Outer Limits" (ABC, 1963-1965)

Spent seven-and-a-half years working on "The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet" (ABC); credits director-star Ozzie Nelson with helping him rise from second assistant director to camera operator during this time

Found himself shut out of The Camera Guild after graduating from USC in 1950; worked as an editor at various television production companies; mustered non-union camera jobs by shooting inserts and stock footage on the fly

Directed six episodes of "Wiseguy" (CBS)

Lost out on an opportunity to be director of photography on "Bonnie and Clyde" (1967) when Jack Warner said, "Any cameraman that has not yet shot a picture is not going to shoot his first picture on my lot"

Raised by grandmother and aunt after his mother and father died; they told him he was going to be a cameraman, so from the time he was 14, he knew what he wanted to be

Served in the Coast Guard during World War II, returning home in 1946

Bonus Trivia

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In 2001, Fraker was awarded the Mary Pickford Alumni Award from USC.

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"I think the criterion for separating the men from the boys is the fact that when you look at a cinematographer's work on screen, you have to look at the consistency of the work. The consistency has to be there." --William A Fraker quote introducing section on Fraker in "Masters of Light: Conversations with Contemporary Cinematographers" by Dennis Schaefer and Larry Salvato (Berkeley and Los Angeles, California: The University of California Press, 1984)

.

"I don't believe in style. I think you find what the movie looks like within the material. And the director, the actors, the location all help you dictate the look of the film, not some arbitrary style you want to impose." --Fraker quoted in Moviemaker, June-July 1998

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On receiving the 1999 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society of Cinematographers: "I was flabbergasted, and I'm very honored. I love the ASC; it means a hell of a lot to a lot of people, so I'm very happy to get this award. Being recognized by your peers is probably more important than anything else."Also, if any success is given to me, it has to be shared with my crew--they are magnificent and loyal: gaffer Doug Pentek, best boy Don Yamosaki, camera operator David Diano, camera assistant Ted Chu and key grip Al Laverde." --Fraker to David E Williams in American Cinematograper, February 2000

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"Why would anybody want to re-create reality? The only reason to attend a concert, a stage play or a movie is to escape reality. You have to be a storyteller, to invite the audience into what you want to say and take them on a trip. Part of that is photography, so why should I try to make it look 'real'?"One of the things I love about shooting in the studio, as opposed to on location, is that you can walk onto a dark stage and put that first light anywhere. That's the first brushstroke, and you can then build on it with each additional lamp. You create your own reality, rather than re-creating something that's already there." --Fraker in American Cinematographer, February 2000

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