Bonus Episode: John Bailey, ASC
It’s Groundhog Day! Director and cinematographer John Bailey, ASC sat down with us before the pandemic to discuss his work on the film, Groundhog Day, and briefly touched on his other work.
John Bailey feels that the screenplay is the most important part of a film. It can be a leap of faith to work with a first time director, when they don’t have a body of work, so a good script is always a solid starting point. As the DP of Ordinary People, John noticed the craftsmanship of that particular screenplay, which was carefully written and structured for several years by screenwriter Alvin Sargent and first-time director Robert Redford. He knew right away it would become a meaningful and important film. Both Sargent and Redford won Academy Awards for their work as screenwriter and director, respectively, and Ordinary People won the Best Picture Oscar.
Groundhog Day grabbed John immediately as an interesting and offbeat idea for a film, but no one guessed that it would actually become part of the film canon and popular culture. To this day, John is surprised when people tell him how much they like that film and how much it has touched people. The movie famously had its own chaos, since star Bill Murray and director Harold Ramis had a very combative relationship on set.
John spent two years as the president of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. His passion was in furthering the Academy Film Archive, the Margaret Herrick Library, and other AMPAS charitable projects. He became frustrated with the industry’s focus on the Academy’s role in the Oscars and how much punditry went into how to fix the awards process.
Currently, John continues to work as a cinematographer and director.
You can watch Groundhog Day all day long on Feb. 2 on AMC, or stream it (for a fee) on Amazon, Sling TV, or YouTube.
Find John Bailey
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