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An Eye for Detail

Sonalika Singh writes on life and works of John Ira Bailey – a prominent American cinematographer and Jury head of recently concluded IFFI, Goa.

Cinema has always been grand and glorious and has occupied a soft corner in the lives of people. The important aspect of filmmaking is to ensure the aesthetics support the vision of the director. In order to communicate the story and the message in a better and appealing way. This responsibility lies on the shoulders of a cinematographer and amongst many who have brought justice to these responsibilities is John Ira Bailey, ASC.

The cinematographer was born on August 10, 1942, in Missouri, U.S and graduated from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinematic Arts. He initially worked as a crew member with various cinematographers such as Vilmos Zsigmond and Nestor Almendros. He also worked on numerous comedies such as ‘Groundhog Day’, ‘As Good as it Gets’ and  ‘The Producers’.

After attaining a name in industry, John became a member of the American Society of Cinematographers. In 2015, he was awarded the American Society of Cinematographers Lifetime Achievement award. He was then appointed as the President of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on August, 2017.

A Walk in the Woods
Screengrab from A Walk in the Woods, one of his recent notable work

While Bailey succeeded in his career he also faced distress when he became the first test case for the industry group’s new policies on ‘member misconduct’ on March 14, after allegations of sexual harassment by three women came into the Academy’s notice. Later after the internal investigation by the Oscars governing body proved that the allegations were false. Bailey in one of his letters also wrote that he cared deeply about women’s issues and supports equal treatment.

John Bailey was also the chairperson of the 50th International Film Festival of India held in Goa. He spoke about his views on Indian cinema at the interactive session with Stakeholders of Media and Entertainment Industry organized by FICCI.

He called India a land of storytellers and felt that the production of movies in India is four times more than that produced in the United States and therefore there should be more representation of Indian cinema abroad.

He also said that he feels that even though India is doing well in other countries, it needs to make concerted efforts in the United States too.

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