The battle between the late Haskell Wexler, a two-time Oscar-winning cinematographer, and his trade union is detailed this week in an in-depth piece on Deadline.com.
Wexler, who died Dec. 27, 2015, at 93, is widely considered to be one of the most influential cinematographers of all time. He won Oscars for Best Cinematography in 1967 for “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?” and 1977 for “Bound for Glory,” and the rest of his filmography is sprinkled with some of the Hollywood’s greatest films — “In the Heat of the Night,” “The Conversation,” “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” “Coming Home,” “The Secret of Roan Inish” and many more.
Wexler had been trying to convince the International Cinematographers Guild to adopt humane rules about long work hours since the death of camera assistant Brian Hershman in 1997. Deadline reports that Hershman was killed “when he fell asleep at the wheel and slammed his car into a utility pole while driving home from a job after working a 19-hour day — which had been preceded by four 15-hour days.”
At the time of Wexler’s death almost a year ago he had been ordered by the guild to face charges before the guild’s Trial Committee for allegedly posting a clip of a union membership meeting on an unlisted YouTube account in violation of union rules. Wexler had appeared at the meeting to implore guild leaders to resist long workdays.
Wexler, who was due to face the Trial Committee less than a month after his death, faced possible expulsion from the union, where he had been a member for more than 60 years.
The highly recommended Deadline article goes into detail about the largely secret war between Wexler and the union, including where things stand following Wexler’s death. Please click here to read the Deadline piece in full.