Tell Them Who You Are (2005)

R | 95 mins | Documentary | 13 May 2005

THIS TITLE IS OUTSIDE THE AFI CATALOG OF FEATURE FILMS (1893-1993)
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Director:

Mark S. Wexler

Producer:

Mark S. Wexler

Cinematographer:

Mark S. Wexler

Editor:

Robert DeMaio

Production Company:

Wexler's World, Inc.
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HISTORY

The film concludes with the following title cards: “Though my dad has sold his camera gear, his career as a filmmaker continues”; “In the fall of 2003, John Sayles hired him to shoot his next film, Silver City ”; “My dad turns 83 in February.”
       End credits include a “Thanks” to the following organizations and individuals: ABC News; Alan Abrams; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library; Eddie Adams; American Society of Cinematographers; Sonia Angulo; Wendy Apple; Judy Arthur; Grover Babcock; Peter Bart; Jane Bay; John Beckham; Cal Bernstein; Meira Blaustein; Garrett Brown; Timothy J. Burke; Colin N. Callender; John Calley; Suzanne Ceresko; Victor Chakarian; Jeffrey Chong; Jay Cocks; Jeannie Cole; Richard Cook; Paul Cronin; Peter A. Demchuk; Annie Dubois; Nancy Eichler; Lincoln Else; Matthew Fassberg; Jane Feil; Cynthia Fontayne; The Four Seasons; Jona Frank; Doug Freeman; Robert Fresco; Troy Garity; Stathis Giallelis; Pat & Judy Gigliotti; Bruce Green; Arlo Guthrie; the Hall family; Pam Hamilton; David Hays; Beth Heckscher; Wolf Hengst; Michael Hernandez; Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Alan Horn; Tim Hotchner; Debbie Hudanish; Catherine Ingram; Joyce Isaacs; Roger Isaacs; Matt Isaia; Amy Holden Jones; Marissa Kalman; Malli Kamimura; Susan Karasic; Hilarie Kavanagh; Christopher J. Keene; David Kennerly; Douglas Kirkland; Sherry Lansing; Lisa Leeman; Harold Leventhal; Jim Lommasson; Yael Melamede; Mary Ellen Mark; Ana Martinez-Holler; Joe Matza; Larry McCallister; Chris McGurk; Bryan McKenzie; Michael Medavoy; Susan Meiselas; Brian Mercer; Tom Miller; John Minsker; Daniel Moder; Noel Nelson; The Nob Hill Lambourne; Maria C. Nondorf; Basil Pao; Peabody’s Restaurant; Philip Proctor; Maria Rivera; Barney Rosset; Paul Rudnick, M.D.; Scott Sakamoto; Julian Schlossberg; Marc Shmuger; Peter Schnall; Screen Actors Guild; Matt Severson; Michael Smith; Peter Sorel; Pete ... More Less

The film concludes with the following title cards: “Though my dad has sold his camera gear, his career as a filmmaker continues”; “In the fall of 2003, John Sayles hired him to shoot his next film, Silver City ”; “My dad turns 83 in February.”
       End credits include a “Thanks” to the following organizations and individuals: ABC News; Alan Abrams; Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Margaret Herrick Library; Eddie Adams; American Society of Cinematographers; Sonia Angulo; Wendy Apple; Judy Arthur; Grover Babcock; Peter Bart; Jane Bay; John Beckham; Cal Bernstein; Meira Blaustein; Garrett Brown; Timothy J. Burke; Colin N. Callender; John Calley; Suzanne Ceresko; Victor Chakarian; Jeffrey Chong; Jay Cocks; Jeannie Cole; Richard Cook; Paul Cronin; Peter A. Demchuk; Annie Dubois; Nancy Eichler; Lincoln Else; Matthew Fassberg; Jane Feil; Cynthia Fontayne; The Four Seasons; Jona Frank; Doug Freeman; Robert Fresco; Troy Garity; Stathis Giallelis; Pat & Judy Gigliotti; Bruce Green; Arlo Guthrie; the Hall family; Pam Hamilton; David Hays; Beth Heckscher; Wolf Hengst; Michael Hernandez; Hollywood Chamber of Commerce; Alan Horn; Tim Hotchner; Debbie Hudanish; Catherine Ingram; Joyce Isaacs; Roger Isaacs; Matt Isaia; Amy Holden Jones; Marissa Kalman; Malli Kamimura; Susan Karasic; Hilarie Kavanagh; Christopher J. Keene; David Kennerly; Douglas Kirkland; Sherry Lansing; Lisa Leeman; Harold Leventhal; Jim Lommasson; Yael Melamede; Mary Ellen Mark; Ana Martinez-Holler; Joe Matza; Larry McCallister; Chris McGurk; Bryan McKenzie; Michael Medavoy; Susan Meiselas; Brian Mercer; Tom Miller; John Minsker; Daniel Moder; Noel Nelson; The Nob Hill Lambourne; Maria C. Nondorf; Basil Pao; Peabody’s Restaurant; Philip Proctor; Maria Rivera; Barney Rosset; Paul Rudnick, M.D.; Scott Sakamoto; Julian Schlossberg; Marc Shmuger; Peter Schnall; Screen Actors Guild; Matt Severson; Michael Smith; Peter Sorel; Pete Stone; M. Wesley Swearingen; Marc Terrier; Faye Thompson; Jon Thorn; Kuniko Usul; Leslie Ward; Paula Weinstein; Judith Weston; Bob Wexler; Jeff Wexler; Kathy Wexler; Dean Williams; and Randolph Wright. End credits also include the following statements: “Archival footage courtesy of Department of the Air Force, Grinberg Worldwide Images, Haskell Wexler”; “Photographs courtesy of The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Nancy de Antonio, The Associated Press/World Wide Photos, Robert Caputo, Chicago Tribune, the Hall family, Joyce Isaacs, Mary Ellen Mark, Robert Marshak, PhotoFest, The Saul Zaentz Company, the Wexler family”; “The picture of Conrad L. Hall is a part of the collection of portraits of leading cinematographers around the world, ‘Cinematographers. Poets of Filmlight,’ by Piotr Jaxa. Selection may be viewed at: www.jaxa.com”; and “Film clips: America, America, courtesy of Castle Hill Productions; Underground, courtesy of Nancy de Antonio; Blaze, courtesy of Disney Enterprises, Inc.; Introduction to the Enemy, courtesy of Jane Fonda; 61*, courtesy of Home Box Office; The Secret of Roan Inish, courtesy of Jones Entertainment Group, Ltd. and Anarchists Convention; Elia Kazan Interview, courtesy of Lorac Productions; Bound for Glory, Coming Home, Hoodlum Priest, In the Heat of the Night, Thomas Crown Affair, courtesy of MGM Clip+Still; Miller Beer Commercial (Schooner), courtesy of Miller Brewing Company; Days of Heaven and Medium Cool, courtesy of Paramount Pictures; Entertainment Tonight, courtesy of Paramount Pictures Coproration; T Is for Tumbleweed, courtesy of Pyramid Media; One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, courtesy of The Saul Zaentz Company; American Graffiti and The Babe, courtesy of Universal Studios Licensing, LLLP; The Loved One and Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? courtesy of Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.; The Bus, The Bus II, Bus Riders Union, Half Century of Cotton, Latino, courtesy of Haskell Wexler; Me & My Matchmaker, courtesy of Mark S. Wexler; Steve McQueen™ is licensed by Chadwick McQueen and The Terry McQueen Testementary Trust, Represented by The Roger Richman Agency, Inc., www.stevemcqueen.net.” The dedication, “In Memory of Conrad,” which appears at the end of onscreen credits is for cinematographer and close friend to Haskell Wexler, Conrad L. Hall, who died 4 Jan 2003.
       According to a 10 Dec 2004 DV brief, writer-producer-director-photographer Mark S. Wexler self-financed the documentary, which cost under $500,000 and was filmed with Sony PD-150 and Sony DSR-570 digital cameras.
       A 23 Sep 2004 DV news item announced that ThinkFilm had acquired domestic distribution rights. The film premiered at the Venice Film Festival in early Sep 2004 and screened mid-Sep 2004 at the Toronto Film Festival.
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SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Daily Variety
23 Sep 2004.
---
Daily Variety
10 Dec 2004.
---
Hollywood Reporter
17 Sep 2004
p. 64.
Los Angeles Times
13 May 2005
p. 4.
New York Times
20 May 2005
p. 10.
Variety
25 Oct 2004.
---
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Mark Wexler Film
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTOR
PRODUCERS
Assoc prod
WRITERS
Narration wrt
Narration wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Addl photog
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Addl cam
Tape to film transfer
FILM EDITOR
MUSIC
SOUND
Voice over rec eng
Addl sd
Addl sd
VISUAL EFFECTS
AfterFX artist
AfterFX artist
Title des by
PRODUCTION MISC
Equip provided by
(No relation)
Project consultant
Project consultant
Post prod services
Post prod consultant
Clearance consultant
Transcription by
Distribution advisory services
SOURCES
SONGS
"Goodnight Irene," words and music by Huddie Ledbetter and John A. Lomax, courtesy of TRO - Ludlow Music, Inc., performed by The Weavers, licensed from and used by permission of Vanguard Records, a Welk Music Group Company (P) Vanguard Records, a Welk Music Group Company.
DETAILS
Release Date:
13 May 2005
Premiere Information:
Toronto Film Festival screening: 12 September 2004
Los Angeles opening: 13 May 2005
New York opening: 20 May 2005
Physical Properties:
Sound
Color
Duration(in mins):
95
MPAA Rating:
R
Country:
United States
Language:
English
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

In 2003, Culver City, California, documentary filmmaker Mark Wexler captures his father, renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, on video. Haskell gives a tour of his equipment room, but refuses to comply when Mark asks him to state their location, insulting his son’s “show and tell” approach to filmmaking. In an interview with Mark, documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates recalls one of his childhood anecdotes: a young Mark wanted to approach someone famous, and Haskell encouraged him by saying, “Tell them who you are,” implying that Mark should introduce himself as Haskell’s son. Sometimes called “the Babe Ruth of cinematography,” Haskell is known for his realistic style, according to producer-director George Lucas. Haskell’s close friend and fellow cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall, says the handheld camera is Haskell’s “instrument.” While actress Jane Fonda describes her working relationship with Haskell as “magical,” actor Martin Sheen labels him a perfectionist. Haskell was born to a rich father, but actor-director Dennis Hopper attests that he was always a hard worker who identified with the working class. During the production of George Lucas’s 1973 film, American Graffiti, actor Ron Howard remembers Haskell splitting his time between Los Angeles and Marin County, California, so that he could shoot commercials as well as Lucas’s picture. Director Norman Jewison recalls that, before the advent of the Steadicam, Haskell rigged cameras to create steady, handheld moving shots on his 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. One day, Haskell attends a ceremony for his star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. Mark is surprised when Haskell asks him to make the documentary more personal and less about Haskell's ... +


In 2003, Culver City, California, documentary filmmaker Mark Wexler captures his father, renowned cinematographer Haskell Wexler, on video. Haskell gives a tour of his equipment room, but refuses to comply when Mark asks him to state their location, insulting his son’s “show and tell” approach to filmmaking. In an interview with Mark, documentary filmmaker Pamela Yates recalls one of his childhood anecdotes: a young Mark wanted to approach someone famous, and Haskell encouraged him by saying, “Tell them who you are,” implying that Mark should introduce himself as Haskell’s son. Sometimes called “the Babe Ruth of cinematography,” Haskell is known for his realistic style, according to producer-director George Lucas. Haskell’s close friend and fellow cinematographer, Conrad L. Hall, says the handheld camera is Haskell’s “instrument.” While actress Jane Fonda describes her working relationship with Haskell as “magical,” actor Martin Sheen labels him a perfectionist. Haskell was born to a rich father, but actor-director Dennis Hopper attests that he was always a hard worker who identified with the working class. During the production of George Lucas’s 1973 film, American Graffiti, actor Ron Howard remembers Haskell splitting his time between Los Angeles and Marin County, California, so that he could shoot commercials as well as Lucas’s picture. Director Norman Jewison recalls that, before the advent of the Steadicam, Haskell rigged cameras to create steady, handheld moving shots on his 1967 film In the Heat of the Night. One day, Haskell attends a ceremony for his star on Hollywood Boulevard’s Walk of Fame. Mark is surprised when Haskell asks him to make the documentary more personal and less about Haskell's Hollywood accomplishments. Although he knows his father is a car collector and a womanizer, Mark mostly identifies Haskell with his career. At Haskell’s eightieth birthday party, arranged by his third wife, Rita, Mark films Haskell as he chats with George Lucas. Also at the party are Jeff and Kathy, Haskell’s son and daughter from his first marriage. Mark is the only child from Haskell’s second marriage. Haskell’s father, Simon Wexler, was an early purveyor of electronics. Haskell attended expensive private schools as a child but often rebelled. In junior high school, he and a friend produced an independent newspaper called Against Everything. Later, he helped organize a workers strike at a factory owned by his father. While serving as a merchant marine in World War II, Haskell spent ten days on a lifeboat after his supply ship was sunk by a German torpedo. After the war, he dedicated himself to filmmaking, procuring financing from his father to set up a movie studio in Des Plaines, Illinois; however, the venture was not successful and Simon Wexler lost patience after spending almost one million dollars on his son’s pursuits. Haskell made a documentary film about a cotton town, Half Century with Cotton, and worked as a freelance cameraman on educational and sports films. One short film, T Is for Tumbleweed, was nominated for an Academy Award in 1959. Hollywood filmmakers took notice of Haskell’s work, and by 1966, he had won an Academy Award for Best Cinematography on Mike Nichols’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf ; ten years later, Haskell won another Academy Award for Hal Ashby’s Bound for Glory. In the early 1960s, Haskell directed The Bus, a cinéma vérité documentary about the 1963 civil rights March on Washington, and later, The Bus II. Noted documentary filmmaker Albert Maysles says that Haskell possessed the empathy and honesty necessary to direct such films. In the 1996 documentary Me & My Matchmaker, Mark told a Jewish matchmaker that Haskell rejected his mother, Marian, and held the belief that all men are beasts. As a child, Mark suspected Haskell of cheating on his mother, who was a painter. Although they lived very separate lives, Marian and Haskell’s marriage lasted thirty years. One day, Mark, a Republican, gives Haskell, a left-wing Democrat, a framed photograph of himself with President George Bush. George Lucas states that Haskell’s politics have always been at the forefront of his filmmaking. Haskell’s film Medium Cool was a fictional narrative incorporating footage shot at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. Although the screenplay anticipated the riots that occurred in real life, Haskell says he had no part in organizing the anti-war demonstrations. Regardless, he was on the front lines during filming and was even temporarily blinded by tear gas. Conrad L. Hall describes himself as a “lover,” while Haskell is a “fighter.” The two started a commercial production company in 1976 called Wexler Hall. While Mark always felt a special bond with Conrad L. Hall, Conrad’s son, cinematographer Conrad W. Hall, took a liking to Haskell. At an anti-war demonstration in San Francisco, California, Mark and Haskell film the crowds. Afterward, Haskell invites Mark to his hotel room for an interview, but argues with his son over the camera setup. Later, Haskell refuses to sign a talent release form until he sees an edit of the documentary. Although Mark begs his father to trust him, Haskell refuses. Mark took up photography at an early age, but became interested in conservative politics as a way to define himself apart from his father. Author and filmmaker Saul Landau recalls Haskell’s disappointment at his son’s political leanings. Landau meets Haskell and Mark outside a fundraiser for “the Cuban Five,” but Mark refuses to attend due to an upcoming assignment to film President George W. Bush on Air Force One. Haskell accuses Mark of endorsing Nazi-like policies, and, later, ascribes his son’s desire to work with U.S. presidents to his need to feel as important as Haskell. Mark recalls that Haskell undermined him as a child and called him “stupid”; however, he also notes that Haskell referred to many of the directors with whom he worked as stupid. Milos Forman, the director of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, recalls his early impression of Haskell’s genius. Actor Michael Douglas, who was a first-time producer on the project, remembers the unbearable tension on set, and likens Haskell’s sternness to that of his own father, actor Kirk Douglas. After Forman learned that Haskell had been airing his frustrations to the actors, the cinematographer was fired. Bill Butler, who had also replaced Haskell on Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation, took over filming. Haskell was devastated, but went immediately to shoot Underground, a documentary about political radicals known as The Weather Underground. Writer-director John Sayles defends Haskell as someone with forceful opinions, while Elia Kazan singles him out as the only cameraman with whom he ever fought. Norman Jewison jokingly refers to him as a “pain in the ass.” On every movie he has ever shot, Haskell says he is confident he could have done a better job than the director. One weakness he admits to is color blindness, although he argues that his lack of total color sensitivity may somehow be beneficial. One film Haskell directed, 1985’s Latino, was rejected by all the major studios due to the political controversy it stirred. Actors were filmed amidst the Contra War in Nicaragua, with extras sometimes using live ammunition during the shoot. Haskell, working on a documentary about Hollywood’s “sweatshop-style” hours, brings Mark along with him to Taos, New Mexico, for an interview with actress Julia Roberts. Afterward, while exploring Taos, they argue over the historical significance of a Spanish mission. Haskell discusses his need to spend time with Conrad L. Hall, who has been diagnosed with cancer. He compares himself to Conrad and suggests that Conrad was a better father. Haskell admits to having extramarital dalliances, but the one time Marian suspected an affair, he denied it because it meant nothing. Haskell visits Jane Fonda, who is impressed by his enduring intensity. Alone with Mark, she likens Haskell to her father Henry Fonda, who was capable of empathy but scared by intimacy. She recalls Introduction to the Enemy, a 1974 documentary about her travels to Vietnam with then-husband Tom Hayden. Jane identified with Haskell, who shot the film, as a privileged child who yearned to make a difference in the world. They also worked together on Coming Home, and Fonda recalls the bond Haskell shared with director Hal Ashby. At Rockport Nursing Home, Haskell and Mark visit Marian, who suffers from Alzheimer’s disease. After talking about a recent trip to Chicago, Haskell cries and whispers into her ear, “We’ve got secrets.” She responds, “I know.” Later, Haskell wonders if Mark’s camera invaded his and Marian’s personal moment, but shakes it off. At Conrad L. Hall’s memorial service, Haskell recalls that Mark always laughed with Conrad, and that made him jealous. Although Haskell decides to sell his camera equipment, he continues to work. Most recently, John Sayles hired him to shoot Silver City. After viewing Mark’s finished film, Haskell signs the talent release form. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award
The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.