Behind the Scenes: Gordon Willis at work

Annie Hall (1977, NY Times, taken by Brian Hamil)

Gordon Willis and Woody Allen on the set of 1977’s Annie Hall. (Photo Credit: Brian Hamill/Getty Images, from the New York Times).

During this week’s installment of the podcast The Treatment hosted by Elvis Mitchell, director James Gray (The Immigrant, The Yards) gave a fitting summation of the revolutionary nature of the late Gordon Willis’ approach to cinematography.

The thing that Gordon Willis did, and (Vittorio) Storaro as well, in the early 1970s/late 1960s, is they basically said, ‘You don’t walk onto the stage and turn on every light on the set. What you do is you view it as a black screen and then ask yourself – What part do we need to see?’

Listen to Gray’s entire interview here or continue onward for a few more pics of Willis at work.

Annie Hall (

Allen (astride the ladder) and Willis (back to camera) on the set of Annie Hall. Photo Credit: Craft Truck

All the Presidents Men (pakula, willis) (

Alan J. Pakula and Willis on the set of 1976’s All the President’s Men. Photo Credit:

Gordon Willis

Willis on the set of 1972’s The Godfather. A bearded and bespectacled Francis Ford Coppola can be seen standing behind camera.

Godfather III (cinephilia)

Willis peers through a director’s viewfinder to set up a shot on The Godfather III. Coppola stands frame right. Photo credit: Cinephilia and Beyond

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