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Richard Leiterman

(b. March 7, 1935 South Porcupine, Ontario - d. July 14, 2005 Vancouver, British Columbia)

Richard Leiterman was among the best and most famous of Canadian cinematographers. His early work at the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and on such landmark low-budget documentary and feature films as Allan King’s A Married Couple (1969), Don Shebib’s Goin’ Down the Road (1970), Rip-Off (1971) and Between Friends (1972), and William Fruet’s Wedding in White (1972), virtually defined the look of early English-Canadian cinema – hand-held direct cinema shot with style, grace and sensitivity. In their book, Richard Leiterman, Alison Reid and P.M. Evanchuk state that Leiterman’s career "has been so closely involved with the mainstream of Canadian filmmaking that his work is practically illustrative of its trends, its tendency towards fiction film with a solid base in the documentary tradition."

The youngest of six children (his older brother Douglas is an accomplished producer), Leiterman grew up in Northern Ontario and British Columbia and worked as a garbage collector, logger, tug-boat hand, beachcomber and truck driver. At the suggestion of King, who was his brother-in-law at the time, Leiterman enrolled in a summer extension course in camera technique at the University of British Columbia when he was in his early twenties. His instructor, Stanley Fox, would later remark to King that Leiterman, though only a beginner, "held the camera as though it had been in his hands his whole life."

After the course, Leiterman sold his car to buy a camera and began shooting stock footage and selling it to broadcasters. In 1961, King invited Leiterman to London to work as second camera operator on a film about the European Common Market, and in 1962 the two founded Allan King Associates to produce news films for television. Leiterman got a big break a year later when he was hired as a camera operator on the Vietnam documentary, One More River, which was being produced and co-directed by his brother Douglas. Though hired as a second cameraman, Leiterman wound up shooting eighty percent of the film.

In summarizing Leiterman’s techniques and gifts, King has explained: "Richard is not as splashy or spectacular as most cameramen who work with the hand-held camera, but he’s incredibly secure with what he sees and responds to. He has unique vision and great integrity. He never grabs at a subject, he doesn’t push but responds to what’s happening in front of the camera, with the result that he gets more respect from his subjects than anyone I know. If there was a shot I had to get, I’d give it to Richard."

Leiterman’s contribution to A Married Couple was so significant that he was credited as the film’s associate director; he has, in fact, been consistently recognized worldwide as one of the top five cameramen of the direct cinema style. Elaborating on the relevance of Leiterman’s contribution to direct cinema, Reid noted how, while looking through the viewfinder, he will scan "the surroundings for additional pertinent material ... [enabling] ... an easy flow through space from one purposeful image to another so that the dynamics of the situation are incisively inscribed ... [Leiterman has] ... an appreciation for the wholeness of a subject."

Leiterman won a Canadian Film Award for Cinematography for his work on Joyce Wieland’s The Far Shore (1975) and a Genie Award for Best Cinematography for King’s Silence of the North (1981). In 2000, he received the Kodak New Century Award from the Canadian Society of Cinematographers. During the nineties, Leiterman primarily shot movies for American television and taught cinematography at Sheridan College in Toronto before retiring to Vancouver. He died at age 70 due to complications from the rare disease Amyloidoisos.

Film and video work includes

The Pursuit of Happiness, Document series, 1962 (cinematographer)
The Field Day, 1963 (cinematographer)
Fort Chimo, The Isseif, Inquiry series, 1963 (cinematographer; TV)
Lynn Seymour: Our Dancing Expert, Telescope series, 1963 (cinematographer; TV)
The Peacemakers, Document series, 1963 (cinematographer; TV)
Three on a Match, Document series, 1963 (cinematographer; TV)
Colour in Britain, Intertel series, 1964 (cinematographer; TV)
Paradise Street, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Peter Povey, Ron Osborn)
Red Cross: A View from Geneva, Camera Canada series, 1964 (cinematographer; TV)
Running Away Backwards or Coming of Age in Ibiza, Document series, 1964 (cinematographer; TV)
Schools, 1964 (cinematographer)
TV and Politics: The Cathode Colours Them Human, Document series, 1964 (cinematographer; TV)
Walk Down Any Street, 1964 (co-cinematographer with Peter Povey, Ron Osborn; TV)
Walter Ulbricht, 1964 (cinematographer)
Behind Hitler's Cameras, Other Voices series, 1965 (co-cinematographer with Charles Stewart; TV)
East of Howerd, 1965 (cinematographer)
The Promised Land: Immigration, Camera Canada series, 1965 (cinematographer; TV)
A Further Glimpse of Joey, 1966 (cinematographer)
Hecklers, 1966 (co-cinematographer with John Wyatt)
The Man Against the Machine, 1966 (co-cinematographer with Michel Brault)
Saigon: Portrait of a City, 1966 (cinematographer; TV)
Alan Bates, TBA series, 1967 (cinematographer; TV)
Christopher Plummer, TBA series, 1967 (cinematographer; TV)
Flight 101 from Lisbon, TBA series, 1967 (cinematographer; TV)
GeneviPve Bujold, TBA series, 1967 (cinematographer; TV)
Margaret Mead's New Guinea Journal, for NET Festival series, 1967 (cinematographer)
Who Is Ruffino Tamayo?, Creative Persons series, 1967 (cinematographer; TV)
Will the Real Norman Mailer Please Stand Up?, 1968 (cinematographer)
Who Is Norman Mailer?, Creative Persons series, 1986 (cinematographer; TV)
Canada: What's It to You, Bob Stanfield?, 1968 (co-director with Steven Patrick; cinematographer; co-producer with Steven Patrick)
High School, 1968 (cinematographer)
The New Woman, 1968 (cinematographer; TV)
Tight Rope to Autonomy, 1968 (director; cinematographer; TV)
Assignment, 1969 (cinematographer)
Missouri - Campaign, 1969 (cinematographer)
Norman Mailer Versus the Big Apple, 1969 (cinematographer)
Oregon - Campaign, 1969 (cinematographer)
The World of One in Five, Challenge for Change/Société nouvelle series, 1969 (co-cinematographer with Eugene Boyko, Martin Duckworth)
The Blakstad Family, Five Years in the Life series, 1970 (cinematographer; TV)
Dubrovnik Festival, 1970 (cinematographer; TV)
Educational Technology in Developing Countries, 1970 (cinematographer)
Stokowski, NET Festival series, 1970 (cinematographer)
Aging, Here Come the 70's series, 1971 (cinematographer)
Cuba: U.S.A., 1971 (cinematographer)
Energy, Here Come the 70's series, 1971 (cinematographer)
Future Shock, Here Come the 70's series, 1971 (cinematographer)
In Search of the Real Che Guevara, 1971 (cinematographer; TV)
The Occult, Here Come the 70's series, 1971 (cinematographer)
The Tragicall Hiftorie of HAMLET Prince of Denmarke, 1971 (executive producer) a.k.a. Hamlet
Born Hustler, Telescope series, 1972 (cinematographer; TV)
Cinema: The Living Camera, Here Come the 70's series, 1972 (cinematographer)
Come on Children, 1972 (associate producer)
Exercise Running Jump II, 1972 (co-cinematographer with François Brault, Graeme Ferguson, Daniel Fournois)
Keep On Rockin', 1972 (co-cinematographer with D.A. Pennebaker, Barry Bergthorsen, Jim Desmond, et al.)
People's Railway, 1972 (co-cinematographer with John Spotton, Dan Singer)
Winter Sports: Leisure's Newest Dimension, Here Come the 70's series, 1972 (cinematographer)
Catskinner Keen, West series, 1973 (co-cinematographer with Douglas Kiefer)
Cavendish Country, West series, 1973 (co-cinematographer with Douglas Kiefer)
Men of the Fleet, 1973 (director; cinematographer)
A Play on Words, 1973 (cinematographer)
The Tragicall Hiftorie of HAMLET Prince of Denmarke, 1973 (cinematographer)
Van's Camp, West series, 1973 (cinematographer)
Walrus series, 1973 (director; cinematographer; six episodes)
The Arctic Doctor, The World Around Us series, 1974 (cinematographer; TV)
Germany, Heritage series 1974 (director; writer; producer; TV)
Good News, Bad News, 1974 (director; cinematographer)
Italy, Heritage series, 1974 (cinematographer; TV)
Masks of Identity, 1974 (cinematographer)
Thunderbirds in China, 1973 (cinematographer)
Trudeau Campaign/74 series, 1974 (cinematographer; eight episodes)
We've Come a Long Way Together, 1974 (cinematographer)
Winning Is the Only Thing!, Gallery series, 1974 (cinematographer; TV)
Can Primitive People Survive?, 1975 (director; cinematographer)
Horse Latitudes, 1975 (cinematographer)
The McMaster Experiment, Horizon series, 1975 (cinematographer)
Outward Bound, Maclear series, 1975 (co-cinematographer with Philip Pendry; TV)
Profits and Bosses, Maclear series, 1975 (co-cinematographer with David Ostrider, Kurt Palko; TV)
Recommendation for Mercy, 1975 (cinematographer)
That's What We're Here For, 1976 (director; cinematographer)
The Uneasy Union, Quarterly Report series, 1977 (co-cinematographer with Dick Bellamy, Wally Donaldson, Robert Gibson, et al.)
The Case of Barbara Parsons, 1978 (cinematographer)
Four Portraits, 1978 (co-director with Jim McCammon; cinematographer)
Immigration Law: A Delicate Balance, 1978 (cinematographer)
Maybe Yes, Maybe No, 1978 (cinematographer)
Swamp Fox, 1978 (cinematographer)
Wild Horse Hank, 1978 (cinematographer)
Surfacing, 1979 (cinematographer)
Getting Even, 1980 (cinematographer)
Gulfstream, 1980 (co-cinematographer with Susan Trow, Eric Chamberlain, Barry Perles, et al.)
I, Maureen, 1980 (co-cinematographer with Marc Champion)
Josephine, 1980 (director; cinematographer; producer)
Ticket to Heaven, 1980 (cinematographer)
Utilities, 1980 (cinematographer)
Death Hunt, 1981 (second unit cinematographer)
Hail Columbia!, 1981 (co-cinematographer with David Douglas, Graeme Ferguson)
Los Mayas, 1981 (cinematographer)
Silence of the North, 1981 (cinematographer)
The Supercross Spectacular, 1981 (cinematographer)
Maria Chapdelaine, 1982 (co-cinematographer with Pierre Mignot)
Mother Lode, 1982 (cinematographer)
Doris McCarthy: Heart of a Painter, 1983 (cinematographer)
Cougar, 1984 (cinematographer; TV)
The Great Rocky Mountain Relay Race, 1984 (cinematographer)
He's Fired, She's Hired, 1984 (cinematographer; TV)
Striker's Mountain, 1985 (cinematographer; TV)
The Climb, 1986 (cinematographer)
Rad, 1986 (cinematographer)
And Then You Die, 1987 (cinematographer)
Bluffing It, 1987 (cinematographer; TV)
Stone Fox, 1987 (co-cinematographer with Robert Ennis; TV)
Higher Ground, 1988 (cinematographer; TV)
The People Across the Lake, 1988 (cinematographer; TV)
The Squamish Five, 1988 (cinematographer)
Watchers, 1988 (cinematographer)
The First Season, 1989 (cinematographer)
Cadence, 1990 (cinematographer)
Dead Reckoning, 1990 (cinematographer; TV)
It, 1990 (cinematographer; TV)
Blackmail, 1991 (cinematographer; TV)
A Mother's Justice, 1991 (cinematographer; TV)
And the Sea Will Tell, 1991 (cinematographer; TV)
The Comrades of Summer, 1992 (co-cinematographer with David Leiterman; TV) A Christmas Romance, 1994 (cinematographer; TV)
A Killer Among Friends, 1992 (cinematographer; TV)
To Grandmother's House We Go, 1992 (cinematographer; TV)
Change of Heart, 1993 (cinematographer)
City Boy, 1993 (cinematographer)
Double, Double, Toil and Trouble, 1993 (cinematographer; TV)
Without a Kiss Goodbye, 1993 (cinematographer; TV) a.k.a. Falsely Accused
Witness to the Execution, 1993 (cinematographer; TV)
The Disappearance of Vonnie, 1994 (cinematographer; TV)
Don't Talk to Strangers, 1994 (cinematographer; TV)
How the West Was Fun, 1994 (cinematographer; TV)
The Cold Heart of a Killer, 1995 (cinematographer; TV) a.k.a. Murder on the Iditarod Trail
Deadlocked: Escape from Zone 14, 1995 (second unit director; TV)
Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog, 1995 (second unit cinematographer)
Murder on the Iditarod Trail, 1995 (cinematographer; TV)
Pocahontas: The Legend, 1995 (cinematographer)
The Ex, 1996 (cinematographer)
She Woke Up Pregnant, 1996 (cinematographer; TV)
Talk to Me, 1996 (cinematographer; TV)
When Friendship Kills, 1996 (cinematographer; TV)
Country Justice, 1997 (cinematographer; TV)
Into the Arms of Danger, 1997 (cinematographer; TV)
The Right Connections, 1997 (cinematographer; TV)
Crimes of Passion: Nobody Lives Forever, 1998 (cinematographer; TV)
Cuori in campo, 1998 (co-cinematographer with Marco Pontecorvo; TV)
The Spree, 1998 (cinematographer; TV)
Taggart Family, Cold Squad series, 1998 (director; cinematographer; TV)
Willy Santayana, Cold Squad series, 1998 (director; cinematographer; TV)
At the Mercy of a Stranger, 1999 (cinematographer; TV)
Hayley Wagner, Star, 1999 (cinematographer; actor; TV)