Frederick William "Freddie" Francis BSC (22 December 1917 – 17 March 2007) was an English cinematographer and film director. He is a Capricorn.
He achieved his greatest successes as a cinematographer, including winning two Academy Awards, for Sons and Lovers (1960) and Glory (1989). As a director, he was associated with the British production companies Amicus and Hammer in the 1960s and 1970s.
His work with David Lynch is seen as a resurgence for his career as it allowed his talents to be realized by a new audience.
David Lynch has said of Francis that his work is "simple and beautiful"
Films with Lynch Edit
- The Elephant Man (1980)
- Dune (1984)
- The Straight Story (1999)
Early Life Edit
Francis was born in Islington, London and attended technical school where he studied engineering
He left school at age 16, he pursued his interest in photography and cinema and got himself apprenticed to stills photographer Louis Prothero. Francis stayed with him for six months. In this time they photographed stills for a Stanley Lupino picture made at Associated Talking Pictures. This led to him successively becoming a clapper boy, camera loader and focus puller.
In 1939, Francis joined the Army. During the war he was assigned to the Army Film Unit, and on demobilization he became a camera operator at Denham on films.
Following his return to civilian life, Francis spent the next 10 years working as a camera operator.
Early Career Edit
In 1954 he worked on René Clement's Knave of Hearts and Bernard Bernhardt's Beau Brummel and then, in 1956, became director of photography for the first time with A Hill in Korea.
After The Innocents, he turned to direction. It was his idea that he could make more money this way.
In 1962 he directed the Hammer horror film, Paranoiac, the success of this film lead to more offers for him to direct and eventually solidified his position as a director.
Through the next two decades Francis did not work as a cinematographer.
With The Elephant Man (1980), Francis found himself gaining new-found prestige and admiration for his work. David Lynch loved his work with the camera and made a point to use Francis in his alter work. Francis' work with Lynch had reinvigorated his passions and brought the attentions of many filmmakers.
"I don't know where this cinematographer Freddie Francis sprang from. You may recall that in the last year just about every time a British movie is something to look at, it turns out to be his." - Pauline KaelDuring the 1980's he worked on films like The Executioner's Song (1982), Dune (1984) and Glory (1989), which earned him his second Academy Award. Francis provided the cinematography for the critical favorite The Man in the Moon (1991) as well as Martin Scorsese's remake of Cape Fear (1991). His final film as cinematographer was David Lynch's The Straight Story (1999).
Francis employed many attributes that proved to help his future relationship with David Lynch. His early career had him Directing and shooting horror films.
His "skillful use of black and white" proved to be a staple that set him apart from many of his contemporaries. The use of value in his work became one of the strongest foundations for his and Lynch's collaborative efforts.
"I would have loved to have made Dune in black and white" -David LynchWhile Dune was not shot in black and white it was shot by Francis. Freddie has said of David that "he thinks in black and white".
When asked how he learned his style Francis said, "By doing it". His undying work ethic and demeanor made him a man that many loved to work with. Scorsese is quoted as loving working with Francis on Cape Fear (1991) because of Francis' "understanding [the] concept of Gothic atmosphere"
He always saw his role as cameraman as of being of service to a director.
Francis hated special effects and tried to stay true to his roots as a photographer when shooting films. His work on Dune (1984) is one of the only films to counter this ideal. Francis has said "I only did Dune because it was David". A testament to their relationship.
"I looked at other works by British directors of photography, and to me, they just didn’t come anywhere near what Freddie was doing." - David Lynch