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In Memory of Neal Fredericks, Cinematographer

 
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Michael Scrutchin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
Posts: 832
Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 08.17.2004 12:45 am    Post subject: In Memory of Neal Fredericks, Cinematographer Reply with quote

Neal Fredericks, probably best known as The Blair Witch Project's cinematographer, was a member of the B-Independent Board, which I often visit, and he was always eager to share advice and chat about filmmaking. Late last year I reviewed a recent movie he lensed (Killer Me), which led to the exchange of a few friendly emails. He even registered for this forum and posted a message directing people to my review of the film. I never met him in person, but if his online persona is any indication, he was a wonderful guy.



Damn.



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Neal Fredericks, 'Blair Witch' cinematographer, died in crash



ADRIAN SAINZ

Associated Press



MIAMI - Neal Fredericks, the cinematographer of the low-budget but successful horror film "The Blair Witch Project," was killed in a plane crash while filming a movie over the Dry Tortugas, his agent said.



Fredericks, 35, was dragged down by the wreckage of a single-engine Cessna as the pilot and three other members of his film crew escaped to be later rescued, the Coast Guard said.



A team of U.S. Army Special Forces divers recovered the body of Fredericks inside the submerged plane on Sunday, a day after the crash about 70 miles west of Key West.



Fredericks collaborated with writers Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick on "The Blair Witch Project," an intense, atmospheric horror movie about three student filmmakers who venture into the woods in search of a spooky legend.



The 1999 film, shot with hand-held cameras for a realistic feel, was hailed as a low-budget-to-blockbuster success story, made for almost nothing while grossing more than $240 million worldwide at the box office. Fredericks also worked on more than two dozens films in his career.



Charles Lenhoff, Fredericks' agent, said Monday the veteran cinematographer was working on a new film when the crash took place.



"He was an immensely talented, low key, unassuming, kind and gentle person," Lenhoff told The Associated Press on Monday. "He was right on the threshold of a creative breakthrough in terms of his career."



Sanchez said Monday he was stunned to hear about the death of his friend. Sanchez and Fredericks first met in 1987 when they were students at Montgomery College Rockville, Md. He described the slim, blond-haired Fredericks as a warm, funny, giving person.



"He was part of everything I've shot since high school. It's going to be hard to get on the next set without him," Sanchez said in a telephone interview. "It was really tragic how he died, but at the same time he died doing what he loved."



Sanchez recalled how a younger Fredericks would wake up at 5 a.m. to drive an hour to operate a camera on a feature "that was paying no one and treating the crew pretty bad, as I recall."



"He's just one of the most passionate people I've ever known when it comes to filmmaking," Sanchez said.



On his Web site, Sanchez wrote about how Fredericks handled the challenge of working on a project as unique as "Blair Witch."



"Blair Witch didn't need to be lit, so he didn't light it," Sanchez wrote. "It didn't need a camera operator, so he didn't operate. What he did do was make sure those actors knew everything they could and had everything they needed to keep shooting, to keep getting those images into the camera."



Park rangers took the four survivors of the crash on Sunday to nearby Fort Jefferson, a 19th century island fort in the remote Dry Tortugas National Park west of Key West. The privately owned, single-engine Cessna departed from the Florida Keys Marathon Airport.



Fredericks was born in Newport Beach, Calif., and lived in Los Angeles. Funeral arrangements were being planned, Lenhoff said.

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Michael Scrutchin
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Location: Pearland, TX

PostPosted: 08.17.2004 12:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Man, this news has me seriously bummed. Even though I never met him in person, this news hit me pretty hard. My heart goes out to his family and friends. He was only around 35, too.
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Danny Baldwin
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Joined: 26 Jun 2003
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 1:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's terrible. His work on The Blair Witch Project was truly monumental, and the fact he even came on the forum and registered shows that he must've been one cool guy.
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Monkeypox
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Joined: 17 Jul 2003
Posts: 156
Location: TX

PostPosted: 08.17.2004 9:23 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow....



Neal was also shooting the new Black Dahlia film by Ramzi Abed. This is the first I've heard of his death, so I haven't talked to Ramzi about it yet. That, and it comes almost a year to the day after friend and art director (the tunnel) JD White passed away in Dallas at the age of 37.



All I can say is.. wow.
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HoRRoRFaN
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Joined: 06 Jul 2004
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PostPosted: 08.17.2004 7:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He was very talented... That's sad news, indeed.
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