Allen Daviau has passed away. The cinematographer was 77-years old. Daviau died on April 15th due to complications from the coronavirus. Steven Spielberg paid tribute to his old friend with a touching message on social media. The two started out together in the late 1960s and Daviau served as cinematographer on E.T. the Extra Terrestrial, along with several future Spielberg projects. Spielberg had this to say about his friend and colleague.
"In 1968, Allen and I started our careers side by side with the short film AMBLIN'. Allen was a wonderful artist, but his warmth and humanity were as powerful as his lens. He was a singular talent and a beautiful human being."
Allen Daviau was nominated for five Academy Awards for his cinematography work over the years. In addition to E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Daviau worked on Twilight Zone: The Movie, The Color Purple, Empire of the Sun, Harry and the Hendersons, Bugsy, Avalon, and more. In addition to his work in on the big screen, Daviau served as a Cinematographer-in-Residence at the University of California, Los Angeles, sharing his knowledge with film students.
Allen Daviau and Steven Spielberg made Amblin,' which is Spielberg's first complete project, in 1968. The short was shot on 35mm film and takes place during the hippy era. It is known for some pretty complicated shots, which Daviau had to figure out on the spot. The short film was a success and it led to Spielberg becoming one of the youngest directors to ever receive a contract with a Hollywood studio. The young director would utilize Daviau's talents a lot more in the years following their first collaboration.
Allen Daviau received lifetime achievement awards from the Art Directors Guild in 1997 and the American Society of Cinematographers in 2007. John Toll worked as Daviau's camera operator for many years early in his career and he released a statement about the cinematographer. He says, "(Daviau) was as creative and knowledgeable of the art, craft and history of cinematography as anyone I've ever known. He was always gracious and happy to share his knowledge and experience with his peers." This sentiment has been echoed numerous times throughout Daviau's long career and one of the reasons so many people enjoyed working with him.
Allen Daviau was born in New Orleans on June 14th, 1942. He was raised in Los Angeles and was introduced to Steven Spielberg in the late 1960s. "Steven had seen some of my 16mm work," he said in a 2007 interview. "He and I shared a great love of movies." The two received success not long afterwards and shared the set on some of Hollywood's most memorable movies throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Daviau also worked on documentaries and thousands of commercials over the years. May he rest in peace. You can read Steven Spielberg's tribute to Alan Daviau below, thanks to the Amblin Twitter account.