Milsome, Douglas


Milsome, Douglas
   Douglas Milsome worked for STANLEY KUBRICK as focus-puller on A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (1971) and BARRY LYNDON (1975), camera operator and second-unit cinematographer on THE SHINING (1980), and as director of photography on FULL METAL JACKET (1987).
   In a 1987 interview with American Cinematographer, Milsome talks about his relationship with cinematographer JOHN ALCOTT and with Kubrick. Alcott, he says, “lit like no other cameraman, so effectively with little or no light. Most of his lighting went into one suitcase, and that’s what I like, and it’s what Stanley likes, too. ” One thing Milsome learned from Kubrick and Alcott was the ability to disguise lighting instruments as either natural light sources or practical lights in the set. For the opening scene of Full Metal Jacket, in which the camera tracks through the barracks in front of LEE ERMEY, we eventually see the full 360 degrees of the set. This was achieved in much the same way that the Overlook Hotel lobby was lit in The Shining: banks of lights were placed outside the barracks windows, and the intense light streaming in was made to appear as sunlight. No other light was used in the scene.
   Always the innovator, Kubrick was notorious for modifying existing equipment to suit his needs, using it in ways that had never occurred to anyone before. Milsome describes a rather unusual “dolly” that was used in the battle scenes of both Barry Lyndon and Full Metal Jacket. For tracking across fields, a traditional dolly simply would be too shaky, so Kubrick had his crew modify a camera car, removing the engine to make it lighter. Thus, six grips could push the car quite easily, and it delivered a remarkably smooth ride across the uneven ground.
   Regarding Kubrick’s well-documented perfectionism, Milsome is of two minds: “He’s a drain, because he saps you dry, but he works damn hard himself and expects everybody else to . . . I’ve actually had a lot harder time working for a lot less talented people than Stanley. ”
   A native of London, Milsome started as a camera assistant at Pinewood Studios, where he worked with the Arthur J. Rank motion picture company for seven years. He began freelancing as a cameraman in 1958, and his films as camera operator include The Bounty (1984), Blade Runner (1982, additional photography, uncredited), and the television version of All Quiet on the Western Front (1979). His credits as cinematographer include Wild Horses (1983), The Beast (1984), Desperate Hours (1990), and Body of Evidence (1993).
   References
   ■ “Douglas Milsome,” Internet Movie Database, www.imdb.com;
   ■ “Douglas Milsome,” The Beast press book;
   ■ Magid,Ron,“Full Metal Jacket: Cynic’s Choice,” American Cinematographer (September 1987): 74–84.

The Encyclopedia of Stanley Kubrick. . 2002.

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