A film director oversees a film’s creative and dramatic qualities. They also visualize the screenplay to ensure that the film comes out the way the production team intended. But did you know that one of the directors in the 1960 film cast himself as the lead and devised a multi-camera system so he could be able to direct too?
Jerry Lewis was both actor and director for the 1960 film “The Bellboy.” He devised a system of many cameras and monitors that allowed him to act, assess the performance, and reshoot immediately. The invention earned him the Golden Light Technical Achievement Award.
Who is Jerry Lewis?
Jerry Lewis, the comedian who rose to popularity as one half of the immensely successful pair Martin and Lewis in the 1950s, is also an outstanding actor, film producer, and screenwriter. At age five, he was introduced to show business as the son of professional entertainers. By the time he was in his teens, he had devised his own humorous performance, Record Act, an exaggerated mime of famous songs. He met Dean Martin, a nightclub singer with whom he established Martin and Lewis, a comedic duo.
Before moving on to radio, films, and television, the duo performed in nightclubs. The duo rose to fame when they participated in a series of comedy films, known for their slapstick humor and exaggerated physical antics.
Despite functioning as a team, each member carved out their own specialty. This allowed them to pursue successful solo careers once the trio disbanded. Lewis had his debut appearance without Martin in The Delicate Delinquent, which went on to become a great hit and established him as a solo actor. The actor went on to direct and produce films, receiving the Best Director of the Year award in Europe eight times. (Source: The New York Times)
How Did Jerry Lewis Win the Golden Light Technical Achievement Award?
Lewis pioneered video cameras and multiple closed-circuit monitors during the 1960 production of the film, The Bellboy, this allowed him to assess his performance instantaneously. It was important because he was both performing and directing. His approaches and methods of filmmaking, which he outlined in his book and in his USC class, allowed him to finish most of his films on schedule and on a budget because reshoots could be done without waiting for the dailies.
The video system, dubbed Jerry’s Noisy Toy, is featured in Man in Motion, a featurette for Three on a Couch, and shows Lewis collecting the Golden Light Technical Achievement Award for its construction. Lewis claims that he collaborated with Sony’s CEO to create the prototype. He did not possess a patent, although he pioneered and was instrumental in its development. This method is now standard in filmmaking. (Source: The New York Times)
What Did Lewis Do After His Acting Career?
Lewis taught a film directing class at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles for several years, beginning in 1967. George Lucas was one of his students, and his friend Steven Spielberg occasionally sat in on his classes.
That’s what filmmaking is all about.Jerry Lewis, Actor, and Director of The Bellboy
(Source: The New York Times)