Pashkovsky was sort of the Vivian Meier of Hollywood, but he lived a more fulfilling
life. He wanted to be a Hollywood cameraman, but he found the nepotistic fix
was in at the union. Undaunted, Pashkovsky still managed to work with and
document the movie stars that fascinated him, but he contented himself with a
conventional still camera instead. Barry Avrich introduces viewers to the late
Pashkovsky and gives us a peek inside his largely unseen treasure trove of
photos in the short documentary, The Man
Who Shot Hollywood,
screens during the 2016 New York Jewish Film Festival.
Pashkovsky’s family emigrated from St. Petersburg, settling in New York, where
the young boy was dazzled by motion pictures. He made his way to Hollywood, to
seek his fame and fortune, but it did not go exactly according to plan.
However, he would meet and romance his beloved wife, while working on studio
lots in jobs with fewer barriers to entry. He soon bought a camera and started
taking charmingly relaxed shots of the biggest stars of the day.
laughingly concedes to Avrich that he might be the original paparazzi, but he
always asked permission first. It is a point worth stressing. Since everyone
recognized him from his studio work, nobody turned him down. Clearly, they had
good reason to trust Pashkovsky, considering he almost never sold his pictures
to publications. However, some of his shots might have well served his subjects’
publicity campaigns. His photos are candid, but never embarrassing. In some
cases, the stars look better without their elaborate makeup and wardrobe.
There is a great deal about Pashkovsky that is
both touching and instructive. He faced professional disappointments in life,
but still made the best of things. He also found a measure of artistic
satisfaction independently producing his own short subjects. It is therefore
quite nice to see Pashkovsky get his posthumous due. Recommended for its
sweetly elegiac tone and Pashkovsky’s wonderful visuals, The Man Who Shot Hollywood screens twice this Thursday (1/14) with Art and Heart at the Walter Reade
Theater, as part of this year’s NYJFF.
Labels: Documentary, Jack Pashkovsky, NYJFF '16, Short Films