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Taxi Driver: The best movie of my career


Taxi Driver: Small budget but big players
Michael Chapman Film-maker
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In the spring of 1975, a friend in New York mentioned me to Marty Scorsese, who was doing this low budget movie in New York in that summer, and it turned out to be Taxi Driver, and... and we met, and he saw [The] Last Detail and liked it, you know, and... and I guess he couldn't have seen [The] White Dawn, I don't think it... I don't think it was being edited then, but he saw Last Detail; I remember that we talked about it, and we talked about Godard a lot, and, as you may have noticed, I tend to talk very fast, and Marty talks very fast, and we talked very fast to each other, and we all got on very well, and we talked about Godard, and he hired me. And it turned out to be Taxi Driver. I... you know, I... again, it's one of those... just one of those things that happens, you know, I don't... I was always in the right place at the right time, and I got hired, and it turned out to be Taxi Driver. And it was Paul Schrader and Marty and Bobby De Niro at the top of their game, and what was thought of at the time as really a very low budget movie; it was going to be done on the streets of New York for no money and not much in the way of lights and everything... turned out to be Taxi Driver, and it was done on the streets of New York for not much money. It was a genuinely low budget movie – I mean, for those guys who, later on in their careers, you know, commanded millions, it was a very low budget movie. They were all young and... and passionate and excited, and Paul had written this extraordinary script, which you only realized was so extraordinary when you came to shoot it in a way. When you read it you didn't necessarily... I didn't necessarily understand how amazing it was, but it led you into... it's hard to explain how it... I mean, sometime it had actual visual descriptions which were very useful, but somehow it was so powerful a script that it led you into it; it told you where to go, emotionally. I mean, it's an extraordinary script, really is. I've got a copy of it around somewhere, I don't know where it is, but I used to have one, and I used to have one with... with all of my notes and things in it.

Michael Chapman (1935-2020), an American cinematographer, had a huge influence on contemporary film-making, working on an impressive array of classic films including 'Taxi Driver', 'Raging Bull', 'The Lost Boys' and 'The Fugitive'.

Listeners: Glen Ade Brown

British Director of Photography and Camera Operator Glen Ade Brown settled in Los Angeles 10 years ago.

He has been working on features, commercials and reality TV. He played an instrumental role in the award-winning ABC Family series "Switched" and is also a recipient of the Telly and the Cine Golden Eagle awards for Best Cinematography. He was recently signed by the Judy Marks Agency and is now listed in her commercial roster.

Tags: 1975, New York, Taxi Driver, The Last Detail, The White Dawn, Martin Scorsese, Paul Schrader, Robert De Niro

Duration: 2 minutes, 4 seconds

Date story recorded: May 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008