Paris during early April of 1985, Steve Landis was invited by
a friend, fellow American photographer Tom Biondo, to go along
with him to meet French film director Daniel
Vigne, at a cafe on Boulevard St. Michel.
Vigne was looking for a real American photographer to play the
role of an American advertising photographer in a scene of his
feature film comedy, "Une femme ou deux."
film which starred Gerard Depardieu, Sigorney Weaver and Dr. Ruth
Westheimer, was primarily shot in France, much of it in Paris,
with a couple of days to be done in New York City. To save
money, they planned to shoot as much as possible in France, including
shooting an interior in Paris, that in the story is set in a New
York photographer's studio. The Paris location people found
the studio of top German fashion photographer Claus Wickwrath,
which to set the scene. I
did not know Claus Wickwrath at the time, only that he was a fine
photographer. I would eventually meet him about 15 years
later, in 2000, in New York and relate some of this story to him.
to the lunch. Some how Tom had gotten wind of the project
and was told to show up to meet the director so that he might
be considered for the role. The reason he took me along
was that he wasn't sure that he would be available, even if they
chose him. He already had a multiple days photography assignment
pending in the States, during the same general time frame.
Vigne met us both and told us either of us would be fine with
him, and if we were both available one of us could be the photographer
and the other the assistant. Tom's assignment came through
and I wound up with the roll. Also
at the lunch was Dr. Ruth Westheimer, who kept telling Tom and
me, to make sure we watched her on the Tonight Show, which she
would be appearing on the following week. Unfortunately,
it did not sink in to Dr. Ruth, that we lived in France, where
the Tonight Show was not aired. We both nodded to be polite
and indicated we would watch.
had me do some prep concept work, with lighting schemes, ahead
of time, and I advised him on other technical details of what
might transpire differently in New York verses Paris.
The scene was all improv, and in English. I had to shoot
and direct Gerard Depardieu, who played a reluctant male sex symbol
cajoled by Sigorney Weaver's character, into posing for the advertising
photo, that I was to create in the scene. In the photo with
Gerard as eye candy and for comedic effect, was the beautiful
Julie Anne Freidman, wife of Duran
of my suggestions to Vigne was to have a beautiful model, (which
turned out to be Julie Ann), dressed in a sexy high fashion outfit
in the photo scene with Gerard. I suggested she be outfitted
in clothes from Azzedine Alia. No designer was in higher
demand amongst the jet set in the eighties than Azzedine Alia.
So part of my duties included arranging and taking Julie Anne
to meet Azzedine at his new atelier, in order to pick out an outfit
for her to wear in the scene.
we arrived I could tell Azzedine had a question for me.
I'd originally met him through WWD. One
of the first designs of his every published in WWD was a photo
that I shot at his old atelier, worn by the lovely model Anna
Bayle. He told me he
had now banned them from his collections. I don't know why,
but Mr. Fairchild was often behind the scenes stirring up some
controversy, with some designer. He could be brutal at times
if he didn't like something.
I informed Azzedine that I no longer worked with them either,
and he immediately warmed up. His little dogs were always
barking and snapping at you when you'd come in. He thought
this was very funny. It was. It didn't bother me,
but I could see that he loved to see if people would get nervous
in reaction to them.
a Polariod of Steve Landis on the set
of the film, with a member of the art department.
in our scene was the hilariously funny Robert Blumenfeld, who played
the New York advertising executive. Robert
is a New York actor, who speaks many languages fluently, and is
a very interesting and entertaining conversationalist. In
the first part of the scene where I'm primarily acting just with
him, he leaves me in the dust so to speak. It was improv,
and he is just sensational. I was a rookie and was trying
to hang on for dear life. It was a wonderful experience.
the second part of the scene I had to actually shoot photos of Gerard
Depardieu, and direct him as I would in a real photo shoot.
They would shoot different angles for coverage, and I would try
to repeat what I'd just improvised. I found acting with Gerard
was easier than with Robert. But I was also playing myself,
at that point, and the ice was broken. I'll never forget though,
after they did the master shot and close-ups of Gerard and Julie
Ann, it was time for my close-ups. I had to repeat the whole
scene, while looking at a technician holding a pole with a bare
light bulb on it, pretending that it was Gerard and Julie.
They had gone off the set. It was at that point that it finally
sunk in, that's why they call it acting.
the photographer . .
Steve Landis shoots fashion and beauty imagery. New York based,
Steve Landis specializes in celebrity portraits, covers and editorial
pages for leading international magazines. His style
of artistic portrait photography is rich. Known for high quality
black and white photography, his portfolio work is sought after
by a select group of male models, female models, actors and
actresses Creating simple but powerful images are trademarks
of Landis' work.