1979 Polaroid of the camera crew filming Robert Redford’s ORDINARY PEOPLE

Just for fun, here’s a blast from the past. I found this Polaroid I took 33 years ago in November of 1979. It might not look like much, just some guys standing around. But it’s sort of a small piece of film history. It’s Robert Redford’s camera crew filming “Ordinary People” in Lake Forest, IL, at the intersection of Sheridan & Deerpath roads. Who’d have thought they were filming Oscar’s Best Picture for 1980.

The First Presbyterian church behind them appears in film’s opening credits. That’s cinematographer John Bailey in the light brown sport coat with his eye in the viewfinder. The kid in the photo, behind the fella with his arms clasped behind his back, is my friend Doug Winston.

If I recall correctly, what they’re filming in the above photo – the reason the camera, as you can see, isn’t pointed at the church – is a pick-up shot of Timothy Hutton walking down the sidewalk along Deerpath Road. A shot that wasn’t used in the film. And if I can dig up a photo of that, well … I’d be most lucky. 

Now referring, if you will, to the below video of the film’s opening credits. The shot filmed during this series of camera set-ups appears at 1:11 into the clip.  When watching, press pause and note the triangular walkways in front of the church – It’s a little hard to discern, but this can give you an idea as to the placement of the camera in the above photo in relation to the actual shot that appears in the film.


And here, simply enough, you’ve gotta love the guitar at 1:12.


About Stephen Slaughter Head

Stephen Slaughter Head co-founded the much-loved movie news website IGN FilmForce. He has more than 2,000 published articles at IGN.com. His filmmaking interviews, reviews and features have been published at AOL, Script magazine, Esquire magazine and the Boston Phoenix. He is also the host of the Diabolique Webcast at DiaboliqueMagazine.com. You can contact him directly on Twitter at twitter.com/stevehead.

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