Ricky Leacock, at the ripe age of 89 has moved along, dead in Paris where he’d lived some time. Leacock was a pioneer in “cinema verite,” very early on working to make 16mm, and super 8 cameras, and later video cameras, light and portable as possible. I met him a few times, once in Cambridge where I’d had a screening of Last Chants for a Slow Dance. Indicative of his sense of humor, he invited me for dinner and served rabbit stew.
Out of Leacock’s MIT classes came a stream of filmmakers, adopting in their own ways his fly-on-a-wall aesthetic, who’ve made a mark in the filmworld. I’ve met a handful of them – Michel Negroponte and Ross McElwee, and a few others in passing. Of course now with camcorders, cell phones and the ubiquitous camera eye almost everywhere, and the internet sites of YouTube and Vimeo it is difficult to recall how hard it once was to get an image and sound. Leacock was one of those leading the way, and his influence is wide and deep.