- You had a very interesting career with Deluxe Laboratories, Ron. I think the readers would be interested in learning something about how you got started there?
My background was in the Aerospace industry prior to joining Deluxe. I was a Field Engineer working in the areas of Strategic and Tactical reconnaissance Imaging. I met the President of Deluxe Laboratories by happenstance. He felt that my background was interesting and that I would be a good fit at Deluxe to work closely with Cinematographers.
- Could you describe to my readers the type of services that Deluxe Laboratories offered, and your position there?
The old Fox studios that became Deluxe starting in 1915
Deluxe Laboratories was a Motion Picture film processing lab that began in 1915. Everything from Dailies to Release Prints were processed.I was Vice President of Production Services.
Deluxe offices occupying what was an old apartment building next to the Fox lot.
- Working with the studios you came into contact with some legendary celebrities, could you share a story or two, those which you consider some of your most memorable?
Yes I did meet many celebrities and had many wonderful experiences. But my most memorable times were the ones where the Directors and Cinematographers that I worked with have won awards for their efforts. Over the years, a number of these artists became my friends…and it was an honor to be part of their “Team”. One of the more memorable moments for me was with “Dances with Wolves.” A good friend, Dean Semler ASC, ACS was the cinematographer and won the Academy Award for cinematography for his efforts. What made this even more special for me was that my wife and I were at the Awards that night, and were there to see him receive this honor firsthand, and to attend the Governors Ball with Dean and his wife Annie after the ceremony.
“Dances with Wolves” (1990)
Another highlight for me was when another friend Roy Wagner ASC, also an Award winning Cinematographer was nominated by his peers at the American Society of Cinematographers for the television miniseries “Drug Wars”. Roy was away on location and should he win, asked me to receive the award in his behalf at the Annual ASC Awards.. He won. I was so proud that he asked me to do this…I will always remember that night. I consider myself to be quite lucky to have been able to meet and work with so many great people over the years. Making a movie is not an easy job. These folks really put their hearts and souls into their work.
“Drug Wars” (TV miniseries. 1990)
All motion pictures do not receive awards…but to me, they are all special because of what they represent….dedication, creativity, and a commitment on the part of everyone connected with each and every one of them.
Undeveloped 35mm film
- Over the years, motion picture film has been replaced by digital imaging. I know some directors today for artistic reasons still prefer strip film over digital. Do you see it making a comeback? And I’ve noticed recently that members of our younger generation are embracing vinyl records over digital recordings due to the fullness and warmth of sound they feel is missing with the latter. Along these same lines could you also compare film to digital, and perhaps, expound on each of their advantages and disadvantages?
All of my time at Deluxe was spent with film. The industry was in the early stages of change when I retired. Deluxe was expanding to meet the challenges of this new technology. I was always a fan of new technology, probably due to my background in the Aerospace industry. My personal feeling is that film is a technology that has been in use for approximately 100 years. That’s what I would call quite an accomplishment. Not all technologies can claim that longevity.
Old newsreel camera
It is my understanding that film is still available to those who choose to use it. As we continue the move to digital, I can understand how some would miss the film medium. It’s an old friend to many and it’s hard to part with old friends. But I also think that digital should be viewed as a new tool that offers new possibilities for all of the creative minds to use to tell their stories in ways that were not always as easy to accomplish with film. There are also many compelling monetary considerations that come into play. For me, embracing new technology is exciting, and I look forward to seeing more great things to emerge with its’ use.
- Finally, I know you are a great film buff; could you share with my readers some of your favorite films, both classic and contemporary? Please include any favorite cinematographers and directors.
As I mentioned earlier…EVERY motion picture is wonderful…To reveal my personal favorites would make me feel unfaithful to all the others. This mindset also applies to the great artists that create each one. How’s that for ducking a question?
Ron Koch with Tony Piazza
- Thank you, Ron for taking the time to share your fascinating story with my readers. I appreciate it very much.
Tony Piazza (Courtesy of Charlotte Alexander)
Tony Piazza is author of the 1930s Hollywood murder mystery novel, “Anything Short of Murder,” which had its roots on the TCM fan website. His second novel, “The Curse of the Crimson Dragon” was published next in early 2012, and in November of 2013 his second Tom Logan Mystery, “A Murder Amongst Angels was released.” In July of 2015 his latest Logan mystery, “Murder Is Such Sweet Revenge” was made available for purchase, and has since been an instant bestseller. All are available on Amazon and Barnes & Noble websites. He was an actor/extra during the 1970s and worked with such legends as Steve McQueen, Paul Newman, and Karl Malden. His non-fiction e-book “Bullitt Points” is an in depth look at the making of “Bullitt” from a person who was there. Look for it on Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, or at the link posted below. All profits go to the Boys Republic charity: www.bullittpoints.com.
Tony Piazza is a member of Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime, and SLO NightWriters.