Douglas C. Hart, who served as an Assistant Camera Operator on more than 50 feature films including Woody Allen‘s Manhattan and Robert Benton‘s Oscar winner Kramer vs. Kramer, died on Tuesday, May 16 while under hospice care at an assisted living facility in New York City. He was 73.
Born on Feb. 18, 1950, in Harlem, NY, Hart grew up surrounded by the entertainment business, as his father, Robert, was an IATSE Local 52 grip card holder. Doug and his brother Randy followed in their father’s footsteps, though eventually, Doug gravitated toward the camera department.
He was considered one of Hollywood’s finest camera technicians, having worked with many of the industry’s top camera crews on films, commercials, and several documentaries. In addition to Manhattan, he worked with Allen on Hannah and Her Sisters, The Purple Rose of Cairo, Broadway Danny Rose, Stardust Memories, and Zelig, five of which were shot by one of Hart’s heroes, Gordon Willis. The two of them also worked on The Money Pit together.
Hart served as the “B” Camera First Assistant on a number of memorable movies including Malcolm X (1992), What’s Eating Gilbert Grape (1993), Private Parts (1997), Stepmom (1998), and Girl, Interrupted (1999). He also wrote three books — The Camera Assistant: A Complete Professional Handbook, Sherlock Holmes on the Screen, and The Christopher Lee Film Encyclopedia.
Beyond his accomplishments in the field, Hart was most proud of mentoring younger filmmakers, as he genuinely loved sharing his knowledge. He taught hundreds of eager young cinematographers over the years on the sets of his projects, in classes he designed at the Maine Photographic Seminars, and as part of the many workshops he initiated that were sponsored by his union, IATSE Local 600.
Indeed, Hart was a proud union man, as he was an officer in Local 644 and Local 600, as well as a perennial executive board member throughout his entire career. He was outspoken, fearless, honest to a fault, and devoted to the precepts of unionism. Blessed with an unwaveringly strong moral compass, he was unshakable, often exasperating, and almost always right — even when being right was not the politically prudent thing to do. That is why the people who knew him well loved him so much.
About a year ago, Hart suffered a brain aneurysm, which disrupted his quiet and peaceful retirement. He was placed in rehab and then in an assisted living facility, where his brother, Randy was at his side when he passed along with his good friend, Cinematographer Gabor Kover.
Hart will be considerably missed and his memory treasured by family, friends, and colleagues alike. R.I.P.