Michael Ballhaus

Michael Ballhaus

Darsteller, Regie, Drehbuch, Kamera, Schnitt, Produzent, Produktionsleitung
*05.08.1935 Berlin; †12.04.2017 Berlin

Biography

Michael Ballhaus was born on August the 5th 1935 in Berlin as the son of two actors. After a two-year apperenticeship, he first worked as a stage photographer, before he started his carrer as a cinematographer for German network television in 1959.

In 1970, after shooting numerous TV-productions and some feature films, Ballhaus teamed up with cinema prodigy Rainer Werner Fassbinder. Their immensely productive professional relationship, which lasted for eight years, spawned 15 feature-length films, among them seminal works like "Whity", "Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant" ("The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant"), "Despair" and "Die Ehe der Maria Braun" ("The Marriage of Maria Braun").

In the early 1980s, Ballhaus started working on English-language productions, including films by John Sayles and James Foley as well as Volker Schlöndorff's adaptation of Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman".

Most importantly, it was his camerawork for Martin Scorsese (who collaborated with Ballhaus on almost all of his movies from 1984 on) which established Ballhaus as one of the most respected and sought-after directors of photography in Hollywood. Consequently, he moved with his family to the United States, and has yet never worked as DoP on a German feature film again.

Although being in constant demand by directors like Wolfgang Petersen, Robert Redford, Mike Nichols and Barry Levinson, Ballhaus still found the time to teach film courses at the University of Hamburg in the mid-1990s. Ballhaus to this day is one of the most prolific and respected German artists in Hollywood.

At the beginning of 2007, Michael Ballhaus announced his retirement from the DoP chair : At the age of 72, he declared that he would like to focus more on teaching and producing in the future. The same year, he incepted the "Ballhaus-Projekt", an environmentalist initiative campaigning for the responsible use of energy resources and the protection of the world's climate.

In October 2009, Ballhaus, who over the years has taught at several film schools, and Achim Poulheim became co-heads of the camera department at the Hamburg Media School. He continued his teaching engagements: Since 2010, Ballhaus has been head of the cinematography department at the HFF Munich, and in 2015, he was a guest professor at Leuphana University.

Ballhaus presented his documentary "In Berlin" (co-directed by Ciro Cappellari) at the 2009 Berlin IFF. His first work as a director, it is a personal portrait of his birthplace, in which celebrities and inhabitants present their own perspective on the city. Ballhaus and his sister Ulla next made the TV documentary "Unser Franken" (2010), in which they portray Franconia and its people.

Ballhaus once more served as DoP, shooting Sherry Hormann's "3096 Tage" ("3096 Days"), a dramatized account of the kidnapping of Natascha Kampbusch, who was held captive for more than eight years.

Michael Ballhaus's second son Florian (born 1965), is also a successful cinematographer in the US.

On April 12, 2017, Michael Ballhaus died in his native city Berlin at age 81.

Filmography

2012/2013 3096 Tage
Director of photography
 
2011 Peter Lilienthal
Participation
 
2011 Das Kino und sein Double: Erinnerungen an Rainer Werner Fassbinders "Despair"
Participation
 
2010 Von der Liebe und den Zwängen
Participation
 
2010 Unser Franken
Director
 
2009-2011 Die verlorene Zeit
Associate producer
 
2009 Mit dem Boot nach Hollywood – Wolfgang Petersen
Participation
 
2008/2009 In Berlin
Director, Screenplay, Director of photography, Editing
 
2008 Michael Ballhaus - Eine Reise durch mein Leben
Participation
 
2008 Eisblume
Line producer
 
2007/2008 Auge in Auge - Eine deutsche Filmgeschichte
Participation
 
2004 Triell
Director of photography
 
2002/2003 Fassbinder in Hollywood
Participation
 
2002-2005 Wer ist Helene Schwarz?
Participation
 
2000 Für mich gab's nur noch Fassbinder
Participation
 
2000 Gone Underground
Director of photography
 
1998/1999 The 13th Floor - Bist du was du denkst?
Executive producer
 
1997 In Bar
Director of photography
 
1996/1997 Air Force One
Director of photography
 
1996 Der Sonnenkuss
Director of photography
 
1994/1995 Outbreak
Director of photography
 
1994/1995 Die Nacht der Regisseure
Participation
 
1994/1995 Vom Tatort zur Traumfabrik. Deutsche Filmemacher zurück in Hollywood
Participation
 
1992 Ich will nicht nur, daß ihr mich liebt. Der Filmemacher Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Participation
 
1985 Tod eines Handlungsreisenden
Director of photography
 
1985 Robert Redford in Sundance
Cast
 
1983/1984 Ediths Tagebuch
Director of photography
 
1983/1984 Das Autogramm
Director of photography
 
1982/1983 Heller Wahn
Director of photography
 
1981/1982 Der Zauberberg
Director of photography
 
1981/1982 Dear Mr. Wonderful
Director of photography
 
1981 Looping - Der lange Traum vom kurzen Glück
Director of photography
 
1981 Heute spielen wir den Boss - Wo geht's denn hier zum Film?
Director of photography
 
1980/1981 Malou
Director of photography
 
1980 Der Auslöser
Director of photography
 
1980 Weihnacht 80. EP 3: Das Menschenkindl
Director of photography
 
1980 Weihnacht 80. EP 1: Maria und Josef
Director of photography
 
1980 Der deutsche Frühling
Director of photography
 
1980 Lili Marleen
Director of photography
 
1979/1980 Der Aufstand
Director of photography
 
1979/1980 Groß und klein
Director of photography
 
1979/1980 Kindheit in Amacueca
Director of photography, Unit production manager
 
1978/1979 Trilogie des Wiedersehens
Director of photography
 
1978/1979 Die erste Polka
Director of photography
 
1978/1979 Bourbon Street Blues
Director of photography
 
1978 Die Ehe der Maria Braun
Cast, Director of photography
 
1978 Der Gehilfe
Director of photography
 
1977/1978 Spiel der Verlierer
Cast
 
1977/1978 Eine Reise ins Licht - Despair
Director of photography
 
1977/1978 Deutschland im Herbst
Director of photography
 
1977/1978 Deutschland im Herbst. Episode 02: Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Director of photography
 
1977/1978 Venedig - Die Insel der Glückseligen am Rande des Untergangs
Director of photography
 
1977 Frauen in New York
Director of photography
 
1976/1983 Bolwieser
Director of photography
 
1976/1977 Bolwieser
Director of photography
 
1976/1977 Curd Jürgens - Der Filmstar, der vom Theater kam
Director of photography
 
1976/1977 Nur zum Spaß - nur zum Spiel. Kaleidoskop Valeska Gert
Director of photography
 
1976-1978 Der kleine Godard
Cast
 
1976 Auf dem Chimborazo
Director of photography
 
1976 Sonntag
Director of photography
 
1976 Also es war so...
Director of photography
 
1976 Chinesisches Roulette
Director of photography
 
1976 Adolf und Marlene
Director of photography
 
1975/1976 Ich will doch nur, daß ihr mich liebt
Director of photography
 
1975/1976 Die Wahl
Director of photography
 
1975/1976 Satansbraten
Cast, Director of photography
 
1975 Dorothea Merz
Director of photography
 
1975 Sommergäste
Director of photography
 
1975 Mutter Küsters' Fahrt zum Himmel
Director of photography
 
1974/1975 Das Amulett des Todes
Director of photography
 
1974/1975 Faustrecht der Freiheit
Director of photography
 
1974 Aus der Familie der Panzerechsen
Director of photography
 
1974 Rosenmontag
Director of photography
 
1974 Die Insel
Director of photography
 
1974 Made in Germany und USA
Director of photography
 
1973/1974 Martha
Director of photography
 
1973 Tote brauchen keine Wohnung
Director of photography
 
1973 Das sündige Bett
Director of photography
 
1973 Welt am Draht
Director of photography
 
1972/1973 Ich bin Bürger der DDR
Director of photography
 
1972 Der Held
Director of photography
 
1972 Tschetan, der Indianerjunge
Director of photography
 
1972 Adele Spitzeder
Director of photography
 
1972 Der Marquis von Keith
Director of photography
 
1972 Tödlicher Poker
Director of photography
 
1971/1972 Die bitteren Tränen der Petra von Kant
Director of photography
 
1971 Sand
Director of photography
 
1971 Der trojanische Sessel
Assistant camera
 
1971 Die Verabredung mit der Wirklichkeit
Director, Director of photography
 
1970/1971 Warnung vor einer heiligen Nutte
Director of photography
 
1970/1971 Whity
Director of photography
 
1970/1971 Fassbinder produziert: Film Nr. 8
Director, Director of photography, Producer
 
1969/1970 Wir - zwei
Director of photography
 
1969 Deine Zärtlichkeiten
Director of photography
 
1968/1969 Der Kidnapper
Director of photography
 
1968/1969 Darf ich Sie zur Mutter machen?
Director of photography
 
1968 Der Eine und der Andere
Director of photography
 
1968 Gold für Montevasall
Director of photography
 
1968 Ganze Tage in den Bäumen
Director of photography
 
1966 Ein Haus aus lauter Liebe
Director of photography
 
1965/1966 Abschied
Director of photography
 
1965/1966 Große Liebe
Director of photography
 
1965 Der große Wildenberg - Ein Feuilleton
Director of photography
 
1964 Das Martyrium des Peter O'Hey
Director of photography
 
1963 Der Klassenaufsatz
Director of photography
 
1961 Zwischen den Zügen
Director of photography
 
1960/1961 Die Nashörner
Director of photography
 
1960/1961 Die Kassette
Director of photography
 
1960 Die Nachbarskinder
Director of photography
 
1959-1961 Traumland der Sehnsucht
Director of photography
 
1959 Das Genie und die Göttin
Director of photography
 
1959 Alt-Heidelberg
Director of photography
 
1959 Der Kirschgarten
Director of photography
 

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