George Spiro Dibie

Director of Photography


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

In his three-hour Archive interview, George Spiro Dibie discusses his childhood in Jerusalem and his passion for American films. He speaks of his move to Los Angeles as a youngster and of his start in the entertainment industry -- as a member of the electrical department at Fox. He details his rise up the ranks to Director of Photography and how his experience as an electrician and gaffer contributed to his expertise in cinematography. Dibie describes lighting techniques he invented (Dibie net, Dibie square), shares the myth about his work on pilot episodes, and explains his contributions to series Barney Miller, Growing Pains, Night Court, Just the Ten of Us and Sister, Sister, among others. Stephen J. Abramson conducted the interview on July 26, 2010 in Sherman Oaks, CA.

"You are in charge of the look. Especially the technical look more than anything.  You report to the director. I want to add that it's a collaboration - the director, cinematographer, production designer - these are the guys who are responsible for the look… The director directs us, and I bring his vision to the screen -  what he has on the brain, how he wants it to look. I do that for him."

People Talking About ...
Highlights
On the importance of smelling good in front of cast and crew - "Hi, Sexy"
On the challenges of lighting women
On the luck of every pilot he did becoming a series
On changing the way sitcoms were lit in the 1970s
On the main responsibility of the director of photography
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On his childhood in Jerusalem and love of films as a youngster; on moving to Los Angeles and his college years with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman; on his first jobs after college - as an electrician at Fox
On becoming a gaffer and creating Dibie-Dash Productions for documentary film work; on working as an electrician for television; on working with Barbra Streisand and Mary Tyler Moore
On creating the Dibie Net; on lighting for Barney Miller; on changing the standards for sitcom lighting in the 1970s

Chapter 2

On lighting for New Zoo Revue; on cinematography for Barney Miller; on the cast of Barney Miller
On cinematography for Buffalo Bill, Mr. Belvedere, and Growing Pains

Chapter 3

On cinematography for and the cast of Growing Pains; on cinematography for Night Court; on pilots he did for Warner Brothers; Murphy Brown, Head of the Class, Room For Two, Just the Ten of Us, Sister, Sister 
On differences between cinematography and director of photography; on the Cinematographer's Guild
On techniques he developed or utilizes: Dibie Square, OB, practical lighting, camera movements; on new technology and how he processes a script
On serving on the Board of Directors for The Television Academy; on developments for television cinematography
On advice to aspiring cinematographers; on how he'd like to be remembered
Shows

Barney Miller

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George Spiro Dibie on being the director of photography (D.P.) for Barney Miller and creating a distinctive look for the lighting
George Spiro Dibie on lighting Barney Miller
George Spiro Dibie on lighting multicamera, taped Barney Miller to look like a single camera show

Buffalo Bill

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Buffalo Bill

Growing Pains

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Growing Pains
George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Growing Pains and what he brought to the show
George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for and the cast of Growing Pains

Head of the Class

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Head of the Class

Just the Ten of Us

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Just the Ten of Us - the most fun he had on a show, but with some special lighting for actors' specific hairstyles

Mary's Incredible Dream

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Mary Tyler Moore's television special, Mary's Incredible Dream

Mr. Belvedere

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Mr. Belvedere

Murphy Brown

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown

New Zoo Revue

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George Spiro Dibie on the multi-camera children's show New Zoo Revue
George Spiro Dibie on lighting for New Zoo Revue

Night Court

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Night Court
George Spiro Dibie on working on Night Court

Room for Two

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Room for Two

Sister, Sister

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Sister, Sister
Topics

Emmy Awards

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George Spiro Dibie on the technique for which he won his first Emmy 
George Spiro Dibie on winning his first Emmy 
George Spiro Dibie on winning 2 Emmys for Growing Pains - largely for lighting night scenes
George Spiro Dibie on winning his 5th Emmy for Sister, Sister

Technological Innovation

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George Spiro Dibie on how new technology is always a work in progress
Professions

Cinematographer

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George Spiro Dibie on how being a gaffer helps cinematographers
George Spiro Dibie on making suggestions for D.P.s on various shows
George Spiro Dibie on telling actors to show audience 3/4 and not open up entirely - different from stage acting
George Spiro Dibie on the challenges of lighting women
George Spiro Dibie on the difference between cinematographer and director of photography

Lighting Director

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George Spiro Dibie on creating the Dibie Net to create pleasant lighting for women
Genres

Comedy Series

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George Spiro Dibie on being the director of photography (D.P.) for Barney Miller and creating a distinctive look for the lighting
George Spiro Dibie on lighting multicamera, taped program Barney Miller to look like a single camera show
People

Danny Arnold

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George Spiro Dibie on Danny Arnold's lighting preferences for Barney Miller
George Spiro Dibie on Danny Arnold

Candice Bergen

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen

James Burrows

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George Spiro Dibie on working with James Burrows on Night Court

Kirk Cameron

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Kirk Cameron

Ron Carey

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Ron Carey

Dabney Coleman

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Dabney Coleman

Geena Davis

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George Spiro Dibie on actress Geena Davis from Buffalo Bill

Leonardo DiCaprio

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Leonardo DiCaprio

Diane English

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown with Diane English

Farrah Fawcett

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Farrah Fawcett at the peak of her career

Max Gail

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Max Gail

Ron Glass

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Ron Glass

Tracey Gold

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actress Tracey Gold

Gene Hackman

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George Spiro Dibie on his college years with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman

Patricia Heaton

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Patricia Heaton

Howard Hesseman

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Howard Hesseman on Head of the Class

Christopher Hewett

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Christopher Hewett

Dustin Hoffman

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George Spiro Dibie on his college years with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman

James Wong Howe

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George Spiro Dibie on what he learned from cinematographers James Wong Howe and Harry Stradling, Sr.

Joanna Kerns

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George Spiro Dibie on actress Joanna Kerns
George Spiro Dibie on how Joanna Kerns is responsible for Tracey Gold getting help for anorexia

John Larroquette

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George Spiro Dibie on working with John Laroquette on Night Court

Linda Lavin

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George Spiro Dibie on Executive Producer Linda Lavin's lighting preferences

Hal Linden

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Hal Linden

Mary Tyler Moore

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Mary Tyler Moore on her television specials

Paul Newman

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Paul Newman on Billy the Kid

Merle Oberon

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George Spiro Dibie on the OB - named for cinematographer, Merle Oberon

Gregory Peck

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Gregory Peck

Markie Post

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Markie Post on Night Court

Harry Stradling, Sr.

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George Spiro Dibie on what he learned from cinematographers James Wong Howe and Harry Stradling, Sr.
George Spiro Dibie on Oscar-winning cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. being colorblind

Barbra Streisand

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George Spiro Dibie on the importance of smelling good in front of cast and crew; on his admiration of Barbra Streisand

Alan Thicke

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke

Danny Thomas

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George Spiro Dibie on trying to get a directing job from Danny Thomas

Abe Vigoda

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Abe Vigoda

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