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."

Highlights
On the importance of smelling good in front of cast and crew - "Hi, Sexy"
01:06
On the challenges of lighting women
01:08
On the luck of every pilot he did becoming a series
00:46
On changing the way sitcoms were lit in the 1970s
00:40
On the main responsibility of the director of photography
00:50
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
08:51
George Spiro Dibie on lighting Barney Miller
01:22
George Spiro Dibie on lighting multicamera, taped Barney Miller to look like a single camera show
26:02

Buffalo Bill

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Buffalo Bill
08:11

Growing Pains

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Growing Pains
02:12
George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Growing Pains and what he brought to the show
08:27
George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for and the cast of Growing Pains
04:49

Head of the Class

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Head of the Class
01:30

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
02:10

Mary's Incredible Dream

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Mary Tyler Moore's television special, Mary's Incredible Dream
06:16

Mr. Belvedere

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Mr. Belvedere
12:26

Murphy Brown

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown
01:57

New Zoo Revue

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George Spiro Dibie on the multi-camera children's show New Zoo Revue
00:55
George Spiro Dibie on lighting for New Zoo Revue
01:51

Night Court

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Night Court
08:01
George Spiro Dibie on working on Night Court
03:44

Room for Two

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Room for Two
01:49

Sister, Sister

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George Spiro Dibie on cinematography for Sister, Sister
04:53
Topics

Emmy Awards

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George Spiro Dibie on the technique for which he won his first Emmy 
00:51
George Spiro Dibie on winning his first Emmy 
03:03
George Spiro Dibie on winning 2 Emmys for Growing Pains - largely for lighting night scenes
01:41
George Spiro Dibie on winning his 5th Emmy for Sister, Sister
01:09

Technological Innovation

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George Spiro Dibie on how new technology is always a work in progress
01:06
Professions

Cinematographer

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George Spiro Dibie on how being a gaffer helps cinematographers
00:34
George Spiro Dibie on making suggestions for D.P.s on various shows
00:35
George Spiro Dibie on telling actors to show audience 3/4 and not open up entirely - different from stage acting
00:57
George Spiro Dibie on the challenges of lighting women
01:08
George Spiro Dibie on the difference between cinematographer and director of photography
01:11

Lighting Director

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George Spiro Dibie on creating the Dibie Net to create pleasant lighting for women
03:15
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
08:51
George Spiro Dibie on lighting multicamera, taped program Barney Miller to look like a single camera show
26:02
People

Danny Arnold

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George Spiro Dibie on Danny Arnold's lighting preferences for Barney Miller
06:16
George Spiro Dibie on Danny Arnold
01:51

Candice Bergen

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown with Candice Bergen
01:16

James Burrows

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George Spiro Dibie on working with James Burrows on Night Court
00:13

Kirk Cameron

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Kirk Cameron
02:04

Ron Carey

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Ron Carey
00:49

Dabney Coleman

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Dabney Coleman
01:25

Geena Davis

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George Spiro Dibie on actress Geena Davis from Buffalo Bill
00:57

Leonardo DiCaprio

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Leonardo DiCaprio
00:46

Diane English

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George Spiro Dibie on working on Murphy Brown with Diane English
01:57

Farrah Fawcett

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George Spiro Dibie on lighting Farrah Fawcett at the peak of her career
02:07

Max Gail

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Max Gail
00:24

Ron Glass

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Ron Glass
00:13

Tracey Gold

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actress Tracey Gold
00:36

Gene Hackman

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George Spiro Dibie on his college years with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman
01:18

Patricia Heaton

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Patricia Heaton
00:35

Howard Hesseman

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Howard Hesseman on Head of the Class
01:14

Christopher Hewett

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Christopher Hewett
00:12

Dustin Hoffman

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George Spiro Dibie on his college years with Gene Hackman and Dustin Hoffman
01:18

James Wong Howe

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George Spiro Dibie on what he learned from cinematographers James Wong Howe and Harry Stradling, Sr.
02:47

Joanna Kerns

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George Spiro Dibie on actress Joanna Kerns
00:35
George Spiro Dibie on how Joanna Kerns is responsible for Tracey Gold getting help for anorexia
00:24

John Larroquette

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George Spiro Dibie on working with John Laroquette on Night Court
00:14

Linda Lavin

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George Spiro Dibie on Executive Producer Linda Lavin's lighting preferences
00:57

Hal Linden

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Hal Linden
00:20

Mary Tyler Moore

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Mary Tyler Moore on her television specials
06:40

Paul Newman

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Paul Newman on Billy the Kid
02:07

Merle Oberon

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George Spiro Dibie on the OB - named for cinematographer, Merle Oberon
01:42

Gregory Peck

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Gregory Peck
01:17

Markie Post

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George Spiro Dibie on working with Markie Post on Night Court
00:24

Harry Stradling, Sr.

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George Spiro Dibie on what he learned from cinematographers James Wong Howe and Harry Stradling, Sr.
05:33
George Spiro Dibie on Oscar-winning cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. being colorblind
01:07

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
01:06

Alan Thicke

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George Spiro Dibie on Growing Pains actor Alan Thicke
01:23

Danny Thomas

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George Spiro Dibie on trying to get a directing job from Danny Thomas
00:31

Abe Vigoda

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George Spiro Dibie on actor Abe Vigoda
00:32

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