Martin Scorsese shared some kind words about his longtime friend and collaborator Michael Ballhaus, who passed away at the age of 81 on Tuesday evening after a short illness. The director and the cinematographer worked together on six films, including the Oscar-winning drama The Departed.
The two started working together in the ’80s, “It was Michael who really gave me back my sense of excitement in making movies. For him, nothing was impossible,” Scorsese wrote in a statement sent to Deadline. “If I asked him for something difficult, he would approach it with enthusiasm.”
Aside from The Departed, Ballhaus did cinematography for Scorsese’s After Hours (1985), The Color of Money (1986), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), Goodfellas (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993) and Gangs of New York (2002).
Read his full statement below:
“For over 20 years, Michael Ballhaus and I had a real creative partnership, and a very close and enduring friendship. By the time we met, he had already made film history with Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and I revered him. He was a lovely human being, and he always had a warm smile for even the toughest situations—anyone who knew him will remember his smile. We started working together in the 80s, during a low ebb in my career. And it was Michael who really gave me back my sense of excitement in making movies. For him, nothing was impossible. If I asked him for something difficult, he would approach it with enthusiasm: he never told me we couldn’t do something, and he loved to be challenged. If we were running out of time and light, he would figure out a way to work faster. And if we were behind schedule and getting into a situation where we had to eliminate set-ups, he would sit down with me calmly and we would work it out together: instead of getting frustrated about what was being taken away, he would always think in terms of what we had. Really, he gave me an education, and he changed my way of thinking about what it is to make a film. He was a great artist. He was also a precious and irreplaceable friend, and this is a great loss for me.”