A moment to pause

This past week I received the news of the passing of director Reza Badiyi. He’s not a household name, like Spielberg or Scorsese, but anyone who’s worked with Reza knew he left his mark on the industry.

As a director, Reza helmed more than 430 episodes of television, plus features and documentaries. Badiyi came to the US from Iran in the 1950s to study at Syracuse University. His career journey took him to Kansas City where he was a protégé to Robert Altman, working for him as a cinematographer and assistant director. This eventually led to Hollywood where he became one of the DGA’s most prolific directors, covering an amazing range of genres including The Doris Day Show, Mission Impossible, T. J. Hooker, Falcon Crest, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Baywatch and even Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

I had the fortune of working with Reza on two feature films produced through the Valencia College film technology program in central Florida, The First of May and The Way Back Home. I edited both, but his involvement in the first was as a consultant, so my exposure was brief. He directed the second – apparently his last film – so, there our connection was closer, as director and editor.

The interesting twist was that when it came time to work through the director’s cut on the film, Reza was invited to be one of the judges in an international film festival held in his home country of Iran. Since he came to the US during the time of the Shah, he felt he couldn’t pass up this opportunity. After all, the influence of Iranian expats throughout the international film world is quite large. In any case, we worked through a producer’s cut first while Reza was away and then readdressed his notes upon his safe return. That’s the reverse of the typical process, but we absolutely wanted Reza’s input to the cut, so we happily made the schedule accommodations.

As an editor, I always appreciate working with a director who can quickly review the options, make a decision and move on. Not to mention offering creative solutions that have escaped everyone else. Reza fit that to a tee. He was known for his level of minute organization among crew, but he was equally organized in the edit room and that’s something that can’t be underestimated. With Reza’s passing, the industry has lost a great mentor. Godspeed.

©2011 Oliver Peters