WHO NEEDS SLEEP?
Haskell Wexler, ASC (5 time Oscar Nominee and 2 time recipient for Best Cinematography for Who's Afraid of Virginia Wolf, Bound For Glory, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, Matewan, Blaze)
Los Angeles, CA. -- Though it has been six years since Haskell Wexler, ASC, released his eye-opening documentary Who Needs Sleep? at the Sundance Film Festival, the topic of sleep deprivation and its effects on those who work long hours are still being debated. In fact, recent findings that prove sleep deprivation is, indeed, a public health epidemic have led to the Institute of Medicine encouraging collaboration between the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Center on Sleep Disorders Research (NCSDR). The studies emerging from this collaboration have made it abundantly clear that Wexler’s labor of love is more topical today than ever before. NPR’s Talk Of The Nation agrees, citing Who Needs Sleep? as the number one film about Hollywood on February 23, 2012.
The idea for the film began for Wexler after the death of assistant cameraman, Brent Hershman, in 1997 after he fell asleep at the wheel while driving home from a 19-hour day on the set of the film, Pleasantville. The public outcry at the time was fierce and over ten thousand individuals signed a petition endorsing “Brent’s Rules,” which called for a drastic reduction in the number of working hours a film crew could work. At the time the documentary was finally released, in 2006, there had been no significant improvements in the Hollywood work environment and there had, in fact, been several more sleep-related fatalities.
Interviews with some of Hollywood’s most respected professionals and celebrities, including Julia Roberts,
, Tom Hanks, John Sayles, Sam Mendes, Billy Crystal, Annette Bening, Vittorio Storaro, ASC and Richard Zanuck pepper this “sharp but entertaining wake-up call to the film industry,” while insightful commentary from specialists, doctors and scientists who study sleep deprivation add gravity to the proceedings.
Many of the results of new studies conducted by the CDC, the NCSDR and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) now serve to corroborate much of what is said in Wexler’s documentary, including the fact that “the highest proportion of the most serious crashes are sleepiness related.” Conclusions of the “Drowsy Driving And Automobile Crashes Study,” compiled in 2011, show that most sleep-related crashes involve a single vehicle leaving the roadway, that the driver does not attempt to avoid crashing, the driver is most often alone in the vehicle and the crashes most often occur on highways and major roadways with speed limits of 55 to 65.
As more research is conducted and high-level organizations take notice, visionary films like Haskell Wexler’s Who Needs Sleep? become vital tools in the continuing campaign to change industry standards. As of a breakthrough screening at the Labourstart 2010 Global Solidarity Conference, a large number of university professors and union educators have been using the film as part of their curriculum, while 12ON/12OFF has gained a foothold with regular screenings for industry workers and enhanced petition efforts. NPR’s reminder in February of this year about this topical film only serves to emphasize its importance. To find out more about this ongoing problem and what you can do to stay informed, visit www.12on12off.com, www.cdc.gov/sleep or www.HaskellWexler.com
Contact Joe Venegas at 714-944-4045 for more details or to discuss potential story ideas for this unique opportunity. Find out more about The American Society of Cinematographers, American Cinematographer Magazine, and ASC programs at www.theasc.com.
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