July 23, 2018 Melvin Sokolsky

Robin Williams

It was in the early 1980s that I was asked to spend a day with the luminary actors of the day to shoot and direct a series of fundraising Live Aid commercials.

The room was so filled with a wave of egos I felt I would drown in the storm.

Robin Williams oddly took a seat next to the dolly where I was operating as cameraman/director and spent a few hours watching the performances . I had finished doing Robin’s piece, but he stayed seemingly enjoying the performances of the others.

I finished shooting Pee Wee Herman, who performed in his own inimitable way, when Robin touched my shoulder and said. “Boss are you open to try something?

I smiled and said. “it would be my pleasure” Robin asked me to ask Pee Wee Herman to participate. Pee Wee was pleased to improvise with Robin.

Robin’s instructions were to have Pee Wee do his piece with the exception of him stopping when Robin held up his hand to repeat what Pee Wee said in Russian. The piece was so innovative that the egos in the room burst into applause .

The script supervisor held up her hand and advised me the piece was three seconds too long. Robin smiled and said. “Boss I can do it again just wiggle your little finger on the operating wheel, three seconds before you want me to stop.

The camera crew laughed as in our experience in the many years we have done commercials no actor was able to repeat a performance or control their time. I said “let’s have a go. Script nudged me five seconds early. I wiggled my finger on the operating wheel at the three second time and Robin finished a better second take than the first.

More applause.

Robin was not driven by ego. He loved ideas and to possibilities the minds and energy could offer creatively.

Robin Williams, was an inspired imagination, sparked by instinctive observation.

It was my pleasure to watch magic come from imagination. I never felt that Robin had usurped my position as director. He proved experimentation inspired creativity.

I can say that Robin Williams was a great artist.

If you check the list of luminaries I have directed in the past sixty years, my complement to Robin is not to be taken lightly.

Melvin Sokolsky