Saying Goodbye to Brother Lezynski

Local 600 DIT David Lezynski died in September 2021

February 14, 2022
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“David summarized his career and talent best with this quote,” says fellow Local 600 DIT Tony Salgado. “‘I can usually figure out what to do, when we don’t know what to do.’

Marin County-based Local 600 DIT David Lezynski, who passed away in September 2021, had always been a jack-of-all-trades. He worked as a soundman, video engineer, and digital imaging technician (DIT). In fact, he was early to the game when Sony, Panavision, and LUCASFILM began to pioneer the industry from motion picture emulsion to the digital recording world. When hired by Lucas, he was the only Local 600 member with the title “Digital Vision Engineer,” which has now become DIT.

His work spanned the commercial, music video, and documentary worlds, adding his enthusiasm and technical knowledge to projects captured around the world.

He was always busy preparing and tinkling with technology to make it better for the job on every assignment. “I remember one live job, where he finally sat down and was asked, humorously, by the producer, ‘Are you happy now?’ He replied, “‘Happy?’ I’m not happy, but I’m ready,” says friend Jonathan Doff.

Producer Debra Bassett worked with Lezynski for over four decades. When asked about his passing, she got together with Stewart Barbee and Jamie Murdock to recall some “Lezynski” stories. “Besides being the most honest, straightforward, humorous person, I have known, his heart of gold was bigger than all outdoors,” she says. “He tirelessly mentored everyone – and had a soft spot for the homeless.”

She recalls one particular job about a prestigious Yale University Professor, with Lezynski at her side. “Dave was a lover of aviation, and he enjoyed fabulous food and drink, so he was particularly excited about traveling in a private jet for the duration of our shoot. The plane was well stocked with the finest foods and wine.

“During one flight, in particular, Dave, being his silly self, held two lobsters’ tails up to his ears and exclaimed, ‘Lobsters! I’ve eaten so many they’re coming out of my ears!

“When filming was concluded, we landed back in San Francisco on  New Year’s Eve. Prior to debarking the plane, even though Dave was tired from months of work and travel, he took the time to ask if he could please pack up the abundance of remaining food and drink from the flight so that he could deliver it all to a group of homeless individuals he knew in Oakland.”

His teaching was gentle, and his mentoring was done with love.

Producer and DGA AD Garrett Freberg remembers the first time he met Lezynski. He was new to the industry and had a small job with a new production company to learn to be a PA. “On day one, I met this man who was recording sound, and he yelled at me that I was rolling up his cable the wrong way,” Freberg recalls. “Confused and kinda sad, I threw it down and said, ‘can you teach me how to do it then?’ He took the time to show me the ‘over/under’ way of wrapping any cable not related to the grip/electric guys. From that moment on, he taught me everything – from tracking my daily comings and goings to keeping track of mileage, how to book myself, and even how to clean an old Nagra and more. He took me on jobs all over Northern California – and as far away as Nepal. We talked and laughed and ate. I would not have been a 20-year member of the DGA without the sage advice of my BUBBIE, David Lezynski.”

Director of Photography John Behrens, who primarily shoots feature-length documentaries for Netflix, Disney, PBS, HBO, and more, says the “little things” that Lezynski taught him and his enthusiastic attention are with him today. “Whenever I asked David if a certain camera configuration would work, he would say, ‘You have to rehearse every setup you’re ever going to employ on set. That means completely building it up in prep to make sure it’s going to work on set. Once you’ve done that, you can say you own it. Remember not to say you own something that you don’t. Rehearse. Rehearse. Rehearse.’ That bit of advice has kept many very complicated setups from bringing many productions to a halt.”

“Whenever some new camera or technology was announced, Dave would be on the other end of an exuberant phone call, eager to further his knowledge and prognosticate about how we as fellow DITs might incorporate new tools and workflows into our repertoires,” says Jordan Livingston. “In recent years (before COVID), I began a local Bay area DIT/DMT meetup, and Dave was always reliable in attendance, a devoted ambassador for our craft and for the sustainability of our local community. The first to arrive and the last to leave, he always kept the party going.”

Bassett adds. “If we each could hear Dave’s comments while honoring him at his Memorial Celebration, he would like to say, ‘Hey Bub, I’m okay. Please don’t worry about me. I’m on a special assignment, flying higher than the highest mountain tops and far about the clouds. I love you, and I’m watching over you until we meet again, somewhere over the rainbow. QUACK!’

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