William Heick (1916-2012)

William Heick in 2007. Photograph by Christopher Flach. Wikimead Commons.

William Heick was a leading US documentary photographer, who worked in many different parts of the world, mostly in black-and-white. But he was also a cinematographer and in this capacity, he was involved in ethnographic film-making in two particular periods of his life.

In the early 1950s, while working with Orbit Films in Seattle in collaboration with Sidney Peterson and Robert Gardner, he shot and edited three films about the Kwakwaka’wakw: Blunden Harbour and two different films with the title Dances of the Kwakiutl. One of these is in colour and the other in black-and-white, but the content and also running times of the two films is quite different. All these films were produced in 1951.

Later, between 1961 and 1964, he shot and edited a number of films about Native American communities for the American Indian Films Project (AIFP), directed by the anthropologist Samuel A. Barrett (1879-1965) and sponsored by the University of California.

Text: Jacknis 2000.