The patriarch of the Starkman clan, Leon Starkman was a surgeon by profession, a closet cinematographer in his off hours. An amateur photographer his entire life, Leon never missed an opportunity to document his brood's most embarrassing moments.
Leon was rarely seen without his trusty Super 8 film camera. And so the early images of his family--the traumatic road trips, the awkward parties, the crying fits--remain alive to this day. This living treasure, such as it is, has recently been edited into a complete story, by Leon's middle daughter, director+photographer Judy Starkman.
Clearly impacted by her father’s passion, young Judy quickly learned at an early age that having a camera in one's hand afforded many opportunities for exploration (or blackmail, depending on how you look at it). But more importantly, cameras were far more interesting than traditional girl toys, and gave young Judy an excuse to explore unusual places. So, with her first Brownie instamatic in hand, Judy began documenting her environs.
Judy studied journalism and sociology in San Francisco in order to have a respectable job. But we all know those aren’t very much fun. Her innate curiosity and general brazenness led her to London where she worked as a journalist for ABC, CNN, and CBS for many years. Judy was never without her camera and shot still photographs for many publications at that time.
For Judy the highlights of those years in London were not meeting dignitaries on airport tarmacs or reporting on the Royals. Rather her best times were spent mastering London by bicycle, discovering the best cappuccino in Soho, and spending four months in Budapest photographing swimming pools (another favorite subject). A proud moment was seeing one of her images hang in the National Portrait Gallery.
The notion of having an automatic garage door and an electric garbage disposal was tempting enough to bring Starkman to Los Angeles, but it was her directorial debut on a four part documentary television series for ITV that landed her in Hollywood.
Many more documentaries followed, along with a number of awards, official representation, commercials, public art installations, a husband, and two beloved, if not ill-behaved dogs. And the adventure continues.
As for all those odd moments captured on film by her would-be director father, Judy admits they have most certainly shaped her vision as a photographer and a director. To this day, she seeks out the authentic, if not unconventional, sometimes uncomfortable side to every story she pursues.
You can see some of Judy's childhood adventures in "The Lost Films of Leon Starkman" by visiting the video gallery.