Neil Reichline’s mother warned him about being an artist. She had grown up in a family of artists and to her it was a risky, insecure life. Neil sometimes felt that art might be his destiny but for a long time he resisted the call. In high school he joined the debate team, played football and was editor of the paper. He was going to be a lawyer.
At the end of his sophomore year at UCLA he was named Editor-in-Chief of the Daily Bruin, a paper with an everyday readership of 30,000. That summer, at 20 years old, he volunteered as a civil rights worker with Dr. Martin Luther King in Georgia. He also went to the Meredith March in Mississippi and took a camera. He thrilled at being inside the moment, trying to capture its essence. He learned photography and then cinematography with an MFA from UCLA Film School, after which he began a twelve year period of shooting and making documentaries.
Neil survived filming on the streets of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago and a film on Black Panther Bobby Seale running for Mayor of Oakland. He shot the first non-stop hot air balloon trip across the U.S. and a documentary about AIDS for junior high school students. He lived for months at 14,000 feet in the Bolivian Andes shooting movies on the Aymara Indians and traveled to the Ararat Mountains of Turkey to film a search for Noah’s Ark.
Neil was Director of Photography on Lynne Littman’s Academy Award winning documentary “Number Our Days”. He also shot artist Ed Ruscha’s two films, first “Crackers” then “Miracle” which screened on the opening night of the Getty Museum in Los Angeles.
In a turbulent period in history Neil crafted his own films as well. He chronicled then Stanford Student Body President David Harris before he went to jail for resisting the draft, and made another film about a group of like minded people in the Navy town of San Diego trying to stop an aircraft carrier from returning to the air war in Southeast Asia. Traveling to Nicaragua at the end of the revolution there he documented the music and poetry of the Sandinistas with the new cultural minister, priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal.
During most of this period Neil lived in a community in the hills above Palo Alto with his high school sweetheart Norma Shapiro. They married and had two sons, Eli and Alex. Norma, creative as well, became an internationally known educator and author.
His family returned to Los Angeles where Neil did freelance jobs as a cinematographer, including some of Albert Brooks sketches for Saturday Night Live, the L.A. Olympics for Japanese TV, a show on stuntmen for Disney, and lots of rock and roll. As his skills increased he began to get hired to shoot commercials and started an eighteen-year career as a Director of Photography shooting high quality national and regional commercials for television. He became a member of the IATSE Cinematographers Guild.
In 2003 Neil’s wife Norma died from cancer and the start of a new life without her prompted him to make changes in his artistic career as well. He began the task of building his own portfolio of still photography. The expert shooting and high quality printing of his photographs has become his art.
Neil now lives in L.A. with his new partner Marilyn Fils.