INTERVIEW // John Carpenter's set photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker

Snake Plissken at home and down-time with The Fog: celebrating John Carpenter's most iconic movie moments with an exclusive preview of a new book

As the saying goes: behind every great man there's a great woman. In the case of American photographer Kim Gottlieb-Walker, she was often behind the scenes of cult director John Carpenter’s original and thrilling films. From Halloween – arguably the first ever slasher film – to eerie classic The Fog, to cynical anti hero Snake Plissken’s performance in Escape From New York, Gottlieb-Walker was involved in documenting some of Carpenter’s most enduring work.

She began her life with photography taking 35mm stills during her freshman year at University of California, Berkeley, covering contemporary events such as the Free Speech Movement in 1964. After shooting a failed independent motion picture, her colleague on the project, Debra Hill, was drafted in to work Carpenter’s Halloween, or as it was initially titled “The Babysitter Murders.” Hill remembered Gottlieb-Walker’s good work, and brought her along, kickstarting an eclectic career that – alongside her Carpenter work – included diverse television shows such as Star TrekCheers, and even subjects such as Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley.

Gottlieb-Walker is set to release the book On Set With John Carpenter, which features many images giving invigorating insight into these trendsetting horror and sci-fi films from the 1970s and 80s. As Carpenter himself describes in the book’s dedication: “Kim’s behind the scene stills catch the fun we were having at the time. Her portraits and action shots are exquisite.”

What was your experience of your early career – attending UCLA film school and working as a grad student for Motion Picture production?

Kim Gottlieb-Walker: I loved the Motion Picture department at UCLA. My film school teacher, Bill Kerby, used to do interviews for the underground press and brought me along to shoot the stills - it's how I got to shoot portraits of Jimi Hendrix when I was 20 and he ran the light show when the Doors played locally - which I got to help with as well. I worked as a teaching assistant for students making their first films when I was in grad school. Working for the underground press helped me compile a portfolio full of fascinating musicians, politicians, authors and popular culture heroes in the late '60s.