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‘The Breakfast Club’ cinematographer shares memories


Tom Del Ruth moved to Bend in 2005 with his wife, Patricia. After a career in the film industry for more than 45 years, the couple chose to retire in Central Oregon.

Growing up with parents in the industry, Tom was hooked. His father, Roy Del Ruth, was a film director. His mother, Winnie Lightner, was an actress. Tom attended the University of Southern California’s film school, but quit before graduating to pursue the industry.

“I started shooting stills and I found I enjoyed it more than I thought,” Del Ruth said Tuesday at his home in northwest Bend.

“The Breakfast Club” was shot in 1984, one year before it premiered to audiences. The film follows five high school students during their Saturday detention.

“The stereotypes are opposed to one another, and then the stereotypes become one at the end,” Del Ruth said. “I think the theme is what has captured the imagination of youths throughout succeeding generations, because they can all identify with that.”

As a cinematographer for the film, Del Ruth recalls working with the theme and creating a sense of “suffocation” to give the audience a feel for being in detention.

“The result of what you’re seeing on the screen is the result of cinematography,” Del Ruth said.

His favorite scene begins with the five students sitting together during their detention and telling their truths, and struggles.

“In that particular composition and frame,” Del Ruth begins, “each of them tells a story about how they came, where they came from, their angst, and their concern. It was the most pivotal scene in the picture.”

“The Breakfast Club” is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year, and a special screening took place in Bend on Wednesday evening, with Del Ruth on hand to talk about those special memories.

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