Film Talk: Directors at Work

By Wheeler Winston Dixon | Go to book overview

ALBERT MAYSLES

Two of America's foremost nonfiction feature filmmakers, Albert Maysles and his brother David (1932–87), are recognized as pioneers of “direct cinema,” the distinctly American version of the French cinéma vérité. They earned their distinguished reputations by being among the first to make films in which the drama of human life unfolds as is, without scripts, sets, or costumes. I have long admired the Maysles' work, especially their 1969 film Salesman, and I had the good fortune to meet Albert Maysles at a conference in Arizona. We struck up a pleasant conversation, which led to this interview a few days later, on May 19, 2001, at his home in New York City.

WHEELER WINSTON DIXON: You were born on November 26, 1926, in Dorchester, Massachusetts?

ALBERT MAYSLES: Right.

WWD: And your brother David was born a few years later, in 1932?

AM: Right. As for my college education, I got my bachelor's from Syracuse and then a master's from Boston University.

WWD: How did you drift into filmmaking? Tell me about the first time you realized that you were interested in film, because you started out studying psychology, correct?

AM: Yes.

WWD: You taught for several years at Boston University, didn't you?

AM: I taught psychology for three years at the introductory level.

WWD: And so how did you first get interested in filmmaking? Where did you first have that gestalt—“Here's a camera, I'm going to use it”—moment?

AM: Well, it happened kind of by accident. In 1954, when I was twenty-seven years old, I had a motorcycle. I put it on a ship and went off to Europe and traveled around Europe for that whole summer. And then the next year I thought I'd do something like that again; but by that time, it was 1955, and it interested

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Film Talk: Directors at Work
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • The Old Masters 1
  • Ronald Neame 3
  • Val Guest 23
  • Budd Boetticher 38
  • Albert Maysles 58
  • Cult Visions 81
  • Jack Hill 83
  • Monte Hellman 98
  • Robert Downey Sr 119
  • New Voices 137
  • Takashi Shimizu 139
  • Jamie Babbit 160
  • Bennett Miller 174
  • Kasi Lemmons 188
  • Index 205
  • About the Author 218
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