Quotes by: D. A. Pennebaker
|D. A. Pennebaker
Pennebaker in New York City in February 2007
||Donn Alan Pennebaker
July 15, 1925
Evanston, Illinois, United States
One of the things we found out as we filmed with people who dealt with chimps, and with all animals, and it's really incredible, is their levels of intelligence that we don't recognize right away.
I had maybe heard 'The Times Are A-Changing' on the radio, but I had no idea who Dylan was. No idea.
I heard the new film, 'Tangerine,' was filmed entirely on iPhones. No cameras were involved!
The very first thing I ever did, I was doing some work for the French Cultural Center. They wanted a little recording set up. And I got wire. A wire recorder. The wire came off spools, and to cut and edit, you tied it together in little square knots. Can you imagine?
Two of my sons are themselves filmmakers, and we can't afford them nor they us. They work in the real world and earn money and are pretty good at it.
Albert Grossman called my office and spoke with my partner Richard Leacock and asked if we'd be interested in making a film with his client, Bob Dylan.
We're actually thinking about distributing 'Moon Over Broadway' on-line. It's tempting, because when you go to a major studio, it's sort of like a farm, you know? They make all the money, since it's kind of a buyer's market.
I wanted James Carville to never die. I wanted Dylan, the poet, to not die. I wanted to put these people in a place where they would be inviolate. It wasn't enough to have a still life of them. I wanted to surround them with the lives they led.
To make theater out of real life, you need to catch dialogue when it happens.
I kind of liked the idea of filming musicians. I could like a musician and know, at the same time, maybe nobody else maybe liked them much or appreciated them.
Theater is where you go to find out something new that you don't know. It goes through somebody's brain and comes out in a comprehensible way that is beautiful, that's really interesting.
When I did 'Don't Look Back,' I no longer had Time-Life looking over my shoulder, so I could kind of do it as I wanted, and it was like I was really correcting 'Jane.'
Somebody like Bowie was so interesting because when you got him off stage, he was like a businessman. But on stage, he was just dazzling. It was like watching butterflies grow.
I think the process is one of using the camera and sound in the way a detective uses a magnifying glass: to find the clues. They're discovery devices, not performance devices - you're watching things the way a cat does. You're not judging. You're there to witness something.
People don't really want reality. They want theater, and that's different.
When you're editing, you're putting it together in a way that makes sense metaphysically. You're not inventing it, but you're finding the story that's there. You're making a play that's eventually going to go on stage and present itself to an audience. You want to show what happened, not exactly what you have evidence of happening.
When the fearsome foursome of rock music, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis, decided to show up in Toronto for a rock and roll festival, I knew we had to go there to try to get them all on film.
If you're setting up lights and tripods, and you've got three assistants running around, people will want to get you out as fast as they can. But if you go the opposite way, if you make the camera the least important thing in the room, then it's different.
It was interesting to shoot history as it happens, without anyone demanding a huge story.
A film is made in somebody's head - out of their determination to do it at all.
Before the camera, you only had secondhand takes - someone had to tell you what they saw or draw a picture of it or sing a song. Because of the camera, sometimes to our horror, we now know everything that happens in the world - things that before we were sheltered from.
I think, in general, independents don't have a lot of access to really good scriptwriters or actors or actresses, so they're very limited in what they can do.