Well, I think the Maysles approach, at least in principal, is that there's a line you don't cross. And I, frankly, don't believe in that line. I believe that's a line that's in the sand and it should be crossed when it's necessary. I mean, I do have relationships with people that I've filmed over the years that went beyond just the filming period. I'm still very good friends with people up in Munnsville, who I did Brother's Keeper with, and the people with Paradise Lost. This film I'm just finishing now on Sun Records, I'm very good friends with a lot of people that I've met there. And I think that if you're a good filmmaker you film everything, you get close to people, you dump that baggage of not being part of people's lives on a personal level. And then when you get into the editing room, you just have to be able to put on blinders when it comes to your feelings towards people, so you don't let that impact how you edit your film.
So I am a verité filmmaker. I'm not a lover of interviews, but sometimes you have an obligation to your audience to get some information that is very difficult necessarily to get from a scene, so you do interviews. Both Joe and I have tried over the years not to do interviews, but sometimes when it's a complicated murder case or a complicated story, you have to. I would love to do a film like Salesman, which I think is the best of what documentary and nonfiction has to offer. But it was a much more lyrical story and didn't cry out for long explanations as to what it was to sell a Bible. The story is really about these four remarkable men who traveled from Boston to Florida and it's really, as Albert used to love to say, a real-life Death of a Salesman. But I would never consider myself a purist. I'm not afraid to use fictional sorts of elements—not recreations, but helicopter shots, to have your film scored, to cut it and shoot it the way you would a feature so it cuts like a scene. I think those elements just add to what tends to be a very, very well-crafted story. What I really like about Brother's Keeper and Paradise Lost is that they have a clear beginning, middle, and end. They've got their heroes and villains. They've got rising and falling action like you'd look for in a dramatic picture, and I think that's why people embraced our films on television and in the theaters, because they felt like something that they were very familiar with, which was a movie that they would pay $8 to see—as opposed to . . . many documentaries are sort of illustrated lectures that are well-made. I would put Ken Burns in that category, because I admire his work, but I find the films to be rather static and stilted. The Maysles and Pennebaker and Leacock and Drew—that's where I cut my teeth.
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