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Documentary Filmmakers Speak Paperback – August 1, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Documentary films are enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Ken Burns' TV series have drawn huge ratings, at least for PBS; HBO and other cable channels fill out their schedules with nonfiction films; and Michael Moore's satiric features meet with unprecedented success on big screens. Stubbs interviews 13 filmmakers, from cinema verite pioneers Albert Maysles (Salesman) and D. A. Pennebaker (Don't Look Back) to newer practitioners with fresh approaches, such as Ross McElwee (Sherman's March) and Nick Broomfield (Kurt and Courtney). Other subjects include Barbara Kopple, an Oscar-winner for Harlan County, U.S.A.; Chris Hegedus, who documented the dot-com crash in; and Burns, the genre's golden boy. They all share their observations about such matters as the effect of the camera's presence on their subjects, the difficulties of obtaining financing, and the inevitable switch from film to digital video. Several mention the experience of starting off to make one kind of film, only to end up with a different kind, the product of an unscripted spontaneity that fiction films can only enviously imitate. Gordon Flagg
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


“This book is like a series of master classes with some of the best, most articulate and passionate documentary filmmakers working today. Liz asks the right questions. She has the ability to get her subjects to open up and share a personal side to what it take to become a documentary filmmaker. If you do or don’t go to film school, read this book.”

(David H. Lyman, founder and director, The International Film Workshops ) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Allworth Press (August 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581152361
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581152364
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 6.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #869,873 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Engaging the audience, connecting with core messages and soul, pushing the creative envelope to optimize visual and verbal storytelling--these are my passions.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By a reader on October 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
Stubbs' book of interviews with contemporary American documentary filmmakers may be useful (even inspirational) for those new to the field, but the author doesn't know her turf. The volume is filled with minor factual errors: film titles are misspelled, interviewees' self-serving statements go unchallenged, and proofreading errors abound. Clearly, Stubbs was learning as she went along, and editorial oversight was minimal.

For better or worse, the book reveals the enthusiasms of a novice. The interviews are superficial, and somewhat adulatory: the writer seldom takes a critical or analytical view of the filmmakers' assumptions and methodologies.

The book may appeal to beginner film students looking for easy-to-read interviews with Ross McElwee and Berlinger & Sinofsky; there are much more informative interviews with Al Maysles, D.A. Pennebaker, Barbara Kopple, and Ken Burns elsewhere. Caveat lector.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Claire Hurd, Educator on November 9, 2002
Format: Paperback
Liz Stubbs Documentary Filmmakers Speak, is a fascinating account of the manner in which some of the greatest filmmakers of our country go about the process of creating masterpieces. Because Liz Stubbs is a truly brillant interviewer she has been successful in drawing out the humanity and the passion of these thirteen extraordinary filmmakers. It is a must read for anyone who has watched a Ken Burns, Bruce Sinofsky or a D.A. Pennebaker/Chris Hegedus production. It was a can't put down for me and a muxt for my Holiday giving list.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Robert S. Lawson on February 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
I just finished reading this book and I really loved it. I'm an aspiring documentary filmmaker and this book gave me such a clear idea of what is really involved in the making of documentaries that matter, and the many approaches one can take to get there. It can be daunting to hear one artist declare that there is only one way to make a documentary, and think, "but I don't know that I can or want to work that way - perhaps I'm not cut out for this". But this book offers such a wide variety of voices that if one approach doesn't resonate, then another surely will. The only hard and true constant that every filmmaker shares is the absolute necessity for passion, empathy and stamina. The level of joy and passion that informs every voice in this book is truly inspirational. Now that I've finished reading my library copy, I'll be buying my own copy, as well as a copy for my documentary partner. It's my new bible.
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