I began to feel that the drama of the truth that is in the moment and in the past is richer and more interesting than the drama of Hollywood movies. So I began looking at documentary films.
I don't think that there has been a film that I've done that hasn't been influenced by libraries and archives.
I grew up certain for a while that I was going to be an anthropologist, until film turned my head.
One of the things I really like about Ford's films is how there is always a focus on the way characters live, and not just the male heroes.
I read cover to cover every jazz publication that I could and in the New York Times, every single day reading their jazz reviews even though I didn't put them in the films. I wanted to know what is going on.
I never, ever want to apologize for a film. If it's bad I'll say it's my fault. And that's what I can say so far in all the films that I've done, that if you don't like it, it's entirely my fault.
I record all of my music with authentic instruments in a studio before we start editing, doing many, many versions. The music shapes the film as we edit so it has an organic relationship to the content.
I think my expectations for myself are much more severe and much more direct. You can't work on a film for six years without being your own toughest critic. So you can't really be distracted by the expectations based on your previous performance.
In a sense I've made the same film over and over again. In all of them I've asked, 'Who are we as Americans?
I have made a film about jazz that tries to look through jazz to see what it tells us about who we are as a people. I think that jazz is a spectacularly accurate model of democracy and a kind of look into our redemptive future possibilities.
In most films music is brought in at the end, after the picture is more or less locked, to amplify the emotions the filmmaker wants you to feel.
When a documentary filmmaker, working in the style that I do, suggests that there has been a shooting ratio of 40 hours to every one hour of finished film, that doesn't mean that the other 39 are bad.
I have made all my films for my children with the exception of my first film because my oldest daughter wasn't born when I was making the film about the Brooklyn Bridge.
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