Behind the Camera
December 1, 2011
Cambridge, Mass.—Today, legendary filmmaker Frederick Wiseman spoke to a standing-room-only audience at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study in a lecture titled “Shooting, Editing, and Reading a Documentary Film.” Wiseman, an independent documentary filmmaker at Cambridge-based Zipporah Films, discussed his multifaceted work in the Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture.
With sequences from his films, Wiseman illustrated and addressed choice of subject, fundraising, technical filming issues, sound recording and editing, analysis of sequences, relation of facts to metaphor and abstraction, and the creation of a dramatic structure.
“What I am in trying to do from film to film is make a dramatic narrative structure out of ordinary experience. The basic assumption is that in ordinary experience you find things that are as tragic, as funny, as sad . . . as aspects of things you find in great literature. Unlike great literature, you, the filmmaker, don’t create them. You don’t imagine them. You don’t invent them. You recognize them and you try to use them in constructing a dramatic narrative,” Wiseman explained during the lecture. “The real film takes place where the mind, eyes, and ears . . . leave the screen.”
The Julia S. Phelps Annual Lecture in Art and the Humanities was established to honor the late Julia S. Phelps, longtime instructor in the Radcliffe Seminars, and is supported by the generous contributions of her family, friends, and colleagues.
About the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study
The Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study is dedicated to creating and sharing transformative ideas across the arts, humanities, sciences, and social sciences. The Fellowship Program annually supports the work of 50 leading artists and scholars. Academic Ventures fosters collaborative research projects and seminars, and sponsors lectures and conferences to engage scholars with the public. The Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America furthers the Institute’s commitment to the study of women, gender, and society. For more information about the people, ideas, and events of the Radcliffe Institute, visit www.radcliffe.edu.