152 Great Directors: Frederick Wiseman

“My job as editor is to make the film as best I can from the rushes. What I think about the subject matter is what you see in the final film. At least 50% of editing has nothing to do with technique. I ask myself what it is I am seeing and hearing in the rushes. I have to at least delude myself into thinking that I understand what is going on in each of the sequences in order to (1) decide which sequences to use, (2) how to edit them into a usable form and (3) create a narrative, dramatic structure in which each segment has its proper place. This process often takes a year. A month or two before I finish I usually start thinking about what I want to do next. This is my way of avoiding a postpartum depression.”

What Got This Director Here?
: Body of work.

My Favorite Past Experience Was…: At Berkeley, my favorite documentary of the 2010s.

What Did I Watch: Titicut Follies.

Where Does He Fit: Titicut Follies is a nasty, harsh piece of work. As per usual with Wiseman, tough questions come up: is it right to show the sequence where the man who has been arrested for pedophilia answers very tough, personal questions for the sake of showing how cruelly this place is run? Why is this man’s room being emptied out? It’s all arresting and uncomfortable and I am not in the least bit shocked that this has been banned before. It’s a work of a very smart individual who is making one hell of a debut, I just think I prefer the scope and calm of something like At Berkeley, rather than this one’s rage.


Most Valuable Asset: An eye for subjects.
Most Excited For: High School.
Did They Deserve a Spot?: Absolutely.

Coming Up Next: Mike Nichols, nuts without may.


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