Albert Maysles – A Supernova of Documentary Films

Fathers of Docs?

Together with his Brother David, Albert Maysles helped us see the power of documentary as Art for the first time. For the Maysles Brothers, documentary was the only way to successfully express the experience of their subjects. They set out to show us the beauty of life shot frame-by-frame. Albert trained his skills while working with Giants like Godard.

Albert’s approach was to show our world what he saw, he tore down the wall between pre-structured “scene” and life by pulling back the curtain of the moment and documenting what heard. What we know of The Beatles: The First U.S. Visit, is the result of team Maysles forming a moving document of the group’s happening.

Fathers of DocsBefore Albert and David, there were only stiff and forced subject matter(s) trying to escape the conventions of the film medium. Their 1968 FILM Salesmen was the birth- a coming to light- of Non-Fiction Feature. Albert states, “(Before Salesmen)… there was nothing to compete with the Hollywood feature film. Documentaries were maybe of feature length, but not Features.”

Their use of found materials informs us of the Universe that is the life of these four Boston Door-to-Door Bible Salesmen. It took a new form of media to fully realize what moving images can do- fix time, place and experience through the medium of cinematic expression- Salesmen is the Creation of Documentary as Film.

Through their fine five part series, invites us to discover the real and reel world of Albert Maysles. In Part 3 of their document, VBS Meets Albert Maysles we journey back to “The birth of the nonfiction feature.”

Thank you to the Filmmaker Magazine: Blog for leading me to this moving document.

The futurist Francois Truffaunt knew something before the rest of us when he stated, for the record,

“The film of tomorrow will not be directed by civil servants of the camera, but by artists for whom shooting a film constitutes a wonderful and thrilling adventure.”

There are more tools for documentation today than in any other time in our history. We don’t have just a blog, a Ustream, a flckr post, a tweet, or a “status update,” we have new and emerging mediums in which to express our artifacts. These are the documents of our experience we leave for others to discover.

photo of David and Albert Maysles via Wikipedia
movie poster of Salesmen via Wikipedia

Writer, Director, Live Documentary Filmmaker connecting with smart nodes.