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Filming The Rolling Stones in Gimme Shelter: the murder at Altamont


Being my own agent
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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I wrestled with the idea and, of course, there was this other factor too that I was beginning to work with my brother and- but I wasn't quite able to make up my mind until I spoke with a young woman who was a Scientologist, of all things, or something like that- something that I didn't and don't particularly believe in- but she said you've got to ask yourself just one question, and that is, whatever you decide upon, will you be your own agent? And I thought oh, that's a good question. And I, and I asked myself that and I thought no, I won't be because, because as much as Drew and I shared in common this whole new way of making movies, I still wouldn't be able to do exactly what I wanted to do. I had much greater interest in filming ordinary people in ordinary situations that, that had their own drama but weren't of a life and death, necessarily, or political nature. And, and Bob was obsessed with- oh, situations- life and death and political situations. And so with that standard- would I be my own agent- I discovered no; I had to go out on my own, and with my brother. And so it was not long after that that we made our first film together which was "Showman". That was 1962. In 1964 I remember answering the phone. It was a call from Granada Television in England and they said on the phone that The Beatles would be arriving in two hours at what was then Idlewild airport. It's now JFK. They would be arriving in two hours: would you like to make a film of them? I put my hand over the phone and I turned to my brother, David, and I said- who are The Beatles? Are they any good? And fortunately he knew. He got all excited. We both got on the phone. We made a deal and rushed out to the airport. By this time I had my own camera that I'd built myself and so we had all the equipment and the film ready. And got out to the airport in time to see this little fleck in the sky become the plane that landed with The Beatles. And we spent the next five or six days, day and night, behind the scenes with The Beatles. Enough of, of extraordinarily good footage to, to make the first film of The Beatles. It was, it was to be called "What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA." So that was- that was the first music film that my brother and I had made on our own.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Rebekah Maysles Tamara Tracz Sara Maysles

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Tags: Drew Associates, Showman, Granada Television, England, The Beatles, JFK airport, USA, What's Happening! The Beatles in the USA, David Maysles

Duration: 3 minutes, 39 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008