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Lasting friendship with Paul Brennan


Filming Salesman, problems getting the film shown and meeting my wife
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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We met the guys one day and went out with several of them, filming a sample of how they work and so forth, and we decided right then and there- yes, that's it. And we got their full co-operation. And we went on this wonderful trip with them, first filming in Boston. I remember it was some pretty tough winter days. Then in Webster, Massachusetts. Then they thought, oh, wouldn't it be great to, to get into new territory and go to Florida. So they went to Florida and we filmed them there. And at some point they were invited to a sales meeting in Chicago and we got that. So it became a very intense experience at times because one of the guys, Paul Brennan, one of the salesmen, he was by far the most interesting and the one who became the main character of the film. Not because he was the most successful but- as a sales person- but because he was the most successful in connecting with the viewers. I mean, you really felt- you felt that his pain; you felt that he could have been so much more successful had he chosen some other kind of trade or profession. And there's a beautiful scene in the film, my favourite, where he's had a tough time of it and he retires to a cafeteria where he sits alone at a table. And my brother and I were careful enough not to disturb him with even a question because in that silence, as he's looking off into the gloom, you feel that whatever is going through his mind you, you are- you are with him and thinking what that might be; you, you are thinking as he might think. And it's- it's a pretty long moment where he's totally silent and just thinking. And I think if it had gone on even longer it would have been that much- even better for the film but as long as it was it kept you so closely attached to his emotions. And- but would it ever stop? And if it stopped it would have to be Paul that would put an end to it. And in fact while the camera was still rolling he takes his cards, which are his leads, and he raps them against the edge of the table as if to be- as if he was calling himself back to work. And he gets up and he goes back to work. And that scene and others was so strong that once the film was finished and we discovered that we couldn't get it shown on television- no one was interested. They thought it was too depressing. They didn't quite catch its importance or its powers. And certainly nothing like that would get shown in movie theatres; distributors weren't keen on showing a film without a big movie star or without, as so many films are made today, without a few automobile explosions or whatever. All we could do was to rent a movie theatre and, and show the film and get the reviews and get it rolling that way. But we needed money for that so we would have screenings where maybe 100 people would attend and I remember one of those screenings where people had seen the film and as they filed out they would congratulate my brother and myself. At some point I noticed through a crack in the door that there was a young woman seated- sitting in the front row. And, the last person in the theatre, she got up to turn to leave- and to turn in our direction, I noticed she'd been crying- probably at that scene more than anything, it had so disturbed her. And as she came closer I saw how attractive she was and so I elbowed by brother and I said- she's for me. And that's how I met my wife. And that's how I came to have all these children, two, two of whom are now using cameras of their own, doing their own films, plus other artistic endeavors. Another one with a camera travelling in the furthest parts of the world- Nepal and Tibet- meeting Tibetan refugee children and helping them out. As active as I am making my movies each member of my family including my wife who's a full time family therapist and a person getting her Ph.D in Early Church History, writing poetry and so forth.

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: Sara Maysles Tamara Tracz Rebekah Maysles

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.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

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.

Tags: Salesma, Boston, Massachusetts, Florida, Chicago, Nepal, Tibet, Paul Brennan

Duration: 6 minutes, 31 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008