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Grey Gardens: showing the film to the Beales and defining intimacy, exploitation and vulnerabiliy


Grey Gardens: filming and seeing the house post-restoration
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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Well, filming in the house- what overwhelmed everything else was the fact that these two women were so interesting and, and there was hardly a moment that would go by that you wouldn't want to- you wouldn't want to film it. But- so that- because that motivated us so strongly, you know, we could- we could bear under the weight of the- of the awful smell that persisted and the- and the fleas that would have bitten us to death. Actually, because of the fleas we learned quickly that we should protect ourselves that way, so that every day that we would arrive to film, we would park some distance from the- from the house behind the tall privet. We could hear them talking which confirmed that what they were saying was very much the same as they were in front of the camera. It's the same kind of stuff. So, so when you look at the film you can't deny the authenticity of it because even when the camera wasn't there it was the same mother and daughter relationship. But we would stop in order to spray ourselves against insects and fleas. And also I, both of us we'd fasten something around our ankles so that the fleas couldn't crawl up our legs. So, you know, that was one danger that we took care of, but the smell was atrocious and- In contrast with all that some years later we got a call from a woman, Mrs. Hadley, who was living in Grey Gardens. The house- about a year after- a year or so after the film was finished Mrs. Beale at age 82 died and Edie decided to sell the house and she, she sold it to people who fixed it up quite well. And then there was a woman that used to sublet the house every- every winter, most of the year, because the people who had bought the house only went there for the summer. So we got a call from her one day. She said she saw the film and loved it and she would like to invite us to- as her guests- and she would invite maybe 40 or 50 guests; George Plimpton would be the Master of Ceremonies; and they would celebrate the film at Grey Gardens. And so I got a chance to see the house since it's been renovated. I think that the renovation was successful on many counts. Especially I think that the two women would have liked the, the restoration.

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: Grey Gardens, George Plimpton

Duration: 3 minutes, 27 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008