Great Quotes by D. A. Pennebaker

I think the process is one of using the camera and sound in the way a detective uses a magnifying glass: to find the clues. They’re discovery devices, not performance devices – you’re watching things the way a cat does. You’re not judging. You’re there to witness something.

D. A. Pennebaker

A film is made in somebody’s head – out of their determination to do it at all.

D. A. Pennebaker

One of the things we found out as we filmed with people who dealt with chimps, and with all animals, and it’s really incredible, is their levels of intelligence that we don’t recognize right away.

D. A. Pennebaker

I think of all my movies as home movies! It’s just that some are more expensive than others.

D. A. Pennebaker

Before the camera, you only had secondhand takes – someone had to tell you what they saw or draw a picture of it or sing a song. Because of the camera, sometimes to our horror, we now know everything that happens in the world – things that before we were sheltered from.

D. A. Pennebaker

The very first thing I ever did, I was doing some work for the French Cultural Center. They wanted a little recording set up. And I got wire. A wire recorder. The wire came off spools, and to cut and edit, you tied it together in little square knots. Can you imagine?

D. A. Pennebaker

I think the films we see, the Hollywood films, which are basically entertainment, will still be there, but they’ll be in a totally different category. People won’t take them seriously. They’ll kind of end up the way comic books have. A side view of things.

D. A. Pennebaker

Two of my sons are themselves filmmakers, and we can’t afford them nor they us. They work in the real world and earn money and are pretty good at it.

D. A. Pennebaker

Nobody would let us do ‘Crisis’ again.

D. A. Pennebaker

When I did ‘Don’t Look Back,’ I no longer had Time-Life looking over my shoulder, so I could kind of do it as I wanted, and it was like I was really correcting ‘Jane.’

D. A. Pennebaker

If you’re setting up lights and tripods, and you’ve got three assistants running around, people will want to get you out as fast as they can. But if you go the opposite way, if you make the camera the least important thing in the room, then it’s different.

D. A. Pennebaker

Somebody like Bowie was so interesting because when you got him off stage, he was like a businessman. But on stage, he was just dazzling. It was like watching butterflies grow.

D. A. Pennebaker

Theater is where you go to find out something new that you don’t know. It goes through somebody’s brain and comes out in a comprehensible way that is beautiful, that’s really interesting.

D. A. Pennebaker

People don’t really want reality. They want theater, and that’s different.

D. A. Pennebaker

I wanted James Carville to never die. I wanted Dylan, the poet, to not die. I wanted to put these people in a place where they would be inviolate. It wasn’t enough to have a still life of them. I wanted to surround them with the lives they led.

D. A. Pennebaker

I didn’t know Jack Kennedy that well, but Bobby was a hero to me.

D. A. Pennebaker

We’re actually thinking about distributing ‘Moon Over Broadway’ on-line. It’s tempting, because when you go to a major studio, it’s sort of like a farm, you know? They make all the money, since it’s kind of a buyer’s market.

D. A. Pennebaker

Albert Grossman called my office and spoke with my partner Richard Leacock and asked if we’d be interested in making a film with his client, Bob Dylan.

D. A. Pennebaker

I think, in general, independents don’t have a lot of access to really good scriptwriters or actors or actresses, so they’re very limited in what they can do.

D. A. Pennebaker

Filming is a witnessing process. You don’t try to control it, even though sometimes you wish you could because it can go really, really wrong for you.

D. A. Pennebaker

To make theater out of real life, you need to catch dialogue when it happens.

D. A. Pennebaker

If you’re filming somebody doing something they really want to do, you’re probably not very high on their list of problems to deal with. You see James Carville on the phone – he’s like that whether you have a camera or not. He isn’t doing it just for you, and that’s hard to explain.

D. A. Pennebaker

When you’re editing, you’re putting it together in a way that makes sense metaphysically. You’re not inventing it, but you’re finding the story that’s there. You’re making a play that’s eventually going to go on stage and present itself to an audience. You want to show what happened, not exactly what you have evidence of happening.

D. A. Pennebaker

Animals are companions on this planet, not necessarily our feedbags.

D. A. Pennebaker

I heard the new film, ‘Tangerine,’ was filmed entirely on iPhones. No cameras were involved!

D. A. Pennebaker

It was interesting to shoot history as it happens, without anyone demanding a huge story.

D. A. Pennebaker

Well, it is curious what lasts and what doesn’t. Publishing empires and whatnot would pay anything to figure it out. But they can’t figure it out.

D. A. Pennebaker

I had maybe heard ‘The Times Are A-Changing’ on the radio, but I had no idea who Dylan was. No idea.

D. A. Pennebaker

I kind of liked the idea of filming musicians. I could like a musician and know, at the same time, maybe nobody else maybe liked them much or appreciated them.

D. A. Pennebaker

When the fearsome foursome of rock music, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Little Richard, and Jerry Lee Lewis, decided to show up in Toronto for a rock and roll festival, I knew we had to go there to try to get them all on film.

D. A. Pennebaker

You don’t necessarily need a script or actors to tell a compelling tale. Finding a person at a key moment in his life and rendering the truth as you see it – that’s the truest form of drama.

D. A. Pennebaker