And how is that different from what you learned inBallet?
The Paris Opera Ballet has been around for over 300 years. It gets a big subsidy from the state, America ballet companies worry about if they'll be around next year and how many dancers they'll have. Most of the dancers in the Paris Ballet go to the school that is run by the ballet, so there the tradition of the company is passed on from one generation to the next. That, in 1992 when I shot Ballet didn't exist in the American Ballet Theater because dancers came from all over the world and didn't represent one style of dance.
How did your first filmTiticut Follies (1967) come to light?
I had been teaching law (at Boston University) and I didn't like that. So a few things happened; I had worked on a film in New York City that was half fiction and half documentary and that demystified the filmmaking process for me. I had always been interested in documentary filmmaking and thought there was a whole world out there that hadn't really been explored on film. I knew Bridgewater (State Correctional Hospital) because I was teaching a class in legal medicine. To make the course interesting for the students, I wanted them to visit places where their clients might end up if they didn't do a good job representing them. Many of the students at BU wanted to be criminal defense attorneys or DAs and I wanted to introduce a little reality into their studies. So I knew of Bridgewater because I had been there five or six times and I thought it might make an interesting subject for a documentary. And so after a year and a half of negotiations, I was given permission and made the film.
You're almost eighty; do you plan to keep on making movies at such a pace?
I try to make one a year.
I am just finishing up work on Boxing Gym which is not unrelated to dance because it's a film about movement.
For more information on Wiseman and his films, visit his Zipporah Films web page at www.zipporah.com.
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