Meeting Legendary Documentary Filmmaker Albert Maysles

March 8, 2015 — Leave a comment

We are very sad to hear of the passing of Legendary Documentary Filmmaker Albert Maysles. We’d like to share our story of when we met Albert in 2008 at the Dallas Video Festival.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Angela Walley

Our short film Picturesque Joel was an official selection of the festival, but we were really there because we knew Albert would be there. We had fallen in love with Salesman and Grey Gardens, and we were particularly interested in Maysles Films’ series following artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude. We made the trip to Dallas and were thrilled to attend our first Film Festival wearing “Filmmaker Badges”.

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles at the Dallas Video Festival, 2008

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles graciously signs a Grey Garden’s Film Poster

Our badges gave us access to the Filmmakers Lounge, which we nervously attended. We found Festival Director Bart Weiss and told him what big fans we were of Albert. He told us that Albert was very approachable, so we should just introduce ourselves. There were several other Filmmakers waiting to take photos and talk with Albert.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
A conversation with Albert Maysles

Albert Maysles' Socks, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles’ Yellow Socks

He was very kind and gracious with each encounter. He gave everyone his full attention and even flirted a little with a young woman who revealed her love for Grey Gardens. When we had a chance to talk with Albert he remarked to us, “Documentary, that’s the way to go”. At the time we were making narrative and experimental short films, but documentary would soon become our genre of choice.

Running Fence, Christo and Jeanne-Claude
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence

Dallas Video Festival screened Running Fence, with a brief introduction by Albert and Bart. Mark remembers the way Albert described working with Christo and Jeanne-Claude. Albert had such a deep love and respect for the subjects he followed, which we would later emulate in our own work.

Albert Maysles and Angela Walley #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Angela Walley

Things began to fall into place for us as we continued our early film work. We didn’t make the connection immediately, but when we reflected on it we realized that with just a few words Albert had helped us fuse our love for Contemporary Art and Storytelling.

Albert Maysles and Mark Walley, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles and Mark Walley

Jimmy Kuehnle Documentary #WalleyFilms
Still from our film Jimmy Kuehnle’s Big Red and Walking Fish, 2009

The following year we attended the festival with the hopes of meeting Albert again. Our short documentary Big Red and Walking Fish following performance artist Jimmy Kuehnle was an official selection and we’d hoped to tell Albert how big of an influence he had been for us. Unfortunately he wasn’t able to make it that year, and we never had a chance to tell him how important meeting him was for the course of our work as filmmakers.

Albert and David Maysles
Albert and David Maysles

Now seven years later, we have produced over thirty short documentary films and are currently in production on our most ambitious documentary film to date. When we married in 2010 and formed our production company, the name “Walley Films” was in homage to “Maysles Films” and the dynamic duo relationship Albert shared with his brother David. There have been many influences in our work, but it all started with Albert Maysles.

Albert Maysles, 2008 #WalleyFilms
Albert Maysles, November 26, 1926 – March 5, 2015

As a documentarian I happily place my fate and faith in reality. It is my caretaker, the provider of subjects, themes, experiences – all endowed with the power of truth and the romance of discovery. And the closer I adhere to reality the more honest and authentic my tales. After all, the knowledge of the real world is exactly what we need to better understand and therefore possibly to love one another. It’s my way of making the world a better place.

– Albert Maysles

We want to say thank you to Albert. Thank you for your incredible work and for your kindness.

Mark and Angela


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