Dont Look Back and Pennebaker

Pennebaker said that Dylan came to his office in NYC years later and said he thought the clip in the movie where he gets angry about the glass being broken in the street should be taken out, Pennebaker says if I take a single frame out of this film people from all over the world will notice and object. So P has this old piano he was storing for someone, very decorative but out of tune and he offers it to Dylan if he'd be willing to let the idea go, and Dylan ponders that piano and looks around like he's figuring how to get it out of there and then says he doesn't need a piano! and the subject drops. Pennebaker got a clip from a friend who had been in Mississippi and filmed Dylan outside at a civil rights rally(?), singing Only A Pawn In Their Game, and he didn't think much of it just put it on a shelf and forgot it, then when editing DLB a reporter says what are your roots or when did this all start for you, he gets the reel down off the shelf and sticks it in at that point. One of the women seen here and there in the film was his sound recording assistant, Penny. He said she was excellent at what she did and you never saw the recording equipment or realized it was there. The sound was recorded separately from the 16mm film. Pennebaker said he was using one camera and one sound recorder and that he built the camera, it was always breaking and he would fix it. Pennebaker said that he did all of the editing, he didn't have any fancy equipment and named the piece of equipment he had which I can't remember exactly what it's called but it's the one where you just roll the film thru by hand. It took him 3 weeks to edit it. The title shot was done out behind one of their hotels in England! (I thought it was done in NYC) and it was Dylan's idea. He asked Pennebaker early on about shooting a sequence with words from one of his songs that he would flip through. Pennebaker loved the idea and so Dylan carried these shirt cardboards around throughout the tour and finally almost at the end of the trip they got it together and filmed the sequence which wasn't planned as the intro but later Pennebaker saw it would fit there. Everyone helped write them, Donovan too who had a skill at doing fancy lettering, and they shot it in one take, that was it. Joan Baez was tagging along at the beginning of the tour but went off to the Summerhill School to learn more about it because she was starting a school, so that's why she didn't appear in the later parts. She had just finished a tour with Bob in the US but Bob wanted to do this one on his own and wanted to get away from the US, so there was some awkwardness with Joan Baez because of that. But, he said, I wasn't making a divorce film. So that's why I guess there is limited footage of Joan Baez. Pennebaker said he just shot what was in front of him, no plan and no effort to control what was going on. He was just following Dylan around. After Dylan saw the first cut of the film, before it was released, he called Pennebaker and said do you remember when I was playing the piano and writing a song? I think you should include that clip, but Pennebaker had cut it out because it was too long and he thought only the most devoted Dylan fans would appreciate it, so Dylan said have you every filmed someone writing a song before? Pennebaker put it back in. Someone in the audience asked if Dylan had ever given him any feedback about the film. Dylan later said to Pennebaker that DLB was the greatest documentary ever made. Pennebaker said that he didn't set out to make a music documentary, and tried to balance the music with other footage in the film. Pennebaker is now using a digital camera, his son is using his $75,000 which he use to covet but now doesn't miss or even know where it is most of the time. Pennebaker is shooting the story of Fernando Ferrer's mayoral race in NYC. He is very interested in the new filmmaking technology and is learning about it but finds the complexity of the cameras with so many buttons it's easy to hit the wrong one. But a button that you hit when a shot is too dark can open up the light to the subject in the most amazing way. He is like your uncle, like someone you would sit down with in your living room and reminisce with, very interested in documentary as an art form. Said he never framed a shot for the beauty of the shot, but for the material he was getting. His advice is to look thru the camera the way a cat looks out a window. We were shown a DVD of the movie in a large auditorium on a huge screen. The audience was predominantly MICA students along with older Dylan fans. The applause for Pennebaker was strong and long lasting. He was modest and very accessible. There was a question from the audience about the role of women in the movie, which jumped out at me also given the chick references throughout, which were typical of that time but still felt abrasive. The film looked great. I hadn't seen it for 10 years or so. D said to him, all words that rhyme mean the same thing. He's been pondering that for years it appeared. Anonymous in Baltimore, 22.03.2005