Legendary documentary cameraman and filmmaker Albert Maysles has been named the 1997 recipient of the American Society of Cinematographers’ Presidents Award, one of the ASC’s highest honors.
Maysles, who worked with his brother David for more than 30 years until the latter’s death in 1987, will receive the award during the ASC’s Outstanding Achievement Awards dinner March 8 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Century City.
The brothers Maysles made some of the most celebrated documentary films of all time, including “Gimme Shelter,” “What’s Happening! The Beatles in the USA,” “Meet Marlon Brando” and “Salesman.” Albert Maysles’ free-roaming, quasi-invisible camera technique is very much in vogue among cameramen and filmmakers working these days.
“The difference is that (narrative filmmakers) usually use artificial light to interpret emotional content,” said Maysles, the 1994 recipient of the Intl. Documentary Assn.’s Career Achievement Award. “And, frankly, I’m in awe of the talent that it takes to do that.”
In the course of making dozens of documentaries, the New York-based Maysles also developed adaptations of 16mm cameras that allowed the camera to sit unsupported on Maysles’ shoulder, giving the filmmaker virtually unlimited freedom of movement and very little of the intrusiveness that so often marks a camera’s introduction into a room.
Since his brother’s death, Maysles has continued to work, mostly with longtime associate Susan Froemke. His latest film, “Concert of Wills: Making the Getty Center,” documents the 12-year struggle to get the Getty built.
“I’m not trying to be a fly on the wall,” he said, “I’m right out there in the open. The camera needn’t change anything basic. It’s an opportunity for disclosure.”