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Robert Drew and the Development Cinema Verite in America

Robert Drew and the Development Cinema Verite in America

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304 pages, 6 x 9


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About the Book

P. J. O’ Connell traces Robert Drew’ s influence on cinema verite through extensive interviews with Drew and with some of the founding fathers of American cinema verite filmmaking— Donn Alan Pennebaker, Gregory Shuker, and Richard Leacock.

In a forty-minute magazine show, his first attempt at revolutionizing television journalism, Drew realized that his heavy equipment and the crew needed to carry it intruded too much into the real-life situations he was trying to capture. He persuaded Time-Life Broadcasting to sponsor the development of new, lightweight, portable synchronous sound equipment that freed documentary filmmakers from the bulky, tripod-mounted, AC-powered equipment of the past.

Drew formed a like-minded staff and, using the new technology to go beyond the interview-and-narration form of television journalism, filmed Primary, which documented the 1960 Wisconsin Democratic primary election. By capturing intense moments as they happened, this film fulfilled Drew’ s dream of making an audience feel personally involved in the events he presented.


P. J. O’ Connell is the executive producer of public affairs at Penn State Television and an affiliate assistant professor in the School of Communication at Penn State University.


"In this lively and informative history of Drew and his associates, O’ Connell makes a convincing argument for how the now decades-long debate surrounding the filmic style known as cinema verite only became seriously discussable after Drew’ s initial ‘ efforts in cinema verite had been completed.’ "— Carolyn Anderson, coauthor of Reality Fictions: The Films of Frederick Wiseman