NARRATOR: There are two films by Frederick Wiseman on the Biennial program. He shot Boxing Gym in Austin, Texas. Crazy Horse takes its name from a Parisian nightclub. Wiseman’s film follows the rehearsal and development of one of the club’s nearly-nude reviews. Wiseman took the same approach in both films.
FREDERICK WISEMAN: The technique is one where I don’t do any research in advance. The shooting of the film is the research. I just hang around, and shoot whatever interests me. In the case of Boxing Gym, a hundred hours were shot, and for Crazy Horse, a hundred and fifty hours of rushes. I spend a year editing, and find the film in the editing. I don’t even begin to think about the structure until I’ve edited all of the possible sequences that might make it into the film. When I have those candidate sequences in close to final form, I then begin to work on the structure. The editing is a lot like writing a novel or a play. I have the same problems as a writer, with issues of characterization, abstraction, metaphor, and passage of time. However, in documentary, the relationship between fact and imagination is different than it is in fiction. A novelist’s work is only limited by the scope of his experience in relation to his imagination. Whereas I’m limited by what is shot, by the way my imagination plays against the rushes.