High Times Greats: D.A. Pennebaker

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For the July, 2001 issue of High Times, Carlo McCormick interviewed one of America’s greatest documentary filmmakers, D.A. Pennebaker (1925-2019). Known best for Don’t Look Back, his 1967 portrait of Bob Dylan; Monterey Pop in 1969; and The War Room, his Oscar-nominated portrait of the Clinton presidential campaign, in 1993, Pennebaker also captured David Bowie, in Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars, and the raw experiments of the Plastic Ono Band in John Lennon. For over five decades, he defined our collective history with an honesty and immediacy that transcends time. In honor of Pennebaker’s birthday July 15, we’re republishing the interview below.


High Times: Are you able to enjoy filming, or is it always about doing the job at hand?

D.A. Pennebaker: For us it’s never a job. We’re there because we have to be. We don’t know where else to be. Our role was not to comment on what we saw, just to watch it.

You perfected that fly-on-the-wall…

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