Richard Leacock’s Lesson and Legacy

“Screw the tripod. Screw the dollies. Screw all the stuff.”

Richard Leacock, who died yesterday, speaks on the freedom of Direct Cinema in the following video, which also features Robert Drew:

Read the documentary legend’s obituary and some reactions to his death in Eric Kohn’s indieWIRE piece (which I contributed to).

One of the things I love about Leacock, besides the fact that I wish all films were done in that “Jazz Dance” Direct Cinema style (“shoot and shoot and shoot,” he says in the video), is that he’s kind of a connecting strain through the history of documentary. He worked with doc pioneer Robert Flaherty, was part of the very significant Drew Associates method and movement, and he taught Ross McElwee, who is a kind of father of a certain, prevalent modern non-fiction style.

Here’s a quote from Albert Maysles, who I spoke with last night:

“An image that comes to my mind [is] his hand on the lens. You could tell by the way he was holding the lens that he was really filming with a great deal of care.”

Here’s a video featuring footage from “Republicans: The New Breed” (that’s what it says, but I’m not familiar with that title) and an interview with the filmmaker, who talks of the first film he made in his teens (“Canary Bananas”):

I love this clip because after all that “screw the tripod” stuff, it’s funny to see him drop the camera:

A clip from Flaherty’s “Lousiana Story”:

The beginning of “Monterey Pop”:

And let’s not forget that Leacock shot some of Normal Mailer’s “Maidstone”:

Rest in Peace, Ricky Leacock.


About Christopher Campbell
I am a blogger for Documentary Channel and, where I write the Doc Talk column. I prefer real stories to fake ones. I tweet here: @thefilmcynic

One Response to Richard Leacock’s Lesson and Legacy

  1. David says:


    We’ve posted a couple of pieces of our in-depth interview with Ricky for our series-in-progress TO TELL THE TRUTH, a history of documentary film. You can find them at the project’s FB page:

    thanks for your post!


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