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Documentary Filmmaker Stanley Nelson on Structure, Editing, and Sound

“Taking stuff out and cutting stuff down…that’s the process.”

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Episode Notes

This week, host Isaac Butler talks to documentary filmmaker Stanley Nelson, whose latest film, Attica, covers the 1971 uprising at the Attica Correctional Facility in upstate New York. In the interview, Stanley explains how he decides which stories to tell and how he earns the trust of his subjects. He also discusses the finer points of structure, editing, and his use of sound effects and music.

After the interview, Isaac and co-host Karen Han talk about the challenges of creating a structure for nonfiction projects and the difficult task of cutting interviews down.

In the exclusive Slate Plus segment, Stanley looks back at the time he worked with legendary documentary filmmaker William Greaves. Then Isaac asks him if he ever gets nostalgic for the pre-digital era of filmmaking.

Send your questions about creativity and any other feedback to working@slate.com or give us a call at (304) 933-9675.

Podcast production by Cameron Drews.

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