Matt Porterfield says we can credit Jean-Luc Godard's "Masculine-Feminine" (1966) for the interview structure of "Putty Hill." He also says that Martin Bell's hard-to-find "Streetwise," about Seattle street kids, exerted a huge influence on his two films about youth: "'Streetwise' is a documentary that acts like a narrative, 'Putty Hill' is a narrative that acts like a documentary.'"
But he also cited three other masterpieces, readily available on DVD, that are never far from his mind when he thinks of making fiction features with nonfiction techniques.
✭Charles Burnett's "Killer of Sheep" (1977), at its most universal, is about community — what it means to live among kith and kin. At its most particular, it's about what it meant to live in Watts before it devolved from a close-knit section of Los Angeles to the original boyz-'n'-the-hood neighborhood.
•Errol Morris' "Fast, Cheap & Out of Control" (1997). Morris finds the philosophic threads connecting a topiary gardener, a wild-animal tamer, a mole-rat specialist, and a robotics scientist. Porterfield says: "Karen Schmeer, the film's editor, was a big influence on my editor, Mark Vives; it's a documentary, but it takes a strong narrative approach as it weaves together four stories.
A few of Matt Porterfield's favorite things
Dancing along the divide between documentary and features with Baltimore's new indie auteur
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