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Replay the Live Chat

Filmmakers Chris Hegedus and D A Pennebaker and Chef Jacquy Pfeiffer talked with viewers on Wednesday, June 22 at 2 PM ET. Replay the chat below.



POV: Please start entering questions and comments now. We're just waiting for the guests to log on. Hoping to start at 2 pm.

Chris Hegedus: Hello Chris is here

D A Pennebaker: I'm here too!

POV: Hi Chris and D A! Glad you could join us.

POV: We're going to share a few comments from viewers while we wait for Jacquy to log on.

Comment From Idalia
A really good show saw it last night. The passion each chef showed was amazing. They really know what the true meaning of not giving up on your dreams.

Chris Hegedus: do you want to give us a call?

Comment From Rocio
This was excellent, I was suffering with them, rejoicing with them, it was a beautiful documentary of something I didn't know existed. And the beauties they produce are amazing, look like glass made, they are simply wonderful pieces of art. They are all so talented. Incredible footage of their peak moments!

Chris Hegedus: Yes. Their dedication was awesome!

Comment From Robin
well done; i'd like to see a follow-up at the next competition. i studied pastry under a french pastry chef & he told us all about the mof. yes, you certainly must have a *passion* for pastry. "pov" never disappoints

Comment From Sierra
How did you decide to make this film?

D A Pennebaker: We heard about the school and the two people who started it, Jacquy and Sebastien

Chris Hegedus: I think French tv filmed the most recent MOF Competition but no one broke a sugar sculpture so I heard that the film was not so dramatic.

D A Pennebaker: Sebastien had already won the collar and Jacquy hadn't, so Jacquy had to go into work everyday and look at the collar.

Comment From Kris
I love the verite style of your documentaries, especially "Don't Look Back" and "Kings of Pastry" which are so often without narration or interviews. Do you deliberately choose this style or does it naturally grow out of your filmmaking process?

D A Pennebaker: So, I thought there was a really interesting story there.

Chris Hegedus: We heard about the MOF from our friend Flora Lazar who took the pastry course

D A Pennebaker: If you are just watching something, like a hockey game or football game, you don't really try to direct what goes on

D A Pennebaker: And that's similar to the way we watch people doing what they are doing

Chris Hegedus: I have always thought that if you can give viewers the sense of being there a story can be very compelling

Comment From Eric Krasner
Hi, I'm a filmmaker that's been making short comedies for a few years and I'm about to embark on my first documentary. If you had to give me just one piece of advice or one mistake to avoid, what would that be?

D A Pennebaker: I would tell you what Francis Flaherty told me: use the camera to explore

Chris Hegedus: make sure that it is something that you care about.

Comment From Aaron Ward
Chris and D A, did you ever get to test the pastries yourselves?

Chris Hegedus: I am still dieting!

D A Pennebaker: Yes, of course!

Comment From Stewart Mitchell
Did you ever worry that you would be responsible for one of the chefs breaking their sugar sculptures?

Chris Hegedus: The judges told us that if we accidently bumped into a chef and broke their sugar sculpture that they would kill us ... so yes we worried!

Comment From Sara
... What was the general vibe with you filming the competition? Do either of you speak french?

D A Pennebaker: We don't speak French so we would hate to get into an argument with a Frenchman.

Chris Hegedus: Flora helped us to speak French and translated my questions to Regis and Philippe. !

Comment From Brodie Louise
Loved the film! Thanks to POV for the broadcast! Chris & D A - How hard was it to get access to shoot the MOF competition?

Chris Hegedus: Everyone was very concentrated during the competition you could hear a pin drop.

Chris Hegedus: We really didn't have access to film the competition until the day before the event.

Chris Hegedus: Even then the head of the MOF said that our access was limited and they would decide after each day whether we could return.

Chris Hegedus: We were not allowed to use overhead microphones or lights.

Comment From Danny
This was an intense program ... Their passion is amazing.

Chris Hegedus: By the last day we were restricted to a box at the end of the kitchen table that they drew on the floor. Flora and Sebastien Canonne helped us with the intitial access.

D A Pennebaker: Passion is always amazing. If you can watch it while it flowers, it's worth filming!

Comment From Robert
This is a very specific question -- but do the MOFs ever find out their scores? Do we know what Phillippe made that was so good to compensate for his broken/bird sugar sculpture?

Chris Hegedus: If you love your craft there will be passion. Most of our films are with people who are really passionate about what they are doing and know how to do something well.

Chris Hegedus: The MOF scoring was very elaborate. The MOF organization took great pains to make sure that it was honest and that the judges of the different areas - artistic, work and taste did not know who's pastry they were judging. The chefs were still waiting to hear what their scores were when I last spoke with Jacquy.

Comment From Fran
Would you ever consider making another film about food or cooking competitions?

D A Pennebaker: Yeah, we would make a film about anything if it interested us and we thought we could find out something we didn't know.

Comment From Diane
This was a wonderful film, thank you for making it! What directors inspired you as you were growing up/developing your own filmmaking styles?

Comment From Alice
I simply wanted to say that I watched the film last evening and could not take my eyes away. It is an elegant, beautiful story. I was so taken by it that when catastrophes in the kitchen occurred, I gasped aloud or shrieked with emotion. You would have thought I was watching some commercial drama! I want to see it again and again. Excellent work -- the filmmakers AND the chefs!!!!!

D A Pennebaker: Over the years many different people have certainly caught my attention: Godard being one of them. They were not necessarily documentarians they were people that used film in a truthful way. For instance when Michael Powell made The Red Shoes, the fact that he used a real dancer instead of an actress intrigued me.

Chris Hegedus: I was inspired by Maya Deren because she was the first woman filmmaker whose films I saw. I also loved Fellini and Goddard because they were so different from Hollywood films. But when I saw the cinema verite films that were made by Drew Associates with Leacock and Pennebaker I found my passion.

Comment From Dan
You've both been making films for a couple decades. I'm wondering if people act differently in front of the camera today than they did 20 or 30 years ago?

Chris Hegedus: I people are really concentrated on what they are doing they don't pay attention to you.

D A Pennebaker: I think now people are so used taking the camera to the family picnic - so people are less surprised by films made of them, like home movies.

Chris Hegedus: Everyone certainly knows the process now. But a good story is what it's about.

Comment From Alya
I feel like competition documentaries have become really popular in recent years and many of them end up not being very good (contrived, fluffy..), yet you guys managed to make a good one! What were the challenges of doing a competition doc? Were you nervous going into it?

D A Pennebaker: I think we were very taken with our main character Jacquy Pfeiffer and we were ready to follow him wherever he went

Chris Hegedus: Competitions have a built in ending but you still have to have good characters and care about them

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Hello! I am here.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I was stuck in the oven. I am making a chocolate sculpture.

Comment From John Riley
The MOF competition began earlier each day and seemed to be almost an endurance test in some ways... can you talk about the physical/emotional demands of competing for the Pastry chef title?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: It is definitely happening like this. The first day you start at 8am, the second is at 7am and the third day at 6am. So as the competition goes on you get less and less rest and more and more stress.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: There is a physical factor that you have to overcome, but the stress factor is the most difficult.

Comment From Brodie Louise
... Jacquy, how (if it all) has your career changed since being featured in the film? Are you planning on going for the MOF title again?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: How it has changed? It is not so much the film it the MOF experience that changes the MOF candidates for life. All the candidates are there for a reason because they are great professionals.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: And the film itself brought a lot awareness to artisans around the world.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: It is very important for this country (US) to realize artisans are crucial to the future of the economy.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: The MOF was created in France because of that.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: In the early 1900s, the French realized that their craftsmanship was not going to be competitive 50 or 100 years later.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: That is why the MOF competition was created for more than 250 professions.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: All this to elevate everybody's craftsmanship.

Comment From Warren
How many pastry MOFs are there today?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I wanna say about 120.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Those are all of the people who have received the title. Some have passed away.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Maybe 60 - 70 are still living.

Comment From Diane
Chris and D A: Would you ever consider directing a narrative film?

Chris Hegedus: Every time we miss something we say that's what we are going to do.

D A Pennebaker: I would never say no to anything that sounded interesting! I mean I tried it before but it is usually not interesting to me, because it is already done. The thing I like about making our films is that the adventure just begins when you pick up the camera.

Comment From Ron
Do you shoot with DSLR and if so what lenses do you prefer to use?

Chris Hegedus: We shot this in a very home movie style since we did not have any funding. We shot with Sony PD 170 cameras with a fixed zoom lens. We shot it in 2007 and did not have HD cameras then so we shot with what we owned.

Comment From David
As far as the sculptures go, did you ever get the sense it was form over substance? Looking at some of the creations, I was thinking, "there's a frustrated architect," not "mmm that looks delicious."

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Sugar sculptures have to be built so they look beautiful. One needs to remember that they are made out of chocolate or sugar.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Chocolate or sugar can only harden so much. It will never harden like steel of stone. So we have to apply some principles that architects use like center of gravity.

D A Pennebaker: But you would never have one for breakfast!

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Some people try to eat them at our school. So it is a very fine line to make something that is beautiful not collapse.

Comment From Fran
Jacquy, clearly you are a top-notch pastry chef. Do you enjoy cooking other types of food as well?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: One needs to have done many competitions to know how far he can push sugar or chocolate.

Chris Hegedus: Jacquy is known in the chef's community as a real innovator of techniques in sugar work! He is very modest.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I have to be modest, right.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Yes, I enjoy cooking. Especially helping my wife cook.

Chris Hegedus: We can attest that Jacquy is a fantastic chef. He cook us Tarte Flambee in a special oven in his fireplace.

Comment From Pauline Marie
How much would a sugar sculpture like the ones featured in the film cost in real life?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: She loves to cook fresh food everyday. So when I come home the roles are reversed, and I become the assistant.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: It is all a question of how long it takes to produce.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: It is like a glass sculpture. A glass sculpture doesn't cost a lot of money. It costs about 50 cents a pound.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: A lot of machinery and tools, and time are involved. So if you add it all up. It would be around $1000 - $1500 to make.

D A Pennebaker: How much did it cost to make the round cake? I want one for my birthday!

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I would never make it again, but I will break the rules for D A

Comment From Robert
A pastry question: are sugar sculptures more like edible displays for other items (like Jacquy's cakes); or is pulled/blown sugar ever eaten? Is it flavored or simply colored?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Those sculptures are never eaten. They are just for display.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: They are a sugar sculpture that you would see on a Sunday brunch.

Comment From Sheetal
D A & Chris - I read in Filmmaker Mag that you're exploring doing a doc about CERN. Any update? What are you working on now?

Chris Hegedus: Right now we are putting ourselves in a zen mode and looking for another project to walk in the door. But in the meantime we are trying to preserve our extensive archives.

D A Pennebaker: In my head, I'm thinking about CERN and the physics that may or may not be furthered there. I'm not sure whether they have already had the things I want to document happen in their machinery. The question of why we are here is always interesting, and if I can try to capture that on film, I would think that would certainly be interesting! It's one of the biggest questions we have.

Comment From nichole
Jacquy: Any advice for a future pastry chef?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Yes, many, many advice.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: When I sign a dvd, I always say make it like you mean it.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: If you want to be in pastry you have to mean it. If you want to work in pastry it is a very hard profession. If you can make a living making cakes, and chocolate candies, how bad can it be?

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I have been baking professionally for 36 years.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I am still waiting for the first day when I will be bored. It is very important to know that.

D A Pennebaker: It's like filmmaking!

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Exactly.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: I have 75% of my students are career changers who are bored at their current professions.

Chris Hegedus: hi Robin

Chris Hegedus: Enjoy and have some pastry with it!!

POV: Is there anything else you'd like to share?

D A Pennebaker: We miss you Jacquy! Say hi to everyone for us!

POV: Sadly, I think we'll have to leave it there.

Jacquy Pfeiffer: We miss you too

Chris Hegedus: Thank you POV!

POV: Thanks so much to everyone for joining our live chat!

D A Pennebaker: I'm thinking of making paella for my birthday, if you want to come!

Jacquy Pfeiffer: Okay, I am there.

POV: Thanks especially to Jacquy, Chris and D A!

POV: We'll be doing another live chat next week with My Perestroika filmmaker Robin Hessman.

POV: You can sign up for a reminder: http://www.pbs.org/pov/myperestroika/chat.php

POV: Good bye for today!





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It's not about doing the best you can do, but the best that can be done.”

— Jacquy Pfeiffer, Pastry Chef

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