If there’s a genre that’s resonated recently with Oscar voters, it’s the music feature documentary, which counts such titles as 20 Feet From Stardom, Searching for Sugarman, and Amy as near back-to-back annual winners in the category.
Ron Howard, who already counts two Oscars as a producer and director of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, aims to be out there with the best of them this year with his documentary The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. The film pulls the curtain back on the career trajectory, personal lives and private moments of one of the most iconic rock bands of all time. Winning the Best Music Documentary Award at the Critics’ Choice Awards just last week, Beatles hit theaters on September 16 and has accumulated over $10M at the global B.O.
Of course, taking on a documentary on the Beatles is no easy feat, as producer Nigel Sinclair relayed to Deadline’s Dominic Patten at the Awardsline screening for the film on Monday night. Sinclair dug into the challenges faced by the team in attempting to summarize the accomplishments and experiences of one prolific and beloved, Liverpudlian band. “When we did the outline together in 2014, we had like 20 songs we were going to run right through, and they were all laid out on a board. We’d been researching, and Paul Crowder, our brilliant editor here, had been cutting different songs,” Sinclair shared. “I used to say, ’20 songs, that’s going to be 60 minutes of music, guys. Where’s the film?'”
Also joining Sinclair and Crowder during the post-screening Q&A was the doc’s writer Mark Monroe. “When you make any film, the film leads you in the direction it wants to go in, and you find yourselves making decisions that just make sense, as painful as they might be,” Crowder explained, speaking to the immense task of editing the film.
“What we did want to do, as we progressed, was lean more on the footage that we could make work, from the audience perspective, so we could see as much footage that hadn’t been seen, or was at least very rarely seen, and pick moments that were a little rarer, because it’s such a well-trodden story.”
“I think part of what coalesced was Ron’s desire to show these four guys in a bubble. It was a frightening experience, on one hand, because obviously it’s the Beatles. You don’t want to get that wrong,” Monroe said. “Adding to that was Ron Howard saying, ‘I made this film called Apollo 13. It’s about a handful of guys in a capsule; I think this is the same thing.'”