An entertainment tour-de-force placing his irreplaceable stamp on the worlds of music, film and television over the course of 70 years, Quincy Jones graced Deadline’s Toronto Studio last night, appearing with director Alan Hicks to discuss Netflix documentary Quincy.
Co-directed by Jones’ daughter—quadruple threat Rashida Jones—this celebration of the artist’s life and work examines the challenging childhood, as well as the racial and cultural boundaries Jones transcended in his lifetime, honing in on the 85-year-old’s three-year journey, preparing a star-studded concert for the opening of Washington, DC’s National Museum of African American History & Culture.
For Jones, even the idea of making a film with his daughter didn’t entirely assuage the fears that come with being the subject of a documentary, asked to open himself up for an all-encompassing portrait of his experience. “You don’t know what they’re going to say. There was a lot of stuff going on, in both directions,” Jones reflected with a grin. “But they knew what they were doing, and that’s why I trusted them with it. [Hicks] is like family—a great director, too.”
A documentarian known for Keep On Keepin’ On, a film about jazz legend Clark Terry, Hicks came to the project after Rashida and executive producer Jane Rosenthal got the ball rolling. “From that moment, we just started filming, and we shot for three years with Quincy all over the world. We went to about 25 countries and shot 800 hours of footage with him, and then we found 2000 hours worth of footage in his archives,” Hicks explained. “It’s a lot of footage to get through to get to feature length.”
With three full-time archivists working on the project, digging through Jones’ archives in an all-out “treasure hunt,” Jones found “millions of memories” appearing before his eyes. Of the film, Jones says, “One [memory] triggers off about 100 every time you look at it.”
For Jones—but perhaps particularly for Hicks—every day of this filmmaking process was a surprise. Jones’ status as an icon was such that it took meticulous attention to take note of each and every remarkable thing the artist had ever done. “One day I find out he was in the studio with Miles Davis when he recorded Kind of Blue, and the next day you find out they played his song [“Fly Me to the Moon”] on the moon—it was the first song played on the moon. That would happen daily,” the co-director shared. “If you did just one of those things, that could make a full career—but there’s thousands if not more of what Quincy’s done. He’s definitely the most interesting person I’ve ever met in my life.”
With Jones now in his mid-80s, one question the film examines is what drives the icon forward in his work, never slowing down. For Jones, the answer is passion, pure and simple. “That never stops. I can’t get rid of the passion,” Jones says. “That’s what it’s all about.”
For more from our conversation with the Quincy director and Quincy himself, take a look above.