EXCLUSIVE: The next big music documentary in the works: Once Were Brothers: Robbie Robertson and The Band. Pic will tell the story of a group that went from backing up Bob Dylan to become one of the most influential groups of its era. Told through the prism of founding member Robertson, Once Were Brothers is being directed by Daniel Roher (Survivors Rowe) and will be executive produced by Martin Scorsese, Brian Grazer and Ron Howard. Pic will be a co-production between Imagine Documentaries, White Pine Pictures, Bell Media Studios and Universal Music Canada’s Shed Creative.
Inspired by Robertson’s 2017 bestselling memoir Testimony, the film is a confessional, cautionary, and sometimes humorous tale of Robertson’s young life and the creation of one of the most enduring groups in the history of popular music. The film blends rare archival footage and interviews with many of Robertson’s friends and collaborators, including Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Scorsese, Taj Mahal, Peter Gabriel, David Geffen and Ronnie Hawkins, among others.
Robertson said he is “honored to have my memoir, Testimony, made into a documentary film by such an extraordinarily talented creative team.”
A half-Mohawk, half-Jewish kid from Toronto, Robertson got his break at 16 years old with Ronnie Hawkins’ The Hawks. He was Bob Dylan’s guitarist on the notorious 1966 “electric” world tour and as leader of The Band, collaborated on the ground-breaking Basement Tapes, inventing “Americana”, with songs like “The Weight,” “Up on Cripple Creek” and “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.” The Band’s touring culminated with the seminal concert and film, The Last Waltz, directed by Scorsese. Robertson’s career has spanned 60 years now, as a songwriter, producer, author and film composer whose collaborators have included Scorsese and others.
“Robbie and The Band are the stuff of rock n’ roll mythology,” said Imagine Documentaries president Justin Wilkes. “As a Woodstock native, the Big Pink house loomed large in my cultural psyche growing up and like many, many others, the music sure made a lasting impression. The gospel according to Robbie is a wild, cinematic ride and we here at Imagine are honored to partner with Daniel and an illustrious band of producers in sharing Robbie’s story with the world.”
White Pine Pictures president Peter Raymont called Robertson “the man who wrote the anthems of our generation, and continues to create extraordinary music today.”
Bell Media president Randy Lennox called the film “the incredible story of one of Canada’s most revered artists to the screen. We look forward to welcoming it to our robust collection of music documentaries on Crave.”
Shed Creative’s managing director Dave Harris said: “Our focus is to find stories that are emotionally dynamic and have cultural weight behind them. Robbie’s story and career is just that and we’re thrilled to be partnering with Imagine to give this story the global platform that it deserves.”
The film is being executive produced by Wilkes and Sara Bernstein for Imagine Documentaries; White Pines Pictures’ Raymont, and Steve Ord; Jared Levine; Michael Levine; Bell Media’s Lennox; Universal Music Canada president and CEO Jeffrey Remedios; and Shed Creative’s Harris. The film is set to be released theatrically in Fall 2019 and on Crave early next year.
Pavarotti, Howard’s directorial follow-up to The Beatles: Eight Days A Week — The Touring Years, will be released June 7 through CBS Films.