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- Posted on Sep 15th 2011 12:00PM by Sarah Kurchak
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Hollywood filmmaker and beloved music documentary maven Jonathan Demme, who celebrated the world premier of 'Neil Young Journeys' at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 12, recalls a run-in with one such fan when he was promoting 'Neil Young Trunk Show,' his previous film with the singer.
"We had a premier in New York and about 20 minutes into it, there was a voice in the audience that was just like 'Turn up the volume! Turn up the volume!' again and again. He never stopped railing. The audience was shushing him and the management came to me and said, 'Should we throw this guy out?' And I was like, 'I don't think so because he's right. It should be louder. I wish he'd shut up, but he's not wrong.' Then we did a Q&A and the guy got up and said 'This is an outrage! Neil Young himself would be horrified if he could hear the volume level tonight!'"
Inebriated sound junkie in New York notwithstanding, though, the Young faithful are usually a very happy bunch when it comes to Demme's Neil Young concert films: 2006's 'Heart of Gold,' 2009's 'Trunk Show' and the brand new 'Journeys.' The filmmaker knows exactly what the fanatics want and how to give it to them, because he's one himself.
"I am such a Neil Young geek/nerd/crazed fan myself and the people I team up with are all obsessive Neil fans. I think we want to make sure -- and we know -- that we're at the heart of the matter and we don't really risk too much criticism from the Neilsters."
Demme even remembers the exact moment that he first heard Young's music. It was a life-changing experience for him.
"First Buffalo Springfield record. It was like suddenly our continent had our own Beatles. We had great bands, we had Love from L.A., we had Jefferson Airplane, we had the Grateful Dead, we had the Byrds, all of these wonderful bands. But Buffalo Springfield, and Neil's songs in particular, took it to a whole other level," he says.
"I almost feel like, had Neil Young not done 'Broken Arrow,' would John Lennon have done 'A Day in the Life'? It was an instant passion for me, his music, and it's never abated. Album by album. Year after year. Film after film."
Although 'Journeys' is the third film that he's has made about Young, it isn't, as some have been speculating, the final installment of a trilogy. In fact, Demme has every intention of adding to the ongoing saga in the not too distant future.
"It's the third piece we've done together and I guess the physics of threes, certainly in film or in books, you become an instant trilogy whether you like it or not. And if you've joked a little bit because you want to do another one after you've done, then you're stuck with the whole trilogy thing. But this is a stand-alone piece and I hope that we will turn it into a quadrilogy as soon as possible."
He would also love to work with Neil in other capacities. Something along the lines of what they did with 'Philadelphia,' when the musician wrote an original song for Demme's Academy Award-winning film, is always a possibility. But what really excites him is the idea of exploring new and different creative outlets, and seeing what kind of artistic trouble the pair of them can get up to.
"I would love to collaborate with Neil on a film that didn't have any music. I'd love to produce a film he directed. I think he's such a brilliant guy. His creativity never gets turned off, and the idea of being anywhere with him and some cameras just thrills me to death."