Evening Standard, Hulton Archive LONDON (AP) - Miles and Jimi. Jimi and Miles.…
- Posted on Dec 26th 2012 2:00PM by Chris Epting
Like dozens of little films all strung together as one, "Beatles Stories" is a spectacular tapestry that weaves together stories of both the ultra famous and the regular fan, blending them all seamlessly into one glorious, intimate celebration of the Fab Four.
Spinner recently spoke with Swirsky about his new film.
Seth, what was your basic approach to creating this film?
Every time I was doing a story, I had Chris Carter, the host of a popular Beatles radio program, in my mind thinking, "He knows their shoe size," so there had to be something there for him. Similarly, there are people that may know the song "Blackbird," but not know it was on The White Album. Or people that don't know Abbey Road from Revolver. I wanted teenagers' interest to be piqued. So there were three sets of audience I wanted to reach. The guy who knows everything, the person that knows a song or two or is a moderate fan, and the young person that goes, "How did that guy get into the house with a camera?"
There are many goosebump-inducing moments in the film. What stood out specially for you?
I kept the camera running at the train station in Sussex, England when Norman Smith, all 84 years old of him and his wife picked me up -- this is the guy that was at their audition -- and their first engineer, the guy that made their sound! I'm thinking to myself as we're driving, I'm keeping the camera on, he helped make every song up through Rubber Soul, songs that changed the world. Then I'm in his house, and he's on his knees, putting coal on the fire. Unforgettable. And I captured all of it. And when I met Paul McCartney, on a treadmill at my sports club, I had to tell him about this film. He looks at me, stops for a second, and I get my moment. I turn and say, I just interviewed Norman Smith for a documentary I'm making. And he was so taken aback. "We loved Norman!" he said. Another unforgettable moment. Me and Paul in our sweatpants. He took my hands and said, after I got him up to speed on Norman, "You've given me a great gift today." That's what Norman means to Paul. In a way, the encounter with him is a kind of unofficial centerpiece to the movie.
Many memories of the Beatles are about first seeing them on the "Ed Sullivan Show." This film is not that.
No. That's been done many times. This is the only Beatles movie ever made by a fan. And I think is what it does to an audience: There are the fans that grew up listening to the 45s, and then there are the Beatles, who have like this god-like status. I kind of went halfway to meet many of the people that had the Beatles in their lives, and by including myself in the movie, it started to grease the wheels a little bit. I didn't plan on doing that, but as it happened, I sort of became the guy that took the audience along, sort of like a tour guide. So the audience feels taken by the hand in a way. That's the reaction I've been seeing in theaters, and I love that.
The story of the Apple Scruffs, the fan girls that waited outside the studio to meet the Beatles, is incredible.
Staggering to me. That George Harrison would be so touched and show such humanity toward these young girls was astounding. That kind of vulnerability. Without the impressions of that girl, we would not have learned that.
Was it hard to choose which moments to include in the final cut?
Yes. When people heard about what I was doing, they would tell me, "'I've got a Beatles story!" And then I had to measure them. Some I left out because they just were not a great story -- just a fleeting, one-note sort of moment. The flow in this movie was important to me. I'm a collage artist. I like creating collages, so the flow and composition is really important to me.
Did you have a favorite Beatle growing up?
Paul really was a great inspiration to me. I wanted to be Paul as a kid, and while I loved all the Beatles, Paul will always remain special to me.
You include many bonuses on the DVD set.
Tons. I knew that the movie had a right time to end, and it was hard to keep some things out, but of course that's what the bonus features are for. There's a Dave Edmunds story on the bonus disc that I love. He's playing with George Harrison at his home, and Dave discovered all of the old Beatle costumes in a closet! Sgt. Pepper, the Ed Sullivan suits -- everything. And George let Dave try these things on. And Dave said to me, "George knew that he was giving me a great experience that I would one day tell someone." And he ended up telling me. This movie has a lot of those moments, where you just pinch yourself and thank the gods, realizing that maybe you were in he right place at the right time to pass these things along to a bigger audience.