Bill Simmons On ‘Woodstock 99’ & Turning ‘Music Box’ Into The ’30 For 30’ Of Music Docs – Deadline

Bill Simmons, co-creator of ESPN’s documentary strand 30 for 30, is popping his consideration to music documentaries for his newest undertaking.

Music Box is a 30-for-30-style strand for HBO that encompasses numerous films about bands, artists and rappers. It kicks off tonight with Woodstock 99: Peace, Love & Rage, a movie in regards to the chaotic pageant.

The movie, directed by Love, Antosha director Garret Price, appears at what went incorrect with the 1999 occasion that happened 30 years on from the basic hippie fest, together with the destruction of the pageant’s airbase website and the deaths and sexual assaults that occurred through the weekend. It additionally appears on the angst of a era encapsulated by bands akin to Limp Bizkit with their hit “Break Stuff,” and the Red Hot Chili Peppers, enjoying a canopy of Jimi Hendrix’s “Fire” as the positioning burned.

Featuring interviews with artists akin to The Roots, Korn, Moby, Jewel and The Offspring who performed that weekend, in addition to tradition critics akin to Wesley Morris, Maureen Callahan and Steven Hyden and organizers Michael Lang and John Scher, it’s an incendiary watch.

It will probably be joined within the strand by 5 different movies: Alison Klayman’s Alanis Morissette doc Jagged, Penny Lane’s Listening To Kenny G, John Maggio’s Robert Stigwood movie Mr. Saturday Night and movies about DMX and Juice WRLD from Christopher Frierson and Tommy Oliver respectively.

All of the movies are produced by Ringer Films, the manufacturing division of Simmons’ Spotify-owned tradition website and podcast agency.

Simmons tells Deadline how the undertaking took place, the variations between making movies about musicians and athletes, his prime three films about bands and being a part of a booming tradition of music documentaries.

DEADLINE: How did Music Box come about?

Bill Simmons

The Ringer

SIMMONS: It took some time. We mainly began in the beginning of 2018. With 30 for 30, which I noticed go from an e mail that I despatched to my bosses to blowout into over 100 [docs], a few issues labored. We established a model that folks knew what it was after which as a result of we had been utilizing the totally different filmmakers and voices and being cautious about not going too far again and being modern and trendy, it simply hit. People preferred it so once we did the following one, they only assumed they had been going to love it. Trying to suppose how this could work for a music sequence, I noticed the music world rather a lot like sports activities was in 2007.

I had a few music movies that had been the fashions of what we wished to do however the primary factor was [most] music docs had been these starting, center and finish tales, I name them cradle to the grave, the place it’s in regards to the artist’s total profession. What labored for us for 30 for 30 was honing in on particular moments and home windows. The mannequin for 30 for 30 was The Fab Five doc, a couple of school basketball staff that was solely collectively for 3 years and it’s about that three years. That was most likely the one they replayed probably the most. The query for me was how can this work for music and we tried to determine that out.

The mannequin for me was the Eagles doc [The History of The Eagles]. I like that doc and I wrote an enormous piece about it once I was working Grantland as a result of I believed it was one of the best music doc I’d ever seen. Part one is an hour and 45 minutes and it accomplishes a lot and that satisfied me there’s a method to try to do that with music. Ironically, I used to be buddies with [Universal Music Publishing exec] Marc Cimino, who is without doubt one of the exec producers on this movie and he had at all times informed me folks had been coming in and pitching 30 for 30 concepts. Marc stated, ‘Why don’t you simply do it’. I had a complete doc of concepts. It began from there.

DEADLINE: It’s fascinating what you say in regards to the particular focus of these unique 30 for 30s. It’s exhausting to inform Bob Dylan’s complete story in two hours.

SIMMONS: A whole lot of instances with music documentaries, the default is it’s about their complete profession. One of the concepts early on was in regards to the Jagged Little Pill album that turned an enormous hit, it wasn’t an thought about [Alanis’] complete profession. What had been these 18 months like? You can do the Alanis six-part complete profession factor however on this case, I simply suppose it’s an amazing story, a child from Canada who’s blowing up.

DEADLINE: What was the event course of like? Did you’ve these concepts or did you are taking pitches from administrators?



SIMMONS: It was a combo. We had a giant listing, paradoxically the primary two issues I used as a mannequin that me and my staff wished to do, ended up not being two of the six and that’s the way it goes with music. I’m not going to say who they had been as a result of I’m nonetheless hopeful that perhaps we will do them. That’s simply the way it goes with this shit. You’re coping with the supervisor, the artist can get chilly ft, the rights might be a difficulty, you by no means know. We had a combo of concepts we wished to do, concepts that we pitched administrators after which generally simply assembly filmmakers. For occasion, we actually preferred this documentary Hail Satan that Penny Lane did, we noticed it within the theater, and had this concept for her. She preferred it however she stated she had this different thought and it was about Kenny G. She wrote us this superior pitch so we stated let’s try this. She’s passionate and if the filmmaker is tremendous obsessed with an thought, you possibly can sense it and also you often need to do that concept. John Maggio was a director that we actually wished to work with and we pitched him the Saturday Night Fever thought and he cherished it and ended up constructing the entire doc round Robert Stigwood. The solely movie we purchased was an early lower of the DMX movie. We simply thought it had a lot potential we wished to be concerned.

DEADLINE: Polygram and Universal Music Publishing are concerned within the sequence; do you must have a document label and a publishing firm concerned nowadays to get these movies made?

SIMMONS: I don’t suppose that’s true. I do know sports activities and that complete world and might navigate it. I believe music is a complete totally different animal, there are relationships and credibility issues. I knew how good Marc was and Jody, who I believe is without doubt one of the greatest folks within the music trade, I believe that’s fairly accepted at this level, having them concerned and their experience was nice. I don’t suppose we’d have been capable of do it on our personal, there’s a lot I didn’t know, relationships we didn’t have and to have them, additionally they actually perceive the inventive integrity factor and are dedicated to it. They didn’t need us to do an infomercial a couple of Universal artist, they actually wished to give you the very best product we might. They had been invaluable and might’t think about having executed it with out them.

DEADLINE: There is a rising pattern for docs produced by the artists themselves, that are primarily promo items.

SIMMONS: That occurs in sports activities too. I at all times name them documercials. I’m personally not keen on these. You can inform while you’re watching. In phrases of the infomercials, it’s important to be fairly cautious with that stuff, you are able to do it and there’s cash in it however I really feel these have a sure ceiling. I don’t blame the artists for doing that.

It began to occur with 30 for 30. I used to be actually obsessed with this Orlando Magic documentary I wished to do about Shaq and Penny and I wrote this complete pitch and lots of people had been hesitant as a result of it was a small market staff who misplaced their greatest stars. We did it [as This Magic Moment] and Shaq and Penny [Hardaway] ended up being exec producers. At the time, I used to be on my method out of ESPN, I wasn’t as concerned within the precise strategy of it. There was a special really feel to it that I believed was uncomfortable as a result of we by no means actually received into what occurred with their relationship. Then you take a look at having navigated The Last Dance with [Michael] Jordan as an EP and he had closing say on plenty of stuff however that was nice so generally you possibly can pull it off. You need to belief that they care in regards to the integrity, which I believe he did, which was why it was so nice.

DEADLINE: I’m shocked there wasn’t a movie about yacht rock in right here.

SIMMONS: Don’t suppose I didn’t give it some thought. We had been looking for a stability with the six of them. I believe plenty of documentaries are made for folks my age and older as a result of these are the folks making them. I used to be actually cognizant that we wished to make this a sequence that my son would need to watch. I watched the Alanis movie with my daughter and she or he listened to Alanis’ music for 3 weeks after.

Pearl Jam

Pearl Jam
Everett Collection

DEADLINE: Similarly, no Pearl Jam, presumably that’s as a result of Cameron Crowe had this all locked up.

SIMMONS: That’s instance. That’s why these items is difficult. Pearl Jam 20 is basically good, so why would you go down that highway once more. It’s okay if you happen to wait lengthy sufficient, perhaps 15 years and take one other swing.

Part of the mannequin with that is that it retains going and going and one of many issues that I hope will occur is that the standard of the sequence will make some folks give you some concepts and perhaps there’s just a few artists on the market that by no means wished to do a documentary however that is the sort of type they’d love to do. But plenty of concepts are going off the desk, each day you search for and there’s one other music documentary.

The one that can by no means occur is Fleetwood Mac and that’s the primary music documentary that anybody might ever make and it’ll by no means occur till Stevie and Lindsey are useless as a result of they hate one another. That could be my primary decide. There’s actually extra left in music than sports activities so we’ll see. I’d like to hold the sequence going, however it’d solely be if the standard might be on the similar degree.

DEADLINE: Given your love of The History of The Eagles, I’m shocked you didn’t get Alison Ellwood concerned. You will need to have successful listing of administrators you’d prefer to work with.

SIMMONS: We did a movie with Alison in regards to the first nice ladies’s basketball staff [Women of Troy] in order that was enjoyable to work along with her on. One of the issues that has occurred is that the documentary market has exploded, there’s far more cash in it, and regardless that we’ve got extra administrators than we did for 30 for 30, which was the youngsters of [Hoop Dreams director] Steve James mainly, there’s far more tasks. Back in 2007 once we had been in search of administrators, we might barely get 30 after which by 2012/13 it was straightforward to get to 30 and now if you happen to’re that in 2021, the tools is best, the individuals are higher educated, the individuals are youthful, it’s a complete era of individuals weaned on the stuff from 2007 on. I believe it’s going to be a growth. Plus, you’re seeing the streamers and a few of these cable stations pay actual cash for these items and that’s going to place higher and higher filmmakers in to so it’s solely going up.

Woodstock 99

DEADLINE: These movies will air on HBO and HBO Max so that you’ll get a way from each linear and streaming.

SIMMONS: I can’t wait to see how this performs out. It’s on a Friday night time on HBO and on HBO Max that very same day. What was fascinating about 30 for 30, ESPN didn’t advertise, lots of people didn’t realize it was popping out. I’ve an e mail that I nonetheless have, asking them to unfold the phrase, which is loopy as a result of they spent $15M on this sequence and we’re doing phrase of mouth. But the factor that occurred with 30 for 30 was the rewatchability. That’s one thing that we by no means thought would occur, that any individual would need to watch the Wayne Gretzy doc for a 3rd time, as a result of [ESPN] would simply run these after they had a recreation canceled and would nonetheless get scores. I’d have an interest to see how this goes within the streaming period. Audiences are actually educated to observe documentaries in the identical method that they watch a film or a restricted sequence like The White Lotus, all of it blends collectively so long as it’s good.

DEADLINE: You benefit from the HBO stamp of approval with these movies, proper?

SIMMONS: I like working with HBO. I noticed it first hand with the Andre The Giant doc, which did exceptionally nicely for them. It felt prefer it had additional credibility as a result of it was on HBO. There’s a bunch of nice locations that do good work and I believe HBO has this legacy of high quality the place you simply belief them another way. That’s why I received so mad with them when it appeared like they had been fucking with it a few years in the past. As it seems, Casey Bloys has been unbelievable and so they’re not going to destroy it however we had been all a bit frightened.

We did so many docs at ESPN however there’s at all times commercials, so that they at all times felt like they had been three minutes too fats or 4 minutes too quick since you at all times needed to time it. It’s actually silly however I’m actually anal about telling the story in the very best method with out fats and simply making an attempt to nail it and one of many enjoyable issues about HBO is you by no means need to pad it, however you’ve the flexibility if it’s one hour 40 minutes, that’s cool.

DEADLINE: Woodstock 99 is round one hour 50 minutes. Are they throughout that size?

SIMMONS: Mr. Saturday Night is underneath 90 minutes. That one, I used to be simply in awe of John Maggio on that one as a result of Stigwood is useless and it’s all archival. We did this [ESPN] documentary in regards to the day of the O.J automobile chase in sports activities, [Montage of Heck director] Brett Morgen did it, he was among the finest folks we received for that first sequence. It’s all archive and he lower collectively this unbelievable movie, which is identical factor John was capable of do.

DEADLINE: Who’s more durable to corral, athletes or musicians?

SIMMONS: Musicians. They have the best life on the planet and so they’re used to calling the pictures for all the pieces they do. They’ve flown near the solar with what they do and it’s exhausting for them generally to return and discuss it and generally they don’t need to take the danger. At the identical time, there are some superior tales on the market. The bummer is when there’s story and somebody does a foul job on it. It’s like a canine peeing on a tree, they’ve peed on the tree, the tree is finished at that time. In common, this has been a growth and we’re psyched to be part of it.

DEADLINE: What are your prime three music documentaries?


The Eagles
Everett Collection

SIMMONS: The History of The Eagles half one is primary. I think about When We Were Kings a music documentary regardless that it’s about Ali, the way in which it makes use of music within the scene of that battle and the performances, to me it’s as a lot a music doc as a sports activities doc, in order that’s at all times within the dialog, U2, there’s a very good doc [From The Sky Down] from Davis Guggenheim about after they virtually broke up and rented a mansion in Europe and figured it out. The BBC did a Fleetwood Mac one [Don’t Stop], which I cherished, regardless that I really feel there’s a extra blown out model of it. I actually preferred The Bee Gees one [The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart]. I believed it was actually affecting. What’s your favourite?

DEADLINE: I like Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky’s Some Kind of Monster with Metallica and the therapist. Heavy Metal Parking Lot is an unbelievable underground movie about youngsters tailgating a Judas Priest live performance. You have the classics like Dont Look Back and Gimme Shelter, however for me, it’s Dig!, Ondi Timoner’s movie in regards to the battle between The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warholds. That’s my primary.

SIMMONS: I additionally actually like half three of The Defiant Ones. We had been growing OJ: Made In America once I was at ESPN and the most important purpose we had been making an attempt to develop it was we actually wished to do a multi-parter as a result of we’d run out of concepts for the sequence. We knew the multi-part factor was a wrinkle that we hadn’t seen and now you’ve OJ, The Defiant Ones and The Last Dance. To hold folks’s consideration for 5 to seven hours is without doubt one of the hardest issues you are able to do. You want actually good IP. One of the issues that I believe we’re going to see over the following couple of years, is a few unhealthy variations of it. We’re going to see some swollen IP.

DEADLINE: I believed The Grateful Dead doc Long Strange Trip was instance of a multi-part music doc, six elements over 4 hours.

SIMMONS: I preferred that. That’s an instance, however you possibly can’t inform The Grateful Dead story in 4 hours, you must do a bit of it. Amy, I believed Asif Kapadia did an incredible job on that. A doc my spouse actually preferred was [May It Last: A Portrait of The Avett Brothers] that Judd Apatow did. I don’t like that band practically as a lot as she does, and she or he flew to Colorado to see three straight reveals of theirs due to that documentary. I believe that’s the facility music documentaries have in comparison with the sports activities doc.

Source Link – deadline.com

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