Cameron Crowe Talks Music Documentaries THE UNION and PEARL JAM TWENTY

     April 25, 2011


After having not released a new film in six years, Cameron Crowe is having a very busy year. If all goes according to plan, the writer/director will release not one, but three new movies this year. He’s been working simultaneously on his adaptation of We Bought a Zoo starring Matt Damon (filming just wrapped), the Elton John/Leon Russell documentary The Union (which just premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival), and the Pearl Jam documentary Pearl Jam Twenty (set for release this fall).

The director recently discussed working on the three projects and the differences and similarities between his two music documentaries. Hit the jump to see what he had to say.

the-union-album-coverWhile he’s only releasing one narrative feature this year, Crowe has been plenty busy with his two music docs. The Union chronicles the collaboration of Elton John and Leon Russell, with cameras present from the first day the two sat down to record their album. Pearl Jam Twenty is a retrospective doc made up of archival footage the band gave Crowe, who them assembled the raw footage together to create a cohesive documentary.

In speaking with Rolling Stone, Crowe likened his work schedule to Martin Scorsese’s when the film legend was working on The Departed and his Bob Dylan documentary No Direction Home at the same time. “I’m going by the Scorsese grid,” Crowe mused. And how did Crowe get it all done? “We’d shoot one during the week, and edit another on the weekends, it kept it all very exciting,” he explained.

Speaking about how Pearl Jam Twenty compares to The Union, Crowe had this to say:

“It’s the best souvenirs of the past. Some fabled footage you’ve heard exists but have never seen, and some interviews. So while The Union was, ‘How do we buff up the cinéma vérité?’, Pearl Jam Twenty is, ‘How do we do The Kids Are Alright of Pearl Jam, and sonic blast the best stuff?’ It’s a wider scope.”

pearl-jam-imageHe also spoke about the differences in each film’s subject. While John was comfortable with a camera being present, Pearl Jam was a bit different:

“For Elton, the camera is a buddy. Pearl Jam is not prone to opening the curtain the same way, and that is the challenge and delight of it.”

All in all, it’s a good time to be a Cameron Crowe fan. We Bought a Zoo is slated for December 23rd, Pearl Jam Twenty will be released in September, and The Union is currently searching for a distributor.

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