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The power of documentaries; the near life experience


My professional and personal relationship with the Beatles
Albert Maysles Film-maker
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Well, when we- when we were making the film of The Beatles we made a deal with Granada Television that they would make their film, we would make ours, and our film we'd have complete rights to show in America and they would have complete rights to show it in England, and the rest of the world we'd share 50/50. But the problem was that they could show it in England without any problem because you didn't need releases there and we didn't have a release- and we didn't have a release from The Beatles because The Beatles had already negotiated with United Artists, I believe, in the production that was about to take place of "A Hard Day's Night", and they didn't want to give us a release so we couldn't show the film. And then, many years later, I think it was in 1991 that The Beatles decided that they would try to negotiate a deal with Granada Television and with us so that they could go ahead and get the film shown. So without getting our own release we, we submitted to a deal with, with Apple. And then they came back to us and asked us to make some changes which they thought would make the film more commercial. We didn't like that to happen but they asked us to make the changes and, and paid us for doing so. So with those changes which, which essentially were dropping out certain things that we felt so precious to the film and adding more music to it in the form of the performance that they did on television for "The Ed Sullivan Show"- Anyway, came out on a DVD and that was in 1991 so that's 13 or 14 years ago. And recently they wanted to make another DVD and they did, incorporating some of the original footage that had been left out, and then celebrating the 40th anniversary of The Beatles' first arrival in America, they asked me to, to join them on a press junket that would take me to England and to New York at the Plaza Hotel where The Beatles first came and stayed and also to Los Angeles. So I took my, my daughter Sara with me to Los Angeles and we met up with, with Ringo, whom I hadn't seen in 40 years, and we spent a lovely evening chatting with him in his home in Beverly Hills. Which is, of course, another way of saying that when you make a film and you maintain a good relationship, based on having had a good relationship with them and making a good film of, of people, that- that the relationship goes on. And in fact two years ago I got a call from Paul McCartney who was about to launch a, an evening program at Madison Square Garden with a bunch of other rock'n'roll stars- this was two weeks before that event took place- he called up to say- let's do another film. And so I spent those two weeks filming Paul and his- and his girlfriend at that time whom he later married, in preparation for the event at Madison Square Garden. And then I was there also in the dressing room with him all that evening as various celebrities came in to welcome him and to chat with, with him. And that film is just about finished. Unfortunately on that press junket I didn't get to see George Harrison because he had already gone, but I did meet his wife and she was- she was just delightful and I'm so happy that I met her, who was really, and to this day, is a wonderful representation indirectly of her husband.

Albert Maysles (1926-2015) known for his important documentaries on Muhammad Ali, Jimi Hendrix and The Beatles, pioneered the documentary style known as Direct Cinema. He helped create techniques still widely used in modern documentary production, as well as many of the techniques used in reality TV.

Listeners: Rebekah Maysles Tamara Tracz Sara Maysles

Rebekah Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is an artist living between New York and Philadelphia. She has her own line of clothing, Blackberryrose, and co-runs the store Sodafine in Fort Greene, Brooklyn, New York, a vintage and handmade store that sells clothing, books and other products made by artists.

Tamara Tracz is a writer and filmmaker based in London.

Sara Maysles, daughter of Albert Maysles, is currently doing her BA in East Asian Studies at Columbia University, and working as an Archivist of the photographs and photographic material at Maysles Films Inc., Albert‚s film production company. She spent ten months out of two years working with Tibetan refugees at a center in Nepal, and continues to travel back and forth between America and Asia.

Tags: The Beatles, Granada Television, USA, England, United Artists, A Hard Day's Night, Apple, The Ed Sullivan Show, New York, Plaza Hotel, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, Madison Square Garden, George Harrison, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney

Duration: 5 minutes, 10 seconds

Date story recorded: September 2004

Date story went live: 24 January 2008