Tuesday, 4 October 2011

"George Harrison: Living In The Material World" - a film by me and Martin Scorsese

This week sees the premiere of George Harrison: Living In The Material World, a feature-length documentary directed by Martin Scorsese, that I worked on a few years ago.

I was first interviewed by the film's producers while I was working in Belfast in the summer of 2005. I flew over to London for a meeting about a project concerning a then-unnamed musician. I had no idea it was George Harrison - in fact, I thought that it was something to do with The Who. I recall being asked who my favourite Beatle was, and by some good fortune I replied, "George." Another day I might have said something different, but I was in luck. I had been listening to All Things Must Pass around that time.

The meeting went well, and the following day I was introduced to Olivia Harrison, George's widow, and I learned what it was all about. I was sworn to absolute secrecy, though, and I'm probably still bound by the non-disclosure agreements that I signed, so I won't go into too much detail.

It wasn't until October 2006 that I began work on George's archive, which kept me busy until December 2007. I was tasked with archiving his photographic collection: securing their long-term preservation, creating high-res scans of the pictures, and cataloguing them in a database that could be accessed by Scorsese's New York office. It was difficult - I had no experience with stills archiving, so I was learning as I worked. Of course the big names were intimidating, as was the setting - an orchidarium in the grounds of Friar Park, the Harrison family home in Henley-on-Thames. 

The critics have been favourable - some, like Philip French in the Guardian, have even mentioned the family photos. It's very gratifying, and it was nice to be invited to the premiere, even if it's a bit far to go for a night out. It will be screened in Australia towards the end of October; I can't wait to see it, and I'm told that my name is in the credits. Along with Martin Scorsese's. I don't think that will happen again.

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