By Gregory Crofton
Opening night of the 52nd Nashville Film Festival was a blast as a large group of certifiable film freaks defied the dangers of COVID-19 to meet up in person and watch “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road.”
This year the festival (Sept. 20-Oct. 6) is a mix of virtual and in-person screenings happening around downtown Nashville at places like Rocketown.
In past years, NAFF was hosted at Regal Hollywood 27, a multiplex nearby, and prior held for many years at Regal Green Hills, just west of downtown.
Channel Nonfiction was lucky to post up along the red carpet on opening night and be the first speak to Brent Wilson (no relation to Brian), director of “Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road,” and Rolling Stone journalist Jason Fine, about their work on the project.
Key to the film was Fine’s long friendship with Brian Wilson. Wilson is not comfortable with a typical interview setup, so Fine took him on filmed car rides where he’d be more at ease and willing to open up about his craft, mental illness and drug use – really the overall wild ride of his life.
Some of the coolest parts of the documentary involve watching Wilson listen to his own music, and the solo album (Pacific Ocean Blues) by Dennis Wilson, one of his two brothers and the drummer for The Beach Boys.
Channel Nonfiction: Why did you make the film?
Jason Fine: It had to be made.
Brent Wilson: Great answer. Brian Wilson… ah…. I don’t think there is enough stories, books, movies that can be done on Brian Wilson. I don’t think you could ever really every truly capture this guy.
JF: There’s a lot of mythology about Brian, but people don’t, for as famous as he is, for as monumental as his music is, really know who he is or what he’s been through, or what sort of led him to be able to create such incredible music. You know you hear the word genius a lot, but what does that really mean? Who is the man? How did he come to this? That was sort of the idea behind it.
CF: I read the film has a memoir bent to it? What’s the angle on it?
JF: The angle on it is to allow Brian to tell his story in the way that he wants to tell his story. A lot of people have imposed stories around Brian and what Brian’s music is about, but he’s never really told his stories himself. So the idea was to allow him to be comfortable in a way that he felt like he could share, and see what comes out, and that I think is what comes through in the film.
CF: How long did you guys work on the project?
BW: Oh my goodness. Five years? Four years? Four and a half years. It was a long process. We had some stop and starts.
We started before we were quite ready to go because he was doing a show at the Hollywood Bowl, and he was doing a show at the Ryman. There were only those two places that I wanted to shoot on the tour. I knew both of those places were going to be very special, so we jumped the production a little bit, probably by six, seven, eight months, to shoot at the Ryman and the Hollywood Bowl.
And then during production we had to slow down. Brian had some surgeries, some back surgeries that slowed us down a little bit. And then the editing …. we spent nine months editing … so it’s a four-year process.
Listen to the Q&A that took place with Brent Wilson and Jason Fine after the screening Thursday night at Rocketown:
Watch a clip from the film below: