By Camden Ferrell
Few people have had as consequential an impact on music as Brian Wilson. Through his work with The Beach Boys and his solo work, he has crafted a legacy that has lasted generations. He is the focus of Brent Wilson’s newest documentary Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road which is premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to attend a virtual press conference with director Brent Wilson, Rolling Stone editor and Brian’s longtime friend Jason Fine, as well as the one and only Brian Wilson. Here’s what we learned.
Brent Wilson met Brian Wilson while working on his previous film Streetlight Harmonies, and after becoming close on set, Brent wanted to make a movie about Brian. Brent mentioned that Brian has had many things written about his career but this “incredible third act [Brian] was having in his life” hadn’t properly been captured yet. He wanted to create an “intimate” film that would show us a different side of the musician. He then got the thumbs up from Brian and his wife, Melinda. From there, Brent was recommended to meet with Fine who wrote multiple articles about Brian and was also great friends with him.
For his article Brian Wilson’s Better Days, Fine drove around L.A. with Brian for 3-4 days, and Brent wanted to capture that type of conversational intimacy. When asked about how it felt filming, Fine mentioned that aside from the myriad of cameras in the car, it all felt “natural”. Fine said that he and Brian have been driving around L.A., listening to music, and going to eat for years, so there was no pressure when filming the movie over the course of three weekends. Brian has a lot of history and memories embedded within the city, and Fine noted that driving around with him felt significant due to Brian’s past with the area. Throughout the interview, they banter and reminisce a lot about the restaurants, the beaches, and even a party with Paul McCartney.
When asked why he agreed to the movie, Brian said he didn’t really know; he just made up his mind on it. Although, he does concede that Fine’s involvement was also a factor in his decision. Throughout the film, Brian and Fine are driving and listening to music. This music includes some of Brian’s work as well as the music of his brothers Dennis and Carl. He enjoyed the experience of hearing this music with his friend, and it was clear in these moments in the interview that Brian and Fine had such great chemistry and camaraderie.
As filming wrapped, there was roughly seventy hours of footage. When asked how one condenses that much footage to ninety minutes, Brent simply responded, “painfully”. While they all laugh at this remark, Brent proceeds to talk about how it genuinely hurt him to cut so much footage. There were a lot of “beautiful” moments that he wanted to keep in, but he also knew his film had to breathe. He talks about the “quiet” moments of the movie where Brian and Fine aren’t talking and how it was important to the final product. They spent three months sorting through footage before even editing the movie, but Brent mentioned that focusing on the juxtaposition between their interesting conversation and the more reflective silences was a tough but proper choice.
Fine remarks that seeing Brian in this casual environment, the viewer gets to see the “courage”, “humor”, and “strength” he has as a person. He says people know the music, not the man, and that this movie provides a window into how much of a joy it is to spend time with Brian. Throughout this interview, it is clear that Brent and Fine have such a profound respect for Brian and that this movie is a testament to the love and admiration they have for him as an artist and as a person.
Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is currently seeking distribution.