Thursday, August 4, 2011

Pearl Jam Twenty: Movie Press Packet

Someone has blessed the Pearl Jam community with a scan of the press packet created to publicize the upcoming release of Pearl Jam Twenty, directed by Cameron Crowe.  Most information is not new, but some is.  There is some fantastic biographical information, much of it by the band members themselves, dating back to when Jeff first sat down at a piano and Stone first picked up his ... um, trumpet?

To me, the real gem is this heartfelt description of the film written by Crowe.  Peruse the packet and decide for yourself.
This movie began as a conversation over the years.  At many a show, or on the occasion of a new Pearl Jam release, Kelly Curtis and I would casually have the same discussion -- someday we had to do our PJ movie.  "Someday we're going to really tell the whole story.  We'll use everything!  The unreleased stuff, the best of the live performances ..." Even in the process of making our short film, Single Video Theory, released around the time of Yield, we were already banking sequences for our mythical movie down the line.  We never quite knew what the shape would be, just that it would be our version of Jeff Stein's magnificent ode to the Who, The Kids Are Alright.  To any Who fan, that film caught the experience of being a fan of the band.  It gave their music a home on the big-screen, unfiltered and alive.  That was our goal, our mutual filmic obsession.  Our Pearl Jam movie. 
Finally, about three Christmas seasons ago, the project became very real. Pearl Jam's twentieth anniversary was just around the bend, and suddenly there was more than a reason. Now there was a deadline. With the help of Barbara McDonough, Kevin Shuss, Rick Krim, Tim Bierman and many others in all the nooks and crannies of the media world, we cast a big net out there. We wanted to find everything, all the footage floating out there, from fans and networks alike. By the time we were finished collecting, over 30,000 hours of Pearl Jam film and music had been assembled. Rooms of hard drives were wheezing under the load. The editors — Chris, Kevin and Adi — had become nearly automatic in their retention of dates and performances and nuances. Every long and short fade, every usable soundcheck jam, every outtake from other filmmakers’ shoots... they knew where to find it. The band never walked through a show, never wasted the opportunity to make a mark. The richness of the footage made our path very clear-just tell the story of the band and let the music guide us. And so we did. 
Our cuts were dangerously long, and jammed with footage from endless sources. The band had been filmed extensively, though not a lot had been officially released. We put so much into the film — moments, pieces of footage shot by band members, audio snippets, visual bursts, new and old interviews - many different formats, all meant to present an emotional scrapbook of what it felt like to be a member of the band on this twenty-year journey. The early ethic of the band defined them. Mix the shows up, change the songs, follow your instincts. Don't do every interview, don't chase the trappings, stay focused on the music and the songs... and keep playing. 
Their personal story, I always felt, was almost a campfire tale that deserved to be told. To every musician who thinks about playing, or wonders if they should continue, there were answers in the way Jeff Ament, Stone Gossard, Matt Cameron, Boom Gaspar, Mike McCready and Eddie Vedder had traveled the last twenty years together. Andrew Wood, the front-man and songwriting force within Mother Love Bone, deserved a place in this story too. Jeff and Stone's still fresh memories of their friend and inspired band-mate, lost to an overdose in 1990, would also give us a visceral feel for the time and place and mood around Seattle when Pearl Jam was born. 
And finally, our film is about the fans. It was a joy to show how close the relationship had been through the years. Pearl Jam, a band made up of music lovers, had been supported in good times and bad by the very experience that made them pick up their instruments - a love of music, a love of what it is to be a fan. If you love a group, and love their music, you sign on for the big ride. And if the band is deserving, they'll feel it every night. The audiences in all of our whirring hard-drives were amazingly consistent and electric in their support of the group. And the band always volleyed back with the same intensity, spinning the feeling into places we hope we've captured in PJ20. As Eddie says in our film, "There's this communal exchange. There's obviously a line drawn between who's on stage and who's in the crowd... but not really." So in that spirit, here is our Pearl Jam movie, filled with images and music, both personal and public, that shine a flashlight on the path of the last twenty years. Here are some of the memorable stops along that amazing journey, the life of Pearl Jam.