Jonathan Demme on directing ‘Neil Young Journeys’ concert film

From The Los Angeles Times:

Filmmaker Jonathan Demme sounded downright giddy when I chatted with him recently about his latest collaboration with one of rock’s great iconoclasts in the new documentary film “Neil Young Journeys.”

It’s the third concert film from Young and Demme in just six years, starting with 2006’s “Heart of Gold” and then 2010’s “Neil Young Trunk Show.”

“The privilege of teaming with Neil three times — it’s like, ‘I got to do that in my life?’ Demme said from his home in Rockland County in upstate New York during an interview for the Neil Young story running in Sunday’s Arts & Books section. “He’s been a gigantic character in my heart and brain since I was a hippie like him back in the ‘60s. His music was my companion for decades before I even met him.”

I asked about the distinctly different tone of each of their three films, each using pointedly different approaches to avoid any sense of repetition from one to the other.

“When we did the first one, ‘Heart of Gold,’” he said, “everything about that was conceived for that film: the choice of venue, we made the costumes, we made the backdrops, everything. The angles we wanted to shoot we rehearsed with the band for 10 days before the performance. It was lit exactly for the movie. We just knew everything we wanted to create.

“There was an extra bit of excitement with ‘Heart of Gold,’ in that the audience never would have heard any of these songs before, because it was going to be the debut of the ‘Prairie Wind’ album. ‘Heart of Gold’ turned out to be stylistically exactly what it was envisioned as.”

Four years later, they went almost 180 degrees the opposite direction for “Trunk Show,” which was shot during his “Chrome Dreams II” tour.

“As a reaction to the grace and elegance of ‘Heart of Gold,’ we decided it would be a punk shoot—we didn’t plan anything. We went with the lighting of the stage show, shot in the moment, very much like that,” Demme said.

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