Martin Scorsese will direct a documentary about Bob Dylan and the impact his early music had on the cultural and political landscape.
Scorsese, who featured Dylan in his screen version of the Band’s “The Last Waltz,” will have full cooperation from the singer, who’ll give his first filmed interview in 20 years.
Project is being financed by Guy East and Nigel Sinclair’s Spitfire Pictures, along with Thirteen/WNET New York and BBC Television. The film will debut on WNET’s “American Masters” series and BBC’s “Arena.”
It will be shopped for theatrical or TV distribution in other territories by Sinclair, who’s producing with Jeff Rosen of Greywater Park, WNET’s Susan Lacy and BBC’s Anthony Wall. Scorsese’s Cappa Prods. will also produce.
The docu will begin in 1963, when Dylan began his rise to socially conscious folk hero status with songs like “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Like a Rolling Stone.” It stops at 1966, after he shocked his audience by going electric. He had a motorcycle accident that year and didn’t tour again for another eight years. Dylan’s last filmed interview was for a “20/20” segment in 1985; he has never spoken this extensively about his early career.
“I had been a great fan for many years when I had the privilege to film Bob Dylan for ‘The Last Waltz,’ ” said Scorsese. “I’ve admired and enjoyed his many musical transformations. For me, there is no other musical artist who weaves his influences so densely to create something so personal and unique. This project gives me a chance to explore one of the most exciting artists and icons of the past 50 years.”
Sinclair and East’s first film since they left Intermedia to form Spitfire was “Masked and Anonymous,” which features the acting and music of Dylan. This docu is, in part, an outgrowth of that film.
Sinclair has always wanted to make a Dylan project on the order of the highly successful “Beatles Anthology.” When he met Dylan, they got into discussions about “Masked and Anonymous,” which Sony Pictures Classics will release July 26, and delayed the bio.
“Imagine the chance to have Bob looking back at those years, with an exhaustive catalog of concert and other footage that has never been seen, and Martin Scorsese to interpret it and make it his authored story,” said Sinclair.
The footage includes plenty of concert material through those years, including Dylan’s first-ever performance on the electric guitar.
WNET’s Lacy had been imagining it for a decade, and her continued calling paid off when Dylan became ready to tell his story.
“Was there a more important artist helping us deal with our collective angst back then?” asked Lacy.
She said footage is being catalogued and delivered to Scorsese, who’ll begin to make choices and then do the editing on the project when he completes production on “The Aviator,” the Howard Hughes film that stars Leonardo DiCaprio. The Dylan pic will be ready in late 2004 or early 2005.