Spitfire Pictures and Billy Joel’s Maritime Pictures are planning a feature doc based on Joel’s Shea Stadium concert performances this week.
Greg Whiteley and Jon Small are directing.
“Last Play at Shea” will weave docu footage with songs from the two concerts that Joel is giving tonight and Friday, the last before the historic stadium is torn down later this year.
“Last Play at Shea” will be financed by Joel’s Maritime, and Joel will produce with longtime associate Steve Cohen and Spitfire’s Nigel Sinclair. The film will be readied for 2009, and Spitfire will sell distribution territories.
Sinclair said the idea for the Shea concert docu came from Joel, who isn’t a big fan of concert films but saw the opportunity for a docu to track the intersecting paths of a blue-collar Long Island musician and the Queens ballpark that hosted its first concert in 1965 when the Beatles came to town.
“We wanted to approach this like a Ken Burns documentary, looking at Billy and Shea Stadium’s place in the pantheon of New York,” Cohen said.
Joel said: “This is something I’ve been avoiding my whole life, and I suppose I can’t put if off any longer.”
About a dozen music stars will take the stage with Joel during the two shows. Organizers wouldn’t name them, but they will be in the film.
Whiteley directed “New York Doll,” a Sundance Festival docu about former Dolls bassist Arthur “Killer” Kane. Small has shot videos and concert films for artists who include Van Morrison, and he filmed Joel’s 1990 performance at Yankee Stadium.
Sinclair’s Spitfire docus include “Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who,” and the Martin Scorsese-directed, Grammy-winning docu “No Direction Home: Bob Dylan”; a Scorsese-helmed doc on Beatles guitarist George Harrison is also in the works.
Spitfire is part of HS Media, which is financed by Dutch investment group Cyrte Investments. HS Media recently combined Spitfire and Hammer Studios. Among Spitfire’s dramatic features in the works is a biopic of Who drummer Keith Moon that will star Mike Myers.