Having enjoyed the runaway success of his bravura three-part documentary The Beatles: Get Back, which picked up five Emmy nominations and brought Beatlemania kicking and screaming into the 21st-century, Peter Jackson has announced that he has a follow-up in the works.
Speaking to Deadline, Jackson would not be drawn on the details, but did say he was in conversation with the Fab Four’s surviving members, bassist/vocalist Paul McCartney and drummer Ringo Starr, about another Beatles film – one that just might turn out quite differently.
“I’m talking to The Beatles about another project, something very, very different than Get Back,” Jackson said. “We’re seeing what the possibilities are, but it’s another project with them. It’s not really a documentary … and that’s all I can really say.”
He has said plenty. For Beatles fans, having a filmmaker such as Jackson turned loose on archive footage and reanimating the band’s legacy for the present day is huge news.
Get Back presented an invaluable perspective on a pivotal moment in the band’s history, and in popular culture – also giving us a hi-def look at the electric guitars and guitar amps that were used back then. Where he takes this collaboration – animation, another excavation of the archives for some sort of concert performance – is guaranteed to be fascinating.
Jackson was, however, more expansive when talking about Get Back and the joy he took as a Beatles nut spending four years of his life poring over and restoring 130 hours of audio and 57 hours of video archive footage shot by Michael Lindsay-Hogg for his 1970 documentary Let It Be.
With access to this, and a longer run-time, Jackson could open up the story of the Beatles’ final album, and topped it off with The Beatles: Get Back – The Rooftop Concert, which opened in January.
But there was more than this. Jackson also provided Paul McCartney with the A/V background to perform a duet on I've Got a Feeling with his late bandmate John Lennon when he headlined the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury 2022. It was the moment of the week; a pop-cultural moment for the ages. But Jackson was not sure how McCartney would take it when he first had the idea for it.
“I had that idea when I started working on Get Back, four years ago,” Jackson said. “We had access to all that footage, and to do something like that, you need the footage. The shots have to be right. I didn’t mention it to Paul. I thought, ‘Suggesting to Paul that he sing onstage with John, he’s going to think I’m a fanboy geek idiot.’”
Jackson shot some footage from McCartney when he played Los Angeles’ Dodger Stadium on July 13 2019, with plans to mock up a CGI demo of what it would look like with Lennon on the jumbotron. The pandemic arrived and he never shared it. Besides, he worried about appearing “geeky”, becoming another super-fan with a super-crazy pitch.
But ideas like that tend to have a restless quality. They need out. Once Jackson was back in the editing suite for Get Back, and the McCartney touring machine restarted, he made his move.
“Finally, I thought, ‘I’m going to regret this for the rest of my life if I don’t even suggest it,’” he said. “I sent him a text. I didn’t send him the mockup version, just a text trying to describe it to him. Within 10 minutes, he replied to me: ‘Yeah, this is a fantastic idea; let’s go do it.’ Then it was a frantic rush to restore frames that were missing from that long shot of John from Let It Be. But Paul was thrilled by it.”
Jackson also paid tribute to Lindsay-Hogg for shooting so much footage. The Lord of the Rings director has described Get Back as a documentary about a documentary before, and he believes Lindsay-Hogg, and his film, are underrated.
“The way he should be thought of is, he not only made Let It Be, he shot all the footage we see in Get Back,” Jackson said. “That’s all his and Michael deserves a huge shout out.”
Jackson’s sound editing team had to develop artificial intelligence to restore the sound and separate the tracks to Get Back. The film is nominated for Outstanding Sound Editing for a Nonfiction or Reality Program. You can read the full interview over at Deadline.