Acclaimed Filmmaker Stanley Nelson Talks Getting Into Miles Davis' Head With 'Miles Davis: Birth Of Cool' [Sundance Interview]
If we’re lucky, many of us may have the fortune of doing one extraordinary thing in a lifetime. The late legend Miles Davis had the luck of ten men. The world-renowned trumpet player had an exemplary career that spanned five decades. Though he was temperamental and sometimes vicious, the only time Davis allowed himself to be vulnerable was when he was creating and playing his music. A chameleon who was able to shift and change with the times without ever losing the essence of who he was, Davis lived quite a life. In his brilliant documentary, Miles Davis: Birth of Cool, acclaimed filmmaker Stanley Nelson gives his audience a window into Davis’ life —one that showcases his triumphs and his demons.
The film, which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, is comprised of archival footage, studio outtakes, and rare photos. More than that, the documentary is from Davis’ own perspective, with words from his autobiography, Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool. Nelson also conducted interviews from those closest to Davis, including his family, friends, and contemporaries. Just after the film’s premiere, Shadow and Act sat down with Nelson to discuss his long journey to complete the film, and the tension that came with tackling such a massive icon.
"We started almost fifteen years ago with American Masters," Nelson remembered. "We got permission from the family, and then from Sony Music. Then somehow, some way, the project kind of fell apart and just got scuttled. Then maybe two years ago it got resurrected, so we've been working on it a solid two years now.”
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