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The Reeler Blog

A Petty Dream


By S.T. VanAirsdale

During our recent ReelerTV interview with Peter Bogdanovich, I asked for a bit of background about the filmmaker's selection in this year's New York Film Festival: Runnin' Down a Dream, an epic documentary about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers screening Oct. 14 in the fest's Special Events sidebar.

"The band's been going for 30 years," Bogdanovich told me, "and it was the 30th anniversary of their first album last year. So I went on tour with them for a few months, and I interviewed Tom and the band at great length along with various producers who've worked with them. Stevie Nicks and so on. And it's quite long -- it's very long. It's 200 and... I don't know. It's almost four hours long. It's shown in two parts; there's a 10- or 15-minute break. But we really went in depth on this thing, and we also celebrate the music, so you get a chance to hear Tom and the band play. Not just snippets, but there's a number of songs that we do all the way through. There's a great performance of 'American Girl' that's from a television show in England. Things like that -- rare performances. We had 300 hours of archival material to deal with, and we shot another 100 hours of interviews. It's very inclusive. But it's largely about the music and his struggles to preserve the integrity of his work.

"He's very funny," Bogdanovich continued. "It shows his influences. He's very personable; he's very American. When I was first was told the story -- Tom told it to me over a four-hour lunch we had back in November of '05 -- I said, 'Well, this is a success story.' What's interesting is that you can tell a success story -- you can tell any story, but particularly a success story -- in three sentences. What makes it interesting are the details. That's what makes it different, and we've gone into great detail telling it."

Tickets for Runnin' Down a Dream are available on the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Web site. We'll have full coverage of the film following its preview screening Oct. 10.

Posted at September 12, 2007 6:05 PM

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