November 18th, 2010
Filmmaker Interview (and Podcast Extra)
Director/Producer Michael Epstein

Director/Producer Michael Epstein

For the upcoming premiere of LENNONYC for American Masters on PBS on November 22nd at 9p.m. (check local listings), producer Jessica Levin and director/producer Michael Epstein sat down to discuss the making of the film and answer some questions about the creative process. In this interview, they discuss why they chose John Lennon for a profile, what makes the English born artist an American Master, the creative choice to exclude a lengthy discussion of Lennon’s murder from the film, and Yoko Ono’s creative support for the project, as well as what it was like to work with a legendary personality like her. If you enjoyed this behind the scenes look into LENNONYC, check out the full podcast episodes for LENNONYC: Beyond Broadcast (Episode One with Jack Douglas is here and the full subscription feed can be found here).

Download the MP3 of the film maker interview here or listen below.

Highlights from the interview -

On why Lennon is an American Master: “John in New York was always a part of how I saw John’s story… John’s a New Yorker. New York is just the right lens, I’ve said before, to look at John’s post-Beatles life.”

On Double Fantasy: “I really did not connect with Double Fantasy when it came out – I was in high school – they were beautiful songs, but they didn’t have meaning, didn’t have emotion, didn’t connect, because how the hell could they? I was a teenager…. [Double Fantasy] is not for the sixteen year olds… It’s an album that is profoundly important to me as I think it would be to any parent as they get older.”

On why John’s murder isn’t explored in the film: “Chapman killed John for two reasons, one was he thought John had sort of become a phoney… the other was that he wanted to be famous. I didn’t want to give Chapman more fame – another platform, another pat on the back for killing John.”

On Yoko Ono’s participation in the film: “There’s this notion that she’s still a witch, that she broke up The Beatles, that she had John under her thumb and therefore has us under her thumb and that’s just not true.”

Listen below:

  • Scott M

    I’d love for Michael to “…give me a sense of…” what it’s like to have made this documentary. ;-) (We’ve heard that phrase a LOT over the last several weeks!)

    Looking forward to the broadcast. Thanks for sharing this “extra” material!

  • Kent C

    For the LA segment, why didn’t we here from Jim Ladd?

  • Gerald in Sacramento

    This was really great work: biography, history, music, art, politics all mixed together in a beautiful production. Congratulations Mr. Epstein. You and your production team deserve it.

  • JR

    I did this pencil drawing of john in Winnipeg canada ironically as 9/11 was happening…so i have the towers in the back ground very lightly as the original was taken in front of them…but the emphisis was on the gun (ladysmith that he was short with ) and the words that surrounded him , all his words from his songs ending up side down saying “Give peace a chance ” have a look ..
    peace ….

  • Scott M

    Original podcast plans called for a post-broadcast podcast. I don’t see that posted anywhere. Did the plans change?

  • Naomi T.

    A brilliant piece of film making. I’ve never appreciated John Lennon fully until I saw this. Not only was he a brilliant musician but what a wry wit! I had a huge lump in my throat at the end. Oh, what music he still had in him to make. Such a complete tragedy. Your film captured his life so beautifully. Well done.


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