Cameron Crowe has been out of the public eye for years now but the former Rolling Stone reporter has three films finished; a feature starring Matt Damon called “We Bought a Zoo” and two music documentaries. The director famously fictionalized his youth — spent following around legendary bands like The Who and The Allman Brothers — in his 2000 film, “Almost Famous.” He recently talked to his old employer about his new Pearl Jam doc, “Pearl Jam Twenty” and his Elton John/Leon Russell picture, “The Union,” which premiered last week at the Tribeca Film Festival.
Some 20 hours of archival footage were used to piece together Pearl Jam’s story, which as the title indicates, stretches back some 20 years now (give or take by the time the film comes out). “It’s the best souvenirs of the past,” Crowe told Rolling Stone. “Some fabled footage you’ve heard exists but have never seen, and some interviews. So while “The Union” was, ‘How do we buff up the cinéma vérité?’, “Pearl Jam Twenty” is, ‘How do we do “The Kids Are Alright” of Pearl Jam, and sonic blast the best stuff?’ It’s a wider scope.”
Crowe acknowledged the vast differences between the disparate subjects of these two new projects, especially in terms of their public identity and relationships to fame. “For Elton, the camera is a buddy,” the Crowe said. “Pearl Jam is not prone to opening the curtain the same way, and that is the challenge and delight of it.”
Pearl Jam’s relationship with Crowe stretches back at least to “Almost Famous.” The scene where William (Crowe’s character) gets pulled into the band’s pre-show huddle was allegedly based on when Eddie Vedder pulled Crowe into Pearl Jam’s huddle before taking the stage at Lollapalooza. Pearl Jam’s Mike McCready performed the guitar tracks for the fictional band’s songs in the film. Crowe also shot Pearl Jam’s 2009 video for “The Fixer.”