Indie filmmaker Todd Haynes (“Carol”) will direct his first-ever documentary on the juggernaut rock band The Velvet Underground. Haynes spoke about the project with Variety at the Locarno Film Festival in Switzerland, where he received the Pardo d’onore Manor award for his career in film; the achievement comes 26 years after his first indie flick, “Poison,” was selected for the festival. He will be collaborating with producing partner Christine Vachon of Killer Films, David Blackman, and Universal Music Group.
The documentary comes at an apt time, as 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the release of “Velvet Underground & Nico.” Haynes notes that the project will “rely certainly on [Andy] Warhol films but also a rich culture of experimental film, a vernacular we have lost and we don’t have, [and that] we increasingly get further removed from.”
One of the major hurdles Haynes faces with the doc is the meager amount of actual documentation on the group. Luckily, the indie director is reportedly pleased to dive into research for the project. He also wants to include interviews from living members of The Velvet Underground for the documentary.
The Velvet Underground made music at the height of the contemporary 1960s artistic movement, and had relatively low record sales. Still, many artists were inspired by the band’s music, with David Bowie even covering several tracks on his Ziggy Stardust tour. According to Haynes, “their influence has nothing to do with sales or visibility or the ways we portion ideas of success.”
The subject is a good choice for the indie filmmaker, whose projects tackle singularly unique stories and people. Haynes has directed only seven feature films and the HBO series “Mildred Pierce,” but the filmmaker has made his mark. He’s best known for playing with the narrative structure of his projects, along with weaving an ever-present eroticism and sexuality into each story. He was nominated for an Academy Award for his writing on “Far From Heaven,” plus two Golden Globes and three Primetime Emmys. He’s also come in second place twice for our Awards Circuit Community Awards for directing “Carol” and writing “Far From Heaven.”
No premiere date or title have been released for the doc.