Todd Haynes, best known for his offbeat films about Bob Dylan and Karen Carpenter, is set to direct a documentary on the Velvet Underground.
Director Todd Haynes announced in August that he is currently working on his first documentary, on the Velvet Underground. Variety, which published the exclusive story, quoted Haynes as saying the film will be “an intensely visual experience” that 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.”
The film will include interviews with surviving members of the Velvet Underground along with their contemporaries from the 1960s. Haynes said he hopes to interview the band’s surviving members, John Cale and Moe Tucker. Guitarist Sterling Morrison passed away in 1995 and singer Lou Reed died in 2013.
This year marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Velvet Underground & Nico, the band’s first album.
Haynes is known for his offbeat work. His first film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which chronicled the tragic life and death of the singer, starred actual Barbie Dolls as actors. Haynes was sued by Richard Carpenter over his use of the Carpenters’ music. Subsequently, the film was not released, immediately making it a cult hit.
In his 2007 film, I’m Not There, Haynes portrays legendary singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, using a total of six different actors, including a 14 year-old African American boy and a woman, Cate Blanchett. The film tells its story using non-traditional narrative techniques, intercutting the storylines of all the Dylan-inspired characters.
Currently untitled, the Velvet Underground film will be Haynes first attempt at a documentary, but the subject matter seems perfectly suited for the director. Forming at an especially creative moment in New York City, the Velvet Underground was a seminal band that brought together colliding worlds – music and art, hippies, models, and addicts. Uptown money and downtown bohemianism.
Haynes was quoted in the Variety article as saying of the film, “It will also be ‘challenging’ given there is so little documentation on the group,” and that he is looking forward to ‘the thrill of the research and visual assemblage’ and ‘getting in deep to the resources and material and stock and archival footage and the actual cinema and experimental work.’
While he gathers materials for this new project, Haynes’ new film, Wonderstruck (based on the 2011 Brian Selznick novel) is set to be released in theaters on October 20, 2017.