Stanley Nelson on the Challenges of Making ‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’ (Video)

Sundance 2019: “We tried to get some of every era in there,” director Stanley Nelson told TheWrap’s Steve Pond

Director Stanley Nelson dropped by TheWrap’s studios at Sundance to talk about the challenges of making a two-hour documentary about legendary musician Miles Davis.

“It was really challenging but I think in some ways it was a two-hour story,” Nelson told TheWrap’s Steve Pond. “Everybody wants to do a series now and so many times they seem inflated. I think you have to have something else going on besides just a straight biography if it’s six hours.”

“We tried to get some of every era in there,” added Nelson. “So many people concentrate on the late ’50s-early ’60s Miles, but we wanted also to talk about the ’70s and ’80s Miles.”

Watch the rest of the interview with Nelson in the embed above.

According to a synopsis of the film, “Using words from Miles Davis’ autobiography, ‘Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool’ offers an incisive insight into our understanding of the legendary musician.”

“Newly released archival material, alongside interviews with preeminent historians and personal friends like Quincy Jones, illustrate a man of intensity and devotion to his craft,” the synopsis continues. “Despite the indignities of America during the time of segregation, nothing was going to stop Davis from realizing his dream: to create a new form of musical expression. Davis worked like a physicist with his collaborators to push musical experimentation and widen the tones and lyricism of jazz–the effects of which are felt to this day.”

“As the film delves into his past loves, personal relationships and addictions, a clearer portrait of Davis the man emerges,” the synopsis continues. “Davis is fearless and engaging throughout, and his intellectual fervor is only tempered by his insecurities. Director Stanley Nelson’s epic biopic collects the strands of a creative life and weaves them together for us to understand one of the great modern American artists like never before.”