Among the things that caught Frank Marshall off guard when he started making a documentary about The Bee Gees was the incredible sense of humor that the brothers had not only with each other, but almost all the time. “You don’t see that in the band on the stage, but when they’re off stage and they’re back there cracking jokes, they’re playing games on each other,” Marshall tells us in our recent webchat (watch the video above). Marshall traces this to the incredibly strong bond that the brothers developed from performing together at such a young age. “They had this dream when they were nine, ten years old, that they wanted to be a band and they had the perseverance and the drive that they had and their parents supported them.”
“The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend a Broken Heart,” which is currently streaming on HBO Max, examines the history of the brotherly trio made up of Barry Gibb, Maurice Gibb and Robin Gibb. It chronicles their start in the mid-1960s to becoming full-fledged pop culture phenomenon with their contributions to the soundtrack for “Saturday Night Fever” as well as their later efforts as songwriters. Marshall has an astounding filmography as both a director and producer, having worked with Steven Spielberg for many years alongside his wife Kathleen Kennedy. This has also led to him receiving five Oscar nominations for Best Picture: “Raiders of the Lost Ark” (1981), “The Color Purple” (1985), “The Sixth Sense” (1999), “Seabiscuit” (2003) and “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” (2008).
The route that led to Marshall making this movie actually had roots with his father. “I grew up in Van Nuys and my dad was a composer, arranger, guitarist and he was under contract at Capitol Records. So I spent a lot of time as a kid at Capitol Records.” It was five years ago that Marshall was invited to meet with Capitol’s CEO Steve Barnett at their refurbished headquarters and the two got to talking about the resurgence of music documentaries. “I said, ‘Well, what do you got?’ And he said, ‘Well, we just bought the Bee Gees.’ And I went, ‘Wow, I love The Bee Gees! How about we do that?’ And that’s kinda how it started.”
Marshall, along with Kennedy, received the highest honor for a producer when he was awarded the Irving G. Thalberg Award by the Academy in 2018. “It was such a wonderful, warm night with all of our friends there and a celebration of all this work and the people that we have done the work work with.” Marshall added that he’s a big fan of the current set-up of having the Governor’s Awards presented during a separate ceremony, pointing out that the ceremony allowed for longer reels, more presenters and a much more relaxed atmosphere. “When you only have 45 seconds, you can’t thank everybody. You can’t say what it meant to be working on these movies with different people and you know, we’re a family, so you want to acknowledge those people.”
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