When R.J. Cutler first screened “Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” for the singer and her family, it was on a big IMAX screen and Cutler found her response to it to be gratifying. “She did tell me after watching the movie that she felt that it saw her in a way that she never had imagined others would see her and that the film understood her,” he tells Gold Derby during our recent Meet the Experts: Film Documentary panel (watch the exclusive video interview above). It also led to her making a crazy promise to the film’s editors. “When she met them, she told them she wanted to buy them each a car, so that was a good sign. She has not yet made such a purchase.”
“Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry” for Apple Original Films chronicles the singer’s path to worldwide superstardom. The film starts with Billie Eilish and her brother Finneas O’Connell writing and recording songs that will eventually make it on to her debut album, “When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?” We then go on to see the album released, its commercial success and the rigorous touring schedule that Eilish would embark upon. Cutler has been nominated for several Emmys throughout his career, winning Non-Fiction Program (Reality) in 2001 for “American High.”
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In terms of Eilish as an artist, Cutler believes she phenomenal in many ways but that she really speaks to the current generation of music lovers. “It’s a generation that, I think, yearns for a deeply empathic, shamanistic figure like Billie to connect with them and to feel their pain and communicate about it.” He adds that he did not realize that this would become a global phenomenon when he started the project but it fits into the image that Eilish has made for herself. “I think the power of her work is because of her deep empathy, the way she connects with her audience and because she provides a hidden resource for them.”
While Cutler will admit that Eilish’s rise to fame caught him a little by surprise, he is adamant that he does everything in his power not to be shocked by anything he covers. “I try not to be surprised because I try not to expect anything. I’m just trying to see it all as clearly as possible.” He did find himself caught off-guard about one of the themes that ended up defining the film. “I guess on some level I was surprised that the movie ended up being as much about parenting as it is about creating art.”
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