In all of his feature films, filmmaker Edgar Wright has injected energy and excitement thanks to his specific selections of music, creating unique soundtracks as memorable as his narratives. While his latest effort, the documentary The Sparks Brothers, might not have a fantastical storyline, his chronicling of Sparks' musical evolution over the decades sometimes feels more bizarre than any script he could have concocted. Despite his passion for Sparks, he didn't even realize that he would end up being the filmmaker to honor their accomplishments through a documentary, with a chance encounter with another filmmaker resulting in the project moving forward. The Sparks Brothers hits theaters on June 18th.
"The irony is that I had not necessarily been planning to make a musical documentary but I had been, as a Sparks fan, saying out loud to anybody who'd listen, 'Somebody needs to do a documentary about Sparks. Oh, my God, Sparks is one of the best and most influential bands, we don't have a documentary about them. If only somebody could do an overview of this band, it would show everybody how great they are and they'd be as lauded as they deserve to be,'" Wright recalled to ComicBook.com. "So I would say this quite frequently without necessarily thinking I was gonna be that person. And it was [Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse producer] Phil Lord, we went together to see Sparks in Los Angeles in 2017, that he said, 'You should make the movie.' I was like, 'Yes!' So it was like Phil did the final push and then, that night, I mentioned it to Ron and Russell [Mael], and they said, 'We'd love that,' and it was only then that they said they'd had offers in the past and had said no."
The documentary is described, "How can one rock band be successful, underrated, hugely influential, and criminally overlooked all at the same time? From acclaimed director Edgar Wright comes The Sparks Brothers, a musical odyssey through five weird and wonderful decades with brothers/bandmates Ron and Russell Mael. Featuring passionate tributes from Beck, Flea, Jack Antonoff, Patton Oswalt, and more, The Sparks Brothers celebrates the inspiring legacy of your favorite band’s favorite band."
Given how long he's been a fan of Sparks, there wasn't much about the production that surprised the filmmaker, other than the discovery that the Mael brothers are as eccentric and genuine as their music.
"I guess it was the inkling that I already had that was great to confirm, which was that I never really saw Sparks off the clock in the sense that, they say, 'Never meet your heroes,' and the pleasure of this is that they were the greatest people to meet and know," Wright detailed of what he personally learned from the experience. "I was already friends with them, but to spend a lot of time with them, and you pull back the curtain and it's still them. And I think that's the thing, Russell says it in the documentary, but the line between Ron and Russell and Sparks has become a permanent blur. And that's the great thing because that's not the case when you sometimes meet your musical heroes and they're disappointing, but Sparks has this amazing knack of, [all] at once, being super down to Earth and modest and yet they're still ethereal. They're still like amazing space aliens. It's a really canny trick to pull off of being nice and modest and unassuming and still terribly enigmatic at the same time."
With The Sparks Brothers being Wright's first documentary and with him often professing his love for various films and filmmakers, some might think a movie-related documentary project could be on the horizon, but the director noted that this experience was a unique blend of interests.
"I couldn't think what that would be, in terms of ... I mean, I guess I really appreciate what Martin Scorsese has done in film documentary in terms of doing a deep dive on a genre or like what he did with his [A Personal Journey with Martin Scorsese Through American Movies] or what he did with his documentary about Italian movies, My Voyage to Italy, and I really appreciate what Mark Cousins does with The Story of Film and Women Make Film," the director pointed out of possibly exploring cinema in a documentary endeavor. "He makes some amazing documentaries. I don't know whether I've thought about anything like that. I think, in a weird way, music has been such a big part of my feature films that it was like destiny that my documentary was going to be about music."
The Sparks Brothers hits theaters on June 18th.0comments
Are you looking forward to the new movie? Let us know in the comments below or contact Patrick Cavanaugh directly on Twitter to talk all things Star Wars and horror!
Header photo courtesy of Adrienne Pitts/Anna Webber/Focus Features