Night Flight’s Stuart Samuels tells us about co-producing “The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years”

By on October 6, 2016

Night Flight’s Stuart Samuels tells us about co-producing the exciting new music documentary, The Beatles: Eight Days A Week – The Touring Years:

Rarely can one experience the making of a film from concept to content, from idea to product. I had one of those special moments, when I attended the gala world premiere screening of Ron Howard’s The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years. I am one of the Co-Producers of the film.

In 2008, my partners Matthew White, Bruce Higham, and I pitched an idea to Apple Corps., the Beatles corporate entity. We called our company One Voice, One World (OVOW), and the idea was to tell the story of the Beatles from a new perspective, the point-of-view of the fans.

Beatles Final Appearance On TOTP

In the early 1960’s, three technologies changed the world: the first global communications satellite Telstar, the user-friendly portable tape recorder and the 8mm color film camera.

These new technologies created the modern world and, for the first time, TV, print, audio, film formed a global system.

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The Beatles became the world’s first global superstars. Through film, TV, print, and live performances on five continents, and in thirteen countries, the Beatles created a unique bond between youth, music and pop culture that has defined our times.

Our proposal to Apple Corps. was to make a film about their touring years between 1963 and 1966 as a way recognize the Beatles contribution to the birth of global youth pop culture.

The upbeat musical message of love and joy ignited an emerging youth generation, bound for the first time by age and attitude, instead of by race, religion, class or national origin. Between 1963 and 1966 the whole world seemed to be singing in unison, with one voice.

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With the explosion of new user-friendly, user-generated tools, amateurs, people, fans–started to capture the big moments (and small) in their lives on portable tape recorders, in fanzines, in print, in point and shoot photographs, and with the new easy to use 8mm film cameras.

OVOW’s proposal to Apple Corp. was to prepare a new kind of database, event specific, date specific, and find those films, photos, and archives that captured the Beatles tours at the time by both the professional news and music archives as well as the amateur fans.

If you had a ticket to a Beatles concert, you would also bring your new portable tape recorder, your new Instamatic camera, or your sleek 8m movie camera to record this moment, the 1960’s equivalent to today’s YouTube videos.

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OVOW is an archive-based media company, and we created for Apple Corps. a database of the known archive sources, collectors, stock footage houses, historical societies, local home movie clubs, Beatle fan sites, regional TV and radio stations.

We put up a website where fans could connect to share their 8mm home movies: their own, their parents’, their friends. We were overwhelmed by the response.

Apple Corps. loved the idea, the aggregation of audio-visual materials that told the story of the Beatles from both the band and the fans point-of-view.

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Fast Forward to September 15, 2016. The gala premiere of The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years at the Leicester Square 1,600 seat Odeon, with director Ron Howard, Beatles Paul and Ringo, Yoko Ono, Olivia Harrison, Eric Clapton, Madonna and others in attendance.

Walking down the “blue” carpet, being interviewed by the world’s press, told to “look this way” by the army of paparazzi and then seeing your name up on the big screen — CO-PRODUCERS: MATTHEW WHITE, STUART SAMUELS, BRUCE HIGHAM — and in the credits acknowledged as the group who originated the idea and brought it to Apple Corps., it was a magical, special moment.

Stuart Samuel

Stuart Samuels

In the 1970’s I started teaching about pop culture when I was a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) teaching about pop culture.

Now, over four decades later, here I was making pop culture history.

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My years at Night Flight — programming, producing, writing, editing — are present in the new Beatles film. (Read more here).

The central core of the NF “zeitgeist” was that music and pop culture have to be viewed through the context of social and cultural history, part of a larger pattern.

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NF’s programs were woven together by a narrative thread that linked different media by an often bizzare, alternative, non-rational point of view. It was the NF world.

My journey from Penn to Night Flight to Co-Producing the new Beatles film has an intellectual continuity.

I talked with the “voice” of Night Flight, Pat Prescott , on her radio program on 94.7 The Wave (listen to the interview here).

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Between 1963 and 1966 the youth of the world sang with one voice: the words and music of the Beatles.

For that brief period, the world sang in harmony about Love, Hope and Joy.

To catch a glimpse of that magic moment, I urge you to go see The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years on a screen with 5:1 sound.

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About stuart

Dr. Stuart Samuels is an acclaimed academic (Univ. of Penn: 1968-1981),and a film and television producer, writer, and award-winning documentary filmmaker. (Visions of Light: The Art of Cinematography; Midnight Movies: From The Margin to the Mainstream). His works explore the relationship of popular culture to the broader historical context of their times. Stuart was one of the original writers, Producer, and creative partners on Night Flight. He is developing a Night Flight Series of PopCasts coming soon.