George Harrison said he wanted to make a “silly comedy movie full of silly music” with his production company, HandMade Films.
Initially, George formed the production company to help fund Life of Brian, a comedy by his friends in Monty Python. Then, HandMade Films grew as George wanted to work on more projects. He had special plans for one of his own.
George Harrison said he got into the film business and started HandMade Films ‘purely by accident’
In 1988, George told Film Comment that he got into the film business and started HandMade Films “purely by accident.”
“An English company had backed out of the Monty Python film Life of Brian in preproduction,” George explained. “And the guys, friends of mine, asked me whether I could think of a way to help them get the film made.
“I asked Denis O’Brien, who had been my business manager since the end of 73. After thinking about it for a week, he came back and suggested that we produce it. I let out a laugh because one of my favorite films is The Producers, and here we were about to become Bialystock and Bloom.
“Neither of us had any previous thought of going into the movie business, though Denis had a taste of it managing Peter Sellers and negotiating some of the later Pink Panthers films. It was a bit risky, I guess, totally stepping out of line for me, but as a big fan of Monty Python my main motive was to see the film get made.”
Then O’Brien “got a bug for it,” and they decided to keep the production company after Life of Brian.
George wanted to make a ‘silly comedy movie full of silly music’ with HandMade Films
For the most part, George didn’t combine music and film in HandMade Films. He wrote songs for films like “Shanghai Surprise,” “Water,” and “Time Bandits,” but that was it.
However, he dreamed of combining his talents and making a “silly comedy movie full of silly songs.”
“Someday, I’d like to make a real silly comedy movie full of silly music,” George said. “I don’t really fancy my chances of being a scriptwriter or an actor, but I do have a lot of silly ideas in the back of my head. If we can make enough money so that it doesn’t matter if I blow a couple million on my own ideas, I’d like to follow some of them up. Maybe as my last fling, I’ll have this huge but very cheap flop with all my mates in it.”
The former Beatle said music and film go together
George told Mark Rowland (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters) that music and film go together. However, it wasn’t always the case.
Rowland asked, “Do you think that rock and roll has—from your perspective as a film producer perhaps, or maybe just as a fan of films—has had an influence on movies?”
George replied, “Yeah, I think it’s been coming for years in music and film, hasn’t it. Music and film, they go together very well. If you make a film you need music on it and since, however many years now, you make music and they stick a film on it whether you like it or not. I think in some cases music and film are part and parcel of the same experience.
“They can all complement each other. It depends on how it’s done really. I think in certain areas some things have been good. What I wanted to do someday is to get the music first and then write the movie to go with the music.
“You know, because as a musician it’s very frustrating… There’s this good friend of mine, Michael Kamen, who has done so many films just since I’ve known him, and the frustrating thing is they make them, they spend all these millions of dollars making movies and edit it together, and then they present this rough edit to the musician, and they want the music yesterday!
“And by that time there’s no budget left anyway. So, they’ve got a couple of dollars for them to do it. Then you do it, and then they edit it, and the music doesn’t fit, and then you have to redo it… There’s already so much good music, in some ways you don’t have to write new music.”
George said the only option was to take music already made. “That’s what I would like to do: put that together and then say, ‘This piece of music is so brilliant. What would be happening if this was on the screen?’”
George had an excellent vision. It’s just unfortunate we never got to see it.