I was approached by some first time producers who asked for my help in making a film about Prince. My first question was “do you have rights to his music and is the estate on board?”
After all, how do you make a documentary about Picasso without showing his paintings? He assured me that he had arranged a deal for the rights. I believed him based on his associations within the music industry and the individuals (very close to Prince) that he had partnered with. Of course I got excited because access to Prince’s library would be ground-breaking for an independent film. So I did my thing, got a distribution deal and raised all the money. Unfortunately, I was misled and they never really had any rights nor would the bank and their consultant in charge of Prince’s estate license the music to us at “any” cost.
I grew up listening to Prince, but I wasn’t a super fan. Sure, I liked his music but I didn’t connect to his uniqueness like so many others did. But when I first started my research for this film, I discovered something unexpected: there was such an intense connection between Prince and his fans. It wasn’t like an Elvis or Michael Jackson kind of attraction, it was different, much, much deeper. The connection was profound. His sincere messaging of love and unity for all, black, white, gay, straight, old, young, had been life-changing and affirming for so many individuals. And if you’re a fan of his, you know what I’m talking about.
Some said that Prince gave them personal strength, guidance and a sense of self-worth. Others said he had literally saved their lives! WHAT! Now I was really curious as to who this guy really was … and the deeper I explored, the more I realized I was discovering something that did not compare with any fandom I had understood before.
Sure his fans knew everything about him, his incomparable talent, the many instruments he mastered, the brilliant music he produced and they could recite every lyric he wrote. But the stories kept coming and from all ages, and even from the many famous “name” artists themselves who shared that he was their deep life and musical inspiration.
I felt compelled to make a film that defined this perspective. What and who were his inspirations? What drove and nurtured Prince to become this musical genius superstar? And by way of his extraordinary influence, who in turn did he inspire in becoming the best they could be?
In fact, after 3 years that I’ve spent deep within Prince’s world, I am a profoundly changed person. Not like a cult follower, but in strange way, Prince became a mentor. I always questioned, “how would Prince want me to handle a certain situation relative to his story”. The answers were clearly my perspectives but I can tell you that this influence subconsciously changed me in the way that I now look at my friends, family and life differently. I’m now a much better person for having been on this wild journey.
This film is a celebration that I want to share with his “fams” around the world and to those that never really knew this true musical genius of our time… Prince.
Mr. Nelson On The North Side