1.The world premiere of No Distance Left To Run took place at the
Odeon West End, in Londons Leicester Square on Thursday, January
14, 2010. So to begin with, how was this for you and have you been pleased
with the feedback from the band, their management, the record label,
fans, music and film critics etc?
Dylan: The premiere was a great night! It was quite a strange
experience to watch the film with an audience for the first time, but
everyone laughed in the right places and it seemed to go down as we
hoped it would. Were really pleased with the bands feedback
as well, so I think weve been very pleased with how its
2.In your minds, did you know exactly what you wanted to achieve
with the documentary, or did this evolve as filming progressed?
Dylan: A bit of both really. We knew from the start that we wanted
the film to kind of focus on friendship, as much as it did the career
of Blur and all of the things that you expect from a music documentary.
But, obviously going into it, we didnt know how successful it
was going to be, or whether theyd still get on and things like
that. So, it could have gone either way.
Will: We were hoping for a lot of access to the band and we got
that, which was great, and they were quite happy to let us film within
reason. Obviously, there were a few points where they wanted us out
of the way, but overall, we got a lot of good access. Not all of it
necessarily makes it into the final cut of the film unfortunately, but
yeah, in the end, we got what we were hoping to get really.
3.What were your first impressions of meeting Damon, Graham, Alex and
Dylan: Well, theyre all incredibly different. I mean our
first experience of meeting them, was having to walk into the rehearsal
studios and kind of almost having to pitch them what we wanted to do.
Wed taken our ideas to the management and record label, and then
the band agreed to see us, but it was really strange walking into a
room where the 4 of them were sat, because we had to very awkwardly
explain our ideas to them. At first, they werent particularly
Damon he wasnt completely sold on the idea of being in
another documentary, having been filmed for the Gorillaz one for so
long. So, we were unsure whether they would go for it or not. They seemed
to get quite nostalgic in that initial meeting, but I think it was probably
about 2 weeks before we had to start filming, that we heard it was on.
So, it was quite an intense period of getting ready to do it, and then
we were straight into the rehearsals, which lasted about 5 weeks before
the gigs started properly.
4.Did the group become more relaxed with you being in their inner
circle as the weeks went by, and were you surprised by their openness
and honesty in front of the camera?
Dylan: I think they were open to being honest from the outset,
because theyd been quite public about getting back together (pausing),
you know, there were obviously issues between them, but I think the
whole process was quite an honest one them getting back together
in the first place. They were doing it to kind of return to being friends
and to do what they came together for in the first place. So I think
the whole summer was in that spirit. We were really pleased that the
interviews went the way they did, because obviously, Damons been
known for being a bit cagey in the past (laughing), so we were very
pleased that they were so open and honest.
5.Do you have a favourite Blur era + had you ever seen them playing
live prior to embarking on this project?
Dylan: Id say the self-titled Blur album from 1997, is probably
Will: Yeah, I think I would probably agree with that, but I like
13 as well. But also, even though its not their best album, Ive
got quite a soft spot for Leisure. When we were kids, we were into Blur
back then too.
Dylan: I saw them in Hull in 1994.
Will: And I saw them playing in Cambridge, but Im not sure
what year that would have been. It was when I was at school, so that
sort of era, definitely.
6.How did you put your crew together and how would you say your professional
backgrounds / skills helped shape this project?
Dylan: It was a relatively small crew and for the majority of
the time, it was just Will and myself Will on sound and me on
camera. And then there was a Director Of Photography, who we work with
on music videos called Ross McLennan. Anytime it was a bigger event
or something that needed more than just the 2 of us, Ross would come
in and there was also another DOP who came in. So when you see the slo-mo
live performances, that includes their input as well. We had other people
with us at times who made sure everything was ok, but then we edited
it as well (laughing), so it really was a labour of love!
Will: As Dylan said, we did have a small crew at times, but the
vast majority of it was just the 2 of us, because we wanted to keep
it so there wasnt a massive film crew around the band. I think
we would have got way less access and probably wouldnt have got
the stuff wed got, if wed had a big crew. I just dont
think it would have worked.
7.Was No Distance Left To Run shot on film or digitally, and what was
the timeframe from the day filming first began right through to its
Dylan: It was shot on a mixture of formats we shot digitally
in HD on an EX3, and that was for the main part of the shoot. We shot
Cameras, we shot a little bit of 16mm and we shot a few shots on a Canon
EOS 5D, which is a stills camera that gives you HD as well. So, it was
real mixture of formats. The cinematic stuff was shot on the RED Cameras
all the kind of stuff where we went around the country and filmed
Walthamstow Dog Track etc., which was also influenced by Martin Parrs
photography. In terms of a timeframe, we started at the beginning of
June June 1st was the first day of shooting and we finished
on the second day of Hyde Park, which was July 3rd I think. That was
the main period of shooting, then we shot pick-ups for about a week
in August. Some of the interviews were shot during the course of the
main period of
filming, but we also shot some more in August.
8.How many hours of footage did you accumulate / how did you go about
sifting through all of this (along with archival material), to be able
to finally edit it together coherently and create a narrative?
Dylan: (laughing) Its difficult to know how much footage
we accumulated, but we filmed every gig with more than 1 camera and
we filmed all day at the rehearsals everyday! So there was hundreds
and hundreds hours of footage to choose from, and then we had access
to a lot of good archive footage over 20 years worth! So that
was kind of a mammoth task in itself, just trying to find the bits that
would fit the story really.
9.Interestingly, I read that you always knew that you wanted
the end to be really beautiful and slo-mo, a little bit like Butch Cassidy
And The Sundance Kid, and originally wanted the band to walk out on
stage at Hyde Park at the end, and just stop it there. But was
it easy or difficult getting the film to 98 minutes, and will any unused
footage ever surface elsewhere in the future?
Dylan: I think the first cut was about 3-and-a-half hours long
(laughing), but we were always very keen that it didnt become
bloated. You know, some music films are really fan-focused and theres
a sort of quantity over quality kind of thing. Theres like a history
of where they recorded stuff and how they got a guitar sound etc. and
we knew that we didnt want this to be that type of film. We wanted
it to have quite a tight narrative, even though it was spanning a 20-year-career,
with lots of nuances in the story. We always wanted to bring it in at
around the 90 minute mark, and that was incredibly difficult, because
youre having to let things go that you really love.
Will: Hopefully, some of the unused footage will surface in the
future. I mean we had a load of great scenes that were shot throughout
the rehearsals period, and during the gigs as well, but hardly any of
that actually makes it into the film.
Dylan: Its not on the initial DVD release, because theyve
got 1 Disc for the film and 1 Disc for the Hyde Park gigs, but maybe
in the future, although I dont know, because its sort of
out of our hands whether that appears. Wed love it to and a Website
would be a good idea we could stick some of it on there
or maybe even release another edition of the DVD at a later date. But,
thats not confirmation (laughing).
10.Do you have any interesting anecdotes from your time on the road
/ something that was particularly special for you and of all
the comeback gigs, which one was the most memorable?
Will: Something that was particularly special for us (thinking)?
Thats a good question (laughing)! Well, Dylan was on the bus with
the band after Glastonbury which doesn't make it into the film
that was a pretty special moment I think, being with the band
having just come off stage after playing the biggest gig theyd
ever played! Yeah, I think that was pretty cool really.
Dylan: Also, early in rehearsals, they were discussing songs and
Damon was like, Oh God, I suppose were going to have to
rehearse Country House at some point? They were sort of able to
have a laugh about that and then when they burst into it, it was one
of my favourite performances during rehearsals. Because all of them
were really going for it and that was the moment I think, where you
could see that it was going to be an amazing summer! In terms of the
comeback gigs, some of the smaller ones like Goldsmiths and the Rough
Trade show, had a lot of energy about them and they were fun to film
Will: I think as well, before Glastonbury obviously the
gig was amazing but I think the atmosphere throughout the whole
weekend at Glastonbury was great! Hopefully, weve captured some
of that in the documentary, because it was a really nice thing to film.
11.For you personally, how was it being able to observe the group
at such a significant time in both their career and personal lives +
do you think the summer shows were the bands swan song, or when
the time is right, can you see Damon, Graham, Alex and Dave recording
another album together and touring again?
Dylan: I think from a filmmaking perspective, we were really lucky
to be there to capture that
Will: Yeah, definitely!
Dylan: Because nobody knows if anything will happen again
nobody has said that it wont but at this stage, its
difficult to know, because theyve all got their own things; the
new Gorillaz album and so on and so on. So to have been able to capture
that summer, I think is really good, because its going to be a
document of the band for some time to come.
12.What are some of your favourite moments in the documentary, and
what do you feel Blurs legacy will be?
Dylan: A lot of people seemed to have picked up on Graham and
said that they really enjoyed watching him, and we both kind of warmed
to him as well, because hes definitely very funny in his interviews.
I think a lot of those moments we like.
Dylan: I think Blur will be remembered as a band that werent
afraid to change you know? I think the most remarkable thing about them,
is that right at the height of their fame in 1996, they were prepared
to do something that they knew would alienate a lot of fans, but for
them, it was more about the experience of doing something new and moving
forward. And that I think, is something which Damon continues to pursue
in all of his other musical ventures. Unfortunately, I think Blur will
forever be associated with The 90s and Britpop, but I hope that
people will see there is a little more to them than that.
13.Having now had time to reflect on everything that you achieved
and experienced, how would you sum up the entire project?
Dylan: Thats a difficult question (laughing)!
Will: Hard work! It was a pretty tight schedule from when we got
the go-ahead to make the film, to the point of filming them and then
editing it, so yeah, it was pretty full-on really.
Dylan: I mean, most people making a feature-length documentary,
get longer than 6 months. So I think it was a great achievement to actually
get to the point of having a finished film in that time, and one that
seems to have been received quite well. So, hard work, but quite a sense
of achievement at the end of it!
14.Whats next for you both?
Dylan: When we came out of this film, we had some music videos
lined-up, so were working on a music video at the moment, but
were trying to get some more long-form projects together, because
we want to do another documentary as soon as possible really. Ideally,
well be moving onto a different kind of story, because music documentaries
are great, but I think doing another one straight away, there arent
that many different stories to tell really.
15.Lastly, chips or cream buns?
Will: Well, I dont eat anything with sugar in, so chips
Dylan: Ill go with cream buns and have some of Wills
A very special thanks to Dylan + Will, to Verity,
Lucas, Hannah + Jamie @ Pulse Films, and to Kate @ Arts Alliance Media,
for all of their time and help.
Lets get the band back together one more time
- Damon Albarn