In the wake of the success of the funding of “Good Ol’ Freda” through Kickstarter.com, there’s a second movie about the Beatles now in the middle of a campaign on the website to raise money.
The movie, called “The Beatles at Their Best,” is a documentary about Pete Best’s stint with the Beatles. The Kickstarter campaign hopes to raise $5,000 by 4:24 p.m. EST Jan. 20.
The man behind the film is Shaun Phillips, who says on Kickstarter the documentary “will be an entertaining and informative re-examination of the facts behind the making of the most popular musical group in history. It will be the true story you’ve never heard, about the band you thought you knew everything about,” using photos, video clips and interviews, some rare.:
The idea for the film came about because of another film he was working on about the Beatles and Michael Jackson. “In July 2009, a week after the death of Michael Jackson, I began working on ‘Unbelievable!’, a feature-length interactive documentary examining the influence The Beatles had on Jackson’s career. My goal was to create a web index that would tell the history in chronological order. The idea was viewers could watch the story as a documentary movie and at anytime click on it to open a hyperlink leading to the source material,” he told us in an interview.
“I did a lot of Googling. Google doesn’t infringe on copyrights showing others work because they maintain they are an index, simply organizing information, providing small snippets and copies so that users can then follow links that will direct you to the true copyright holder. I was hoping to create the same thing, but on a much smaller scale for this very specific subject. I was hoping to make an entertaining Michael Jackson / Beatles index that can also be viewed like a movie.”
His research on the Beatles early history led him to discover the story of Pete Best. “I learned a great deal more about Pete Best, the Best family and their involvement with the group. I put a lot of what I learned into the index movie I was creating. By the summer of 2010, I had trimmed it down from 8 hours to 2 ½ hours. But after watching it became more and more obvious that the whole Pete Best chapter of Beatles history didn’t really shed much light on the influence of group on Michael Jackson. So, I decided to cut out this whole section of ‘Unbelievable!’ and turn it into a separate short, ‘The Beatles at their Best’.”
Is the Best family cooperating with the film? “They were never asked for their cooperation, nor were the other members of the Beatles or their estates. I did speak to Pete Best and his brother Roag in the summer of 2010 at a convention in New Jersey. I told them both about ‘Unbelievable!.’ At that point, I had been researching for a year and had already learned a great deal about Pete and the Best family’s involvement with the Beatles. I hadn’t yet made the decision to do ‘The Best of the Beatles,’ but I had developed a new respect for Pete and the significant role he and his family played in the Beatles rise to become an entertainment phenomenon. I was excited to meet him.”
He first met both at a Beatles convention and had a conversation with Roag. “When discussing (the Beatles) Anthology, Roag mentioned that his father Neil Aspinall had told him that outside of doing the interviews, the only real request Ringo Starr had for the project was to fade Pete out of the famous 1960 Astrid Kirchherr fairground photo and to then have himself photoshopped in. I was surprised to hear that. ”
Phillips says there are a lot of misconceptions about Best. “He wasn’t sociable, he was a bad drummer, he was unreliable, ect… Most people either don’t know or can’t handle the truth about Pete Best. The average Beatle fan only knows Ringo. The ones that do know about Pete, the ‘real’ Beatles fans, don’t really know the truth either. Most of them never saw the Beatles with Pete Best. Their understanding of the group, like mine, was formed by reading or hearing comments from people connected to The Beatles in articles or documentaries like ‘Beatles Anthology’ and ‘Imagine: The John Lennon Story.’ Films like these are made with the Beatles and their estates having the final say over the points of view to be expressed. That means the same people who sacked Pete are the people who get to shape everyone else’s opinions of him.”
He argues their rise to fame was due in part to Best. “Most people don’t know that Lennon, McCartney and Harrison spent considerable time at the Best house for a year before they asked Pete to join the group. They don’t know the Beatles were a bum band, unwanted by most everyone in Liverpool before Pete joined,” he says. “They don’t know that when Best joined the Beatles, he was the only one who wanted the job.
“They don’t know that Pete was a reliable band mate who also helped to manage the groups’ business affairs. … They don’t know he was friends with Ringo Starr,” he says.
And, he says, “They don’t know he was the most popular one in the group!”
And if the film happens, what do you hope to accomplish? “To see a beer summit with Pete Best, Paul McCartney & Ringo Starr. Why not? It would be a cool thing, right?”
Also,” he says, “to encourage fans of the Beatles, fans of music history and fans of the truth to take a fresh look at this story. It’s a half century later and the true beginnings of the Beatles, the most incredible entertainment success story in the history of the world has never been properly told.”
Phillips plans to use the money raised on Kickstarter to complete the film and promote it. To donate, go to www.kickstarter.com.