Maybe director Baillie Walsh could get a job as a diplomat. After all, his resume’ includes the Oasis documentary “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down,” where he managed to keep the often feuding Gallagher brothers fairly civil. He was also good enough to employ Daniel Craig in between Bond gigs, featuring him in “Flashbacks of a Fool,” his first fictional feature that he both wrote and directed. He has directed videos for such bands as Massive Attack and INXS. This week see’s the premiere of his new documentary, “Springsteen and I,” a look at the love affair between the Boss and his fans. How diplomatic is he? I was so engrossed in the last minute plans of my wife’s surprise 50th Birthday Party that when he called me for this interview (one I had set up a week before) I was totally unprepared. Undaunted, he agreed to call me a few days later, when he was on “his” time. Diplomatic and incredibly nice.
Mike Smith: What inspired you to do this project?
Baillie Walsh: I wish I could say it was my idea but actually I was asked by RSA Films (Ridley Scott’s Production Company) to do it. I was very excited about the concept of it and I thought it was a perfect idea for Bruce Springsteen and his fans. Actually I couldn’t resist it.
MS: When you approached Bruce was he keen to the idea as well?
BW: Absolutely. I mean we obviously needed Bruce’s approval to get the film made because I knew we would need archive footage and Bruce’s music to make the film possible. So I went to Bruce and Jon Landau (Springsteen’s longtime producer) and had a meeting with them. And it was very quick. They immediately realized that the idea was perfect for Bruce and they gave us permission to do it. And they gave us access to the archives and access to his music. They gave us the complete freedom to make the film we wanted to make. There was no editorial control. So it was an incredible experience for me. I feel very lucky to have been able to do it.
MS: A lot of your earlier work was in music videos, including INXS and the Oasis documentary “Lord Don’t Slow Me Down.” Do you think that experience made you the right person for this project in Springsteen’s mind?
BW: Yes. I’m sure the facts that I had both a music background and a documentary background were part of the reason I was asked to do it.
MS: You gave Daniel Craig his best role between Bond gigs when he starred in your first fictional feature, “Flashbacks of a Fool.” Do you plan to continue on the documentary side or do you want to concentrate more on fictional features?
BW: I love being able to really mix it up. Obviously I have to say that making a feature film that you’ve written is one of the great, extraordinary experiences in life. To be given the opportunity…and the finances…to be able to do that. I would love to be able to do that again. But I also really, really enjoy making documentaries. I really do. And this one was done in such a modern and interesting way…I really loved the approach and the idea. What excited me about it most was that I had never seen this film before…I didn’t know what the film could be. And to go into a project with fear, because you have no idea how it’s going to be, that is the most exciting way to work.
MS: What are you planning now?
BW: You know what I’m going to do now? I’m going to go on holiday! I’m going fishing, Michael.
MS: Don’t go to far.