Todd Haynes Directing Velvet Underground Doc

The Velvet Underground, Nico, Andy Warhol, Paul Morrisey and Gerard Melanga photographed circa 1966.
Courtesy Everett Collection

The Velvet Underground, Nico, Andy Warhol, Paul Morrisey and Gerard Melanga photographed circa 1966.

Todd Haynes (Far From Heaven, Carol), is taking on the story of pioneering rock art punks The Velvet Underground. The acclaimed director who plumbed the depths of the early 1970s gender-bending British glam rock scene in his 1998 classic Velvet Goldmine is once again working with longtime producing partner Christine Vachon of Killer Films and Universal Music Group's David Blackman on his first documentary. 

According to Variety, Haynes broke the news at the Locarno Film Festival on Monday (Aug. 7), where he is to receive the career achievement award the Pardo d'onore Manor. The untitled VU project -- which comes 50 years after the release of the band's seminal art rock masterpiece Velvet Underground & Nico -- will “rely certainly on [Andy] Warhol films but also a rich culture of experimental film, a vernacular we have lost and we don’t have, [and that] we increasingly get further removed from,” Haynes said.

Because there is little documentation on the group, Haynes said researching them will be "challenging," but a deep-dive he's looking forward to by "getting in deep to the resources and material and stock and archival footage and the actual cinema and experimental work.”

The director also reportedly plans to include interviews with the surviving members of the band -- drummer Mo Tucker and viola player/composer John Cale - and others contemporaries from the heady 1960s New York art world. 

As with his other experimentally minded films, Haynes is unlikely to take on a straight narrative arc with the story of the band that was associated with Pop Art icon Andy Warhol, featured punk rock legend Lou Reed and is considered one of the most influential American rock bands of all time. The subject seems ripe for Haynes, who said the band was birthed out of a "truly experimental cross-section of film, contemporary art, and a rejection of mainstream consumer culture at a very rich and fertile time of the 1960s in New York City."

Haynes' 2007 Bob Dylan biopic, I'm Not There, could provide a blueprint for the offbeat direction the director might take the VU film, as it told the bard's story using six different actors, both male and female, to lay out the folk icon's knotty, sometimes confounding career path. “Form to me is everything. It’s the first question about how to approach a story and why you are telling it and what kind of traditions you are evoking,” said Haynes, who promised an "intensely visual" experience. 


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