Director Kevin Macdonald joins Phil de Semlyen to discuss his new documentary Whitney. The film chronicles the unforgettable life + career of beloved singer Whitney Houston, revealing a couple of previously-unknown secrets along the way. Find a preview of some of the most intriguing moments below.
1. Making it just a little bit too long
Director Kevin Macdonald, who is also known for the nearly 150-minute documentary Marley, defends Whitney's similarly lengthy runtime as a testament to the unique opportunity the film presented.
This is the only time this is gonna happen. Nobody else is gonna be able to do this. So, who cares if it's a half hour too long?
Whitney is the first documentary about Whitney Houston to be officially authorized by the Houston estate.
2. Trying to create a complete image of someone...who nobody really knew
Even people who wanted to know her never understood her.
Many family, friends + acquaintances never made it past the wall that Houston put up, preventing a lot of emotional intimacy. Consequently, this documentary became a study of just how unknowable she really was.
3. Deciding to include the shocking new information revealed late in the film
Macdonald includes dramatic revelations from Houston's brother + aunt in the latter portion of the film. When questioned, he says that he felt a moral obligation to do so as a documentarian trying to tell the whole story.
I felt that was the right thing to do: to give the victim priority over the perpetrator.
4. Struggling with reluctant interviewees
You always feel like, "oh, people are stopping me. What is beyond there? Why are people not talking honestly?"
When discussing Houston's struggles + her private life, Macdonald says he was often met with reticence in interviews. In fact, about half of the interview material he obtained never made it into the film because they contained very little informative substance, comprised mostly of statements that Macdonald describes as "banal," despite his best efforts to get to the crux of the issue.