Brian Eno Documentary in the Works from ‘Helvetica’ Director Gary Hustwit
L-R: Brian Eno, Gary Hustwit (Courtesy of Shamil Tanna / Ebru Yildiz)
Gary Hustwit has started production on “Eno,” a career-spanning documentary about musician and artist Brian Eno.
The non-fiction film boasts access to hundreds of hours of never-before-seen footage, unreleased music from Eno’s archive, and visual art. It’s the first authorized documentary about the music legend.
The producers say that “Eno” will be released in multiple versions and will employ “groundbreaking generative technology” in its creation and exhibition. Though the specifics haven’t been revealed, insiders say that the finished film can take on myriad different forms depending on the platform or manner in which it is being viewed. It is similar to the way that Eno uses technology to compose music.
“He is the perfect subject to use this sort of approach,” says Hustwit. “He’s turned down many previous projects because he didn’t want to do a conventional bio-doc.”
Hustwit knows of what he speaks. The director’s collaboration with Eno first began in 2017, when the musician created an original score for Hustwit’s “Rams,” a documentary about the German designer Dieter Rams.
“Eno” is being produced by Brooklyn-based production company Film First, with worldwide sales handled by Submarine. The project is expected to be released in 2023.
Hustwit is also intimately familiar with the music world, having served as producer on such films as “I Am Trying to Break Your Heart: A Film About Wilco” (director Sam Jones), and the Mavis Staples’ doc, “Mavis!” (director Jessica Edwards). As a director, Hustwit has been exploring the creative processes of designers, artists, and architects since his 2007 debut “Helvetica” and in his subsequent design documentaries, “Objectified” and “Urbanized.”
For the past 50 years, Eno has been on the bleeding edge of technology and artistic innovation. The hugely influential British musician, producer, activist, visual artist and self-described “sonic landscaper” began his career as an original member of the legendary Roxy Music in the early 1970s. He left the band to release a series of solo records and later pioneered the genre of ambient music with his 1978 album “Ambient 1: Music for Airports.” As a producer, Eno has helped define and reinvent the sound of some of the most important artists in music, including David Bowie, U2, Talking Heads, Coldplay, and many others. He also composed what may be the most heard piece of music in the world: the startup sound for Microsoft Windows.
The software that the film uses is proprietary and was developed by Hustwit and digital artist Brendan Dawes to provide unique viewing experiences via multiple digital formats, cinema screenings and site-specific installations.
Hustwit aims to offer a deep dive into subjects that Eno has been notably passionate about, such as sustainability, social equity, and the future of civilization, while centering above all on the nature of creativity.
“I think of ‘Eno’ as an art film about creativity, with the output of Brian’s 50-year career as its raw material,” says Hustwit.
Variety's Brett Lang contributed to this post.