Pictured: Filmmaker Dick Carruthers. Photo Credit: Dick Carruthers.

I always think of it like an exhibition, and that’s why when you look at the app and the DVD, we’ve done all of the menus and the way you navigate it like a photography exhibition. To me, Julian makes all of this stuff and kind of wants to hang it on a wall or have it playing in the background, and if you care to go in and have a look and have a listen, you might discover that you really like it. But he doesn’t want to shove it down your throat or in your face, he just wants you to be intrigued or interested by it and like it. So, it’s a very gentle sort of way of putting it out there.

GALO: The public scrutiny that you were just talking about, I’m assuming it obviously has to be related to being John Lennon’s son and that rocky relationship, and people always comparing the two. And that’s a subject that comes up a lot in your documentary, mostly from Julian’s friends and collaborators, who are the ones who shed light on it and how that burden affects him and his music. Was Julian open to talking about that part of his life with you? He’s said before that it’s always in the back of his mind that that’s what people are really after.

DC: I think there he’s talking about when he does media and press stuff that people see interviewing him as an opportunity to get some kind of scoop or information about his dad, which is both unimaginative and quite vulgar. But it does happen — I’ve actually seen and heard it happen. I think he’s really referring to that. But you’re right, people speak up on his behalf because there’s a lot of loyalty around him and there’s a lot of appreciation around him. I think people see a need to defend him in a way because they read the sort of crass criticism of it.

Julian likes to rise above it a bit more, so I think that’s why there’s probably less of him answering his critics in that way. But when I asked all the other interviewees, as you correctly identified, they’re very matter-of-fact about it — and I think it needed to be said. It also needed to be said in that context because I think it’s more persuasive that way. I certainly never had seen anybody offer any of those things any more than Julian would, and God forbid because the credibility and integrity of the documentary flies out the window at that point. In order for that to have that integrity is just to ask people what they think.

The response was quite unanimous, actually. This is how he sounds when he sings and it’s great. Why shouldn’t he sound like that, my God! Isn’t that right? And if anybody has a problem with it because they think he’s trying to sound like his dad, that’s just very crass and an unimaginative sort of reaction to it — that true credentials should be to his dad — just means you’re a bit of a fool, really. Again, that point needed to be gotten across not directly from Julian but from people who’ve thought about it, who’ve been around him and understand that. It’s something that we touch upon at various points. I think he addresses it in his music, really. I think if you listen to the song “Beautiful” in that section of the documentary that’s where I think he’s really talking about how he feels about his dad.

GALO: Also, the imagery you were talking about earlier that you included in the film, you said you had an image of wanting to show in slow motion the creative process, like with the photograph and things related to what Julian does and what’s important to him. How did you go about tracking down all of that footage and selecting which ones you wanted to include? Did you want the film to have a certain feel to it or flow in a particular way?

DC: Well, we actually shot all of that. It was quite late in the process, as the editing progressed and as I shot more and did more interviews, you piece it together and so it starts to take shape. I would always write things on the wall. So we had this vast, sprawling map of text on the wall of all the different subjects — about inspiration, about his voice, about musicology, instrumentation, his dad, and obviously, his input — all of these things, and why it had taken so long and all of the key players. So, there’s this big spaghetti map on the wall of how it all comes together. And as it was beginning to take more of its final shape, I attached certain subjects to certain songs.

So “Invisible” was the song which went with the discussion of photography; “Beautiful” was the discussion of his dad; and “Lookin’ 4 Luv” was a discussion of his inspiration in songwriting. So it takes this structural shape, and I wanted this sort of running glue, these links to link it all together. I think I just called him and said at one point, “look, why don’t we do this thing where we shoot all of these instruments in slow motion to give it all of these sorts of chapter marks?” And he said, “I like the sound of this” [laughs]. And I said, “Well, it’s not cheap, you know. You’re shooting in those slow-mo cameras; it’s a big old thing.” He said, “No, let’s do it.”

And I love those bits — those guitar strings that vibrate in super slow motion and those flash bulbs going off. It all fits in with the sort of implied imagery of what’s been talked about. I think it makes you absorb more the voices and what they’re talking about. This imagery sort of implies it and hints at it, and it’s very meticulously constructed in the sense that I think if you watch it a second and a third time, you’ll get more out of it. We’ll use a shot of a certain thing that’s coming up and then they’ll start talking about it, and then we’ll come back to that same ground, or that bit of beach, or there’ll be an airplane. All of the imagery that is there is slightly dream-like based around what’s being spoken about, and the same with the instruments and with the developing. It’s all very deliberate, and should be a very visually and orally pleasing experience.

GALO: So did your approach to Through the Picture Window differ from other documentaries you’ve made of concerts, like your ones of Oasis or The Killers?

DC: Absolutely. In as far as the post-production process, no. There’s a sort of goal and a timeline and a budget, to answer your question sort of logistically. There’s a production methodology with which you approach all jobs. The concert tends to be a sort of one or two day shoot of massive intensity that you can spend weeks or months leading up to, and then it’s all done in a couple of days and you just sort of disappear into post-production for a couple of weeks, or even a couple of months.

With this documentary, it was quite episodic. Julian kind of disappeared to L.A. — but I’m glad he did because he wrote “Someday” in between. I was working on a Led Zeppelin project we were sort of flat out on and it all just got put on ice for six months, and was suddenly back on again. I was busy doing other things and Julian was off traveling and taking more photographs and writing more songs. It actually worked out exceedingly well for the film, I think, that it happened that way. If we had just said, “Right, there’s a 10 week post-production period at the end of which that’s it,” it certainly wouldn’t have become the project that it’s become.

GALO: As you mentioned before, Julian came out with his app that includes Through the Picture Window. Was that a decision you both discussed when he was creating the app, or were you pleasantly surprised that your film was gaining more exposure in this way?

DC: Well, the app started as an idea of thinking how else could it be presented. And the great thing about an app, as I hardly need tell you, is we live in a world driven by apps. It’s where the most exciting, creative and technological breakthroughs are all coming from. So the idea of making the film about Julian and Julian’s music (both the acoustic album and the main album) and artwork, and extras and everything, all wrapped up in an interactive, fun app that’s fun to have on your phone or your tablet and watch and listen to — and that thing where you shake it to get between the acoustic and the main album — I just love that. It was an idea that came out of a brainstorm.

When you do that on a DVD, you can do it with an audio button. So with the phone, with the way phones work, you can shake it and do that. So once the idea was planted, it just grew and grew. The other great thing about the app is that it can be updated. The app is getting fantastic reviews, I’m delighted to say. So now, we’re moving swiftly forward, before everybody copies us, to do Through the Picture Window 2.0 to make some more content and other ways that it can work. Like if you turn it upside down, you can unlock some secret content and stuff like that — so that’s in the pipeline. And ultimately, because it can update, it can be a portal. So it is Julian’s app. I mean, at this point, it’s built around the documentary and the album and the features, but as he takes more photos, as he does more stuff, whatever he gets up to, it can be channeled through the app and updated to his fans and to anybody — we’ll have plenty to look at and listen to.

GALO: Well that sounds great. Good idea on your parts.

DC: Well, I don’t know if I can lay claim to the idea. I mean, I’m a team player. It may have been Julian’s idea, it may have been mine. There’s a guy called Andy that put it all together, but between us — because we were all involved in it from the get-go — you discuss constantly different ideas of everything. We can do this with this song, or we can shoot that, like shooting the slow-mo stuff with the instruments was Ed’s idea, and I added to it. Again, it’s a team effort. You can make an app and get a lollipop for coming up with the idea, but it’s where you run with the idea — it’s just like, let’s make this the best fan experience. If you’re a fan, what are you going to love, what are you going to get a kick out of, what’s going to really work for you? And that to me, that’s the fun part of creating these things.

Video Courtesy of Julian Lennon.

Featured image: Filmmaker Dick Carruthers. Photo Credit: Dick Carruthers.