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Director Gavin Fitzgerald Discusses New Liam Gallagher Documentary with IFTN
06 Jun 2019 : Nathan Griffin
Releases in cinemas on June 7th.
IFTN caught up with Irish director Gavin Fitzgerald to find out more about directing the new Liam Gallagher documentary ‘Liam: As It Was’, the art of dealing with eccentric personalities and how the Gallagher sibling rivalry influenced the structure of the documentary.

‘Liam: As It Was’ will make its cinematic premiere on Thursday, June 6th and will feature an exclusive live performance, which will be broadcast via satellite into cinemas across the UK & Ireland from London’s Alexandra Palace Theatre.

The documentary chronicles the musical comeback of Liam Gallagher, an honest and emotional story of how one of the most iconic frontmen went from the dizzying heights of his champagne supernova years in Oasis, to finding himself ostracised and on the periphery of the rock ‘n’ roll world. Starting again alone, stripped bare and with nowhere to hide, Liam risks everything to make an unlikely comeback, battling against the odds to return to the top of the charts.

The film is directed by Fitzgerald and Charlie Lightening, Steven Lappin produces with Joel Kennedy and Julian Bird featuring as executive producers. The film is edited by Nick Webb.  For Fitzgerald, the film comes off the back of his hugely successful sports documentary ‘Conor McGregor: Notorious’ (2017), which saw him intimately film the UFC fighter’s meteoric rise over 4 years.

IFTN journalist Nathan Griffin spoke with Fitzgerald to find out more about the project.

Firstly, can you give me a bit of insight into how you got involved in the project?

“It was completely out of the blue. I got a phone call from Warner Music telling me that they had a documentary on Liam Gallagher in production. Within a week or so I had a meeting with Liam set up - so of course I brought the customary Irish offering of Barry’s tea and Tayto crisps. I gave my thoughts and where the documentary was at and what it could be and took steer of the ship right away.”

Having travelled such a long journey when bringing ‘Conor McGregor: Notorious’ to the screen. It must have been humbling seeing the film make an impression on Liam?

“I guess one of the advantages of making films about celebrities is that a lot of people see them however working with such big talent comes with many challenges. I’m fearful of who this film might connect with next…”

Both documentaries centre on larger than life individuals. What did you learn from your time making the Notorious documentary that you could bring to this project?

“I think you have to choose your battles when you’re in that celebrity world. You can’t dictate the terms but you can persist at certain themes or ways of doing things and make the talent buy into it. Communication is very important and you can’t get too close either.”

When we last spoke, we discussed how unique it was for a director to follow the rise of a star from his beginnings. As a director, how did your approach differ when stepping into a project where your subject is already such an iconic figure?

“I guess it was a little harder not to get starstruck at first especially because I was an Oasis fan growing up but the more time you spend with anyone, the more human they become. The Liam that you see giving the finger to the camera, smoking a cigarette with a beer in hand is not the full picture. That’s part of him, a fire in his belly but most of the time it’s very subdued. I’m always interested in the part of the character that the cameras don’t show.“

Liam Gallagher and Oasis have been very well documented over the years. How does this documentary stand out from the rest?

“This is Liam’s story after Oasis split up. Noel is always that elephant in the room but it’s a very different film to Supersonic for example which deals with their rise to fame. This film is about Liam failing for the first time in his life and then making an unprecedented comeback with his solo career.”

The relationship between Noel & Liam Gallagher is infamously bitter. How did you find stepping into that world?

“I only got Liam’s side of the story but what’s shocking is that they haven’t seen each other in ten years after Oasis split up over a row in Paris. Noel said he wouldn’t work with Liam a day longer and he really meant it. It doesn’t take much prodding to bring Noel into conversation but Liam’s emotions range from anger to sadness within moments. I think at heart of it all he misses him and would get Oasis back together in a heartbeat but Noel would never do it.”

Can you give me a bit of insight into how their relationship inhibited or enhanced the making of this documentary?

“It was very tricky. We could only use third party material of Noel as he refused his image rights. We couldn’t use Oasis music, even the tracks that Liam wrote. All I heard from Noel was his lawyers say you can’t do this and that. It was hard work for our editor Nick Webb who had to change music in the film more than once. The sad thing is that there’s an archive of tapes in Ignition records that are rusting away because it’s so difficult to access. Oasis is a piece of cultural history yet all the memorabilia is in a lockup essentially.”

Your next project, ‘The Million Dollar Pigeon Race’ has recently received development funding from Screen Ireland. What can you tell us about it?

“I’m very excited about this one as I’ll have a lot more artistic freedom working with the celebrities of the sky. It’s about high stakes pigeon racing and the eclectic bunch of characters that compete in what is known as the Olympics of the sport. Chinese billionaires, Middle Eastern Sheiks, syndicate teams from Ireland and people from the townships of Johannesburg all competing in the same pool. Expect tears, laughter and lots of feathers. “

Altitude Distribution releases ‘Liam: As It Was’ in cinemas across Ireland & the UK from Friday, June 7th.

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