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3 YEARS

Cameron Crowe's PBS Pearl Jam Documentary Was Like 'Group Therapy' for the Band

"If you rip the scab off a little bit and make people a little uncomfortable, you’re going to get something unique," says Crowe.

Cameron Crowe
Paramount Pictures
Cameron Crowe on set of "Elizabethtown"

BEVERLY HILLS -- Filmmaker Cameron Crowe tapped into his roots as a reporter for his PBS American Masters documentary Pearl Jam Twenty.

“They chafed at stuff a little bit along the way,” said Crowe, appearing at PBS’ portion of the Television Critics Association press tour.

“I want to ask the stuff that a fan given a front row seat would ask, but be tough when I need to be tough,” he said.

Pearl Jam lead singer Eddie Vedder does not make an appearance in the documentary until 10 minutes in. And his origins with the band – which was started by Mother Love Bone members Stone Gossard and Jeff Ament who invited Vedder to audition for their grung rock band in Seattle – is explored. The band, said Crowe may have started with Gossard but as the film makes clear -- painfully at times -- it quickly became Vedder’s band. And that is laid bare in the film.

“We showed [the film] to them in October and you could more than hear a pin drop,” laughed Crowe. “It was like all the oxygen disappeared from the room.”

Finally, said Crowe, one of the band members’ wives jumped out of her seat and screamed: “It’s f---ing great! I wouldn’t touch a frame!”

After that, the band and Crowe retired to their manager’s house and had a long decompressing discussion about the film. “It’s was like group therapy,” said Crowe.

“It get’s under their skin a little bit. But if everything was perfect it would be like an EPK [electronic press kit]. If you rip the scab off a little bit and make people a little uncomfortable, you’re going to get something unique.”