Father John Misty Covers Cat Stevens for Proposed Hal Ashby Documentary (Video)

6:34 PM PST 06/09/2014 by Roy Trakin
AP Images

The story of the filmmaker, "Once I Was," has raised $50,000 from Indiegogo to begin production.

The late Hal Ashby directed such beloved films as Coming Home, Being There, Shampoo and, most notably, the cult classic Harold and Maude. A film editor turned auteur, Ashby passed away Dec. 27, 1988, from pancreatic cancer at his home in Malibu. His movies earned seven Academy Awards and 24 nominations. The proposed documentary is called Once I Was: The Hal Ashby Story.

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First-time director Amy Scott has been editing social issue documentaries for over 15 years -- just like Ashby, as she points out -- honing her interview skills while working for Studs Terkel, archiving his radio interviews in Chicago. So far, through indiegogo.com, she has raised more than the $50,000 she needs to begin production.

“Hal Ashby’s strident rebelliousness in the face of the Hollywood studio system set the course for an unapologetically original body of work,” she says of the director, who was a major player in the '70s Hollywood film renaissance, “its moral ambivalence, and political rage, its stylistic audacity and deeply human voice.”

The movie is Scott’s way of redeeming Ashby’s reputation, which suffered greatly behind a string of disappointing films in the '80s.

“This was a man who gave everything to film, sacrificed his personal relationships, his health and sometimes his sanity in his devotion to the craft of directing,” says Scott, who will use the budget to interview such Ashby pals as Rudy Wurlitzer, Robert Downey Sr. and Jerome Hellman. The Ashby estate, which has authorized the bio, has contributed archival footage, audio recordings and photographs.

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Supervising the music on the film is Thomas Golubic, a Grammy-nominated producer and DJ who worked on the AMC series Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead and The Killing, as well as the HBO series Six Feet Under.

Father John Misty already has contributed a cover of Cat Stevens’ “Trouble,” a song that originally debuted on the soundtrack to Harold and Maude, and premiered today on the Aquarium Drunkard website.

Recent Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Stevens wrote "Trouble" while recuperating in King Edward VII's Hospital from a collapsed lung and tuberculosis, presumably about to die. Ashby used the lament when Maude is on her own deathbed, with a tearful Harold watching over her. 

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