Join Harry Marks for an in-depth discussion in this video , part of Creative Inspirations: Harry Marks, Broadcast Designer.
Harry Marks: Joe Cocker was an A&M artist and he had come over to do a tour with his little Grease Band. Something happened when he got here and he just kind of broke down and he said, "I can't do it," and he couldn't do it. Somebody called Leon Russell, because Leon had this strange following. He had this strange family living around him in his house and all around. He came over evidently to the A&M Studios, which was the old Chaplin Stage, and he came over with his entire family of people, with kids, and animals, and stoves-- I mean it was like a Renaissance Fair. They started jamming with Joe.
Jerry Moss called us from A&M, the M of A&M, and said you better get over here because there is something going on in the studio that you should be shooting. You should shoot this. I want to see what is going on. It was amazing. I mean it was just amazing. So when we sat down and looked at the dailies with A&M of this mayhem, it was just-- but the music was fantastic. Jerry said, I think we got a movie here.
Let's make a movie. When we started making 'Mad Dogs', we really didn't have much of a plan other than we're were going to follow his concert tour. When we started putting the film together, we had shot so much peripheral footage that was kind of showing how tough a tour it really was for a group this size. I was getting worried that the film was kind of bogging down a little bit. It was getting talkie and philosophical and whatever.
One Sunday, I went into the edit room by myself and just started taking scraps out; scraps I knew that they weren't going to use. I did kind of one of my ABC things. I did a very kind of fast cut, high energy thing to music, and this is it. I did it because I thought it would kind of lighten the film up a bit. (Music playing.) (Male singing: People talking and trying to...) Now, we shot this in 16 because we didn't intend to start shooting this as a feature, so we continued in 16; that's all the equipment we had. In order to-- now it was going to be a feature and it was going to be issued in 70 millimeter, I was really worried about blowing it up. So what I did is a lot of split screen. I mean a good percentage of the movie was split screen. Typically like this, but this was just a fun piece of snippets from the tour.
I think it livened it up. It was a great piece of music. (Music playing.) This little music video thing turned into a feature film and certainly is maybe the strangest off-road in my entire life because I was still kind of-- I wouldn't say preppy but I was a very regular kind of person and suddenly I was thrown in with this amazing circus, and it was a circus.
So we did this tour, Joe Cocker 'Mad Dogs & Englishmen' and we made this movie, and it took a year out of our lives. It was very emotional, but in looking back, it was one of the great experiences of my life. It was really terrific. I met some wonderful people on that shoot, and that was my strange year in rock and roll.