SXSW Film: 5 questions with “Good Ol’ Freda” Director Ryan White
One of our “must see” films this year is Good Ol’ Freda from director Ryan White. We caught up with him via email and gave him our best five questions we wanted answered.
We were surprised by the answers and they made us want to see the from that much more!
So here we go…
In the press kit, you mention a “shared family history” that was part of the reason Freda agreed to the film, can you elaborate on that?
My uncle is Billy Kinsley, the founding member of the Merseybeats, so I grew up going back and forth going to Liverpool my whole life. My aunt and uncle are in a group of friends who come from the 1960′s Liverpool music scene, and Freda was one of those people. I’ve known her for quite some time, just from family weddings or Christmases. But I never knew that Freda was the Beatles’ secretary, she’s very private about it. It wasn’t until a few years ago when Freda’s friend and producer Kathy McCabe approached me about making this movie that I found out about the role Freda played. She’s been offered many times to tell her story over the last 50 years by outsiders, but I think doing it with a team she knew beforehand was important to her. She wanted it told faithfully to who she is, and I think we did that in the end.
How long did the production run?
We’ve been making the movie for two years now.
What, if any, difficulties did you face?
In the movie, Freda’s daughter says, “My mom is the most private person I have ever known in my life.” It’s what makes Freda who she is and why she was so amazing at her job with The Beatles. But making a documentary is also probably the most un-private thing to participate in; it’s invasive and involves putting your life out there for people to see. So I’d say the biggest difficulty was finding that balance — making a documentary about the most private person in the world, but still getting Freda to let us in enough so the audience would get to know her. Freda was a champion for sticking it out throughout the process, because it wasn’t always easy and it was definitely outside of her comfort zone.
What message do you hope audiences take away from the film?
I want people to see the story of a remarkable woman who did a remarkable job for the most famous band in the world, but never sought any credit for her role and never sold out the “four lads” throughout her entire life. It’s a real character study of ethics and what loyalty means.
Any special plans for SXSW?
Freda will be in town! We talked her into coming to the U.S. for the premiere. I think she’s a little blown away by the attention the film has gotten in the lead-up, so it will be fun to get to experience it alongside her.