Locking down rights to a legendary artist’s songs for a film is no easy feat — just ask the makers of that André 3000-starring Jimi Hendrix biopic. But director Ryan White just pulled off a major coup: he’s gotten permission to use four Beatles songs in his upcoming documentary about the Fab Four’s longtime secretary, Freda Kelly.
According to the Hollywood Reporter, the film, titled Good Ol’ Freda, will feature “Love Me Do,” “I Saw Her Standing There,” and two other as-yet-unspecified Beatles tunes. Good Ol’ Freda focuses on the story of Kelly, who worked with the pop icons for 11 years and managed the band’s legendary fan club. The doc, which will premiere at this year’s South By Southwest Film Festival on March 9, marks the first time that Kelly, now in her late 60s, has shared her experiences with the Beatles.
White, who previously co-directed the 2010 pickup soccer documentary Pelada, told THR that Kelly is opening up “for her 2-year-old grandson — she sees it as a sort of home movie.” He added, “She’s not tempted by money at all… Freda closed the Beatles’ offices, so she left with truckloads of Beatles stuff and gave it all away to fans over the years.”
White didn’t reveal how much he paid for the songs, but they probably didn’t run cheap: AMC’s Mad Men had to pony up $250,000 just so Don Draper could turn off “Tomorrow Never Knows” last season. Clearance for the songs required signatures from several parties, including the respective estates of the late John Lennon and George Harrison, as well as surviving Beatles Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. “Clearly the living Beatles have a lot of respect for [Kelly],” he said.