“I really hope you guys know what you’re doing. Take your time, get it right. Bill’s message deserves something really special. Please don’t screw this up.” (Fan email, one of hundreds…)
No pressure then. Telling the iconic life story of the most critically revered comedian of his generation was always going to be a long journey into the unknown.
The principal characters in Bill’s life had never all spoken at one time before, and never at such length. A diverse group of individuals, but with one thing in common – Bill’s personality, humanity and humour shone from every one of them…
From Portland, Oregon, where Bill’s first comedy partner Dwight Slade acted out their earliest teenage routines, to Kevin Booth, Bill’s lifelong friend and producer, standing at the edge of the Texas ranch pond recalling his and Bill’s mushroom-inspired UFO experience. To Austin where David Johndrow, Bill’s spiritual ally, showed us hundreds of unseen personal photos of Bill taken over 15 years, then tracking down the Houston comics, who told their hilarious stories of Bill’s formative comedic years, and then of the descent into drink and drugs which almost killed him…to the family home in Little Rock, Arkansas where Bill’s mother Mary served her toasted pound cake as siblings Steve and Lynn discussed the impact of Bill’s more extreme routines on his Southern Baptist family. And finally to LA, to unearth the original 8 track master tapes of Bill’s last performances – which became his legendary posthumous final albums, that continue to sell more each year.
Bill’s story is truly unique, and so crafting the complex, interwoven layers of his life’s journey through animation seemed the best way to truly immerse an audience in the magic and passion of the man that draws people to him still.
Matt Harlock & Paul Thomas