Old Film Offers a Fresh Look at Lennon

The following article appeared in the March 4, 2007 issue of Maine Sunday Telegram and was written by Noel K. Gallagher.

After decades of sitting on shelves, a two-hour documentary about the daily life of John Lennon, shot over three days just weeks before the Beatles broke up in 1970, will makes its world primiere in Maine this week.
The film, "3 Days in the Life," is the work of a handful of John Lennon fans determined to bring an obscure bit of Beatles history to light.
"We're really all collectors," said the film's executive producer, Ray Thomas, a former musician who went in with two other fans to buy the raw footage in 2000 from Yoko Ono's first husband, Tony Cox, for an undisclosed amount "in the millions.'
"We just wanted to obtain this incredible piece of history," Thomas said. "We've been sitting on it for so long, we decided to just do something."
The film will debut Tuesday at Berwick Academy in South Berwick, where Thomas' stepson attended school.
Problem is, the film owners who incorporated as Boston-based World Wide Video LLC to buy the footage, can't make any money off the film because they don't have permission from Ono and Lennon's estate. Hence the "educational" aspect of the film, which Thomas said will be shown free of charge at high schools and universities around the world.
Any costs and fees associated with the events must be paid by the schools. In some cases, the film will air live at one school while being simulcast via online streaming video to other educational institutions.
Thomas would not say at what other schools the film may air.
"(Ono) doesn't want us to do anything with (the footage)," Thomas said. "She never remembered making the movie."
The premiere is creating a modest buzz on Beatles fan Web sites, such as "Blog Me Do" and "I read the news today: All Beatles News." The sites included items about the upcoming premiere, and urged viewers to send back reports.
"There has been longtime news of this film in the works. Bootleg collecting Lennon fans have been chomping at the bit to see some of this long rumored work," BeatleBoyMatt wrong onhis blog, "I read the news today." "The footage in this film is one of a kind and would be a true treat to see."
Thomas said the group has had a steady stream of offers to buy the raw footage, including more than one offer for at least $40 million.
"We're all working class stiffs and we'd like the money, but that would be selling out what we're doing," Thomas said, nothing that the entire footage contains controversial material - specifically of Lennon buying and using drugs and saying disparaging things about the people around him - that they did not include in the film.
"We left that one out of respect for John and his family. We're not going to do that," said Thomas, who said that aside from this film, his most prized Lennon item is the piano on which Lennon reputedly composed "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds."
The most moment of the film, Thomas says, is when Lennon is doing a sound check for the "Top of the Pops" show where he performed his number one hit, "Instant Karma" - a moment where Lennon is clearly breaking out of the Beatles mold even before the band broke up.
"There he is, out there singing, and it's like he's beating everybody to the punch," Thomas said.
Other highlights show Lennon sitting on the edge of his bed with Ono sleeping in the background while he works out the song "Mind Games" on his guitar; being interviewed by Ono's daughter in the back of a limousine; and just strolling his estate and joking around on camera.
"We're trying to show all sides of him, that's what he intended," Thomas said. Although as a solo artist Lennon appeared to live a more open life, at that stage in his career - still with the Beatles - all four band members were extremely private, Thomas said, refusing to allow access to their recording sessions and spending holidays with their families and one another.
Lennon allowed the filming, Thomas said, in gratitude for all the help Cox had lent to him and Ono.
"He said, 'Let's do this movie, no holds barred, and people can see that I'm just a regular guy,'" Thomas said. "This was sort of a gift to Tony (Cox.)"

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