PETER JACKSON ON THE MAKING OF THE FINAL BEATLES VIDEO

The video for The Beatles’ new song, “Now and Then,” will premiere Friday (11/3) at 10am ET on YouTube. It’s Peter Jackson’s first foray into music-video production.

Jackson, who directed Get Back, the docuseries on the making of Let It Be, said he was reluctant to accept the offer to make the video, saying he needed time to figure out a reason to reject it.

I told Apple [Corps] how the lack of suitable footage worried me,” Jackson said. “We’d need to use a lot of rare and unseen film, but there’s very little. Nothing at all seemed to exist showing Paul, George and Ringo working on ‘Now and Then’ in 1995. There’s not much footage of John in the mid-'70s, when he wrote the demo. I grizzled about the lack of unseen Beatles footage from the ’60s. And they didn’t even shoot any footage showing Paul and Ringo working on the song last year.”

But Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr did not wait for Jackson to say no. They shot footage of themselves performing the new song, and Apple Corps unearthed more than 14 hours of long-forgotten film shot during the 1995 recording sessions, including several hours of McCartney, George Harrison and Starr working on “Now and Then.Sean Ono Lennon and Olivia Harrison also sent over some unseen home-movie footage.

“To cap things off,” Jackson noted, “a few precious seconds of The Beatles performing in their leather suits, the earliest known film of The Beatles and never seen before, was kindly supplied by [original drummer] Pete Best.

“Watching this footage completely changed the situation—I could see how a music video could be made. Actually, I found it far easier if I thought of it as making a short movie, so that’s what I did; my lack of confidence with music videos didn’t matter anymore if I wasn’t making one. Even so, I still had no solid vision for what this short film should be—so I turned to the song for guidance.”

He listened to an early mix Giles Martin had sent him. “As I kept listening," the filmmaker recalled, "it felt like the song was creating ideas and images that started forming in my head—without any conscious effort from me.”

Jackson teamed up with Get Back editor Jabez Olssen and they finished the first 30 or 40 seconds of the film fairly quickly. They then jumped to the ending with the goal of summing up the enormity of The Beatles’ legacy. “This proved to be impossible,” Jackson said.

Jackson did have one idea that he presented to Dhani Harrison, who happened to be visiting New Zealand. The idea brought tears to the eyes of George’s son, so Jackson went with it.

They found a collection of unseen outtakes in the vault, in which The Beatles were relaxed, funny and candid. “These become the spine of our middle section, and we wove the humor into some footage shot in 2023,” Jackson said. “The result is pretty nutty and provided the video with much-needed balance between the sad and the funny. To be honest, while we hope we’ve given The Beatles a suitable final farewell, that’s something you’ll need to decide for yourselves when it’s finally released—only a few days from now.”

Before the song premieres on Thursday and the video on Friday, a 12-minute short film, Now and Then—The Last Beatles Song, will premiere Wednesday (11/1).

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