Director to Director

Taylor Hackford shares his insights.

I’ve gone Hollywood…literally. On what I assume is a typically sunny Cali morning, I drove my rental car into the Hollywood Hills to meet and interview movie director Taylor Hackford (“Officer and a Gentleman”, “Delores Claiborne”, “The Devil’s Advocate”).

We did the interview on his shaded patio, with the occasional plane or helicopter flying overhead. I brought two pages of notes, but all I really needed to do was turn on the camera. Hackford talked for minutes at a time, addressing every major point and question that I had written down.Here’s one of the things Hackford had to say about Johnnie Johnson and the pleasure Hackford received because he directed the film which caused the world to rediscover Johnnie. “All of a sudden that film said ‘this is Johnnie Johnson’. This is somebody who was a co-creater of that sound. Whether he was the co-creator of the records or not can be controversial. Probably he had a definite hand in it. But regardless, the creation of the sound, there’s no doubt about the fact that most famous sound that influenced every rock and roll musician, Johnnie Johnson had a hand in.”Taylor Hackford’s love for music is obvious; a look at his film projects indicates that. “Chuck Berry: Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll”, “La Bamba”, “Ray”, and “The Idolmaker” were all Hackford projects about music and musicians. He also told me about his musical background, playing the piano, and the kind of music his mother played when he was growing up. He made some insightful comments about the role black music played in breaking down racial barriers. “When that becomes your music of choice, it’s very, very hard for anybody else to tell you those people are inferior because they’re creating the music that you gravitate towards.”There were many cool moments. While setting up, I explained to Taylor that he shared the same first name as my daughter and he asked how I happened to name her. Taylor is my mother’s maiden name and Hackford said Taylor is also a family name for him. When we were done, he asked where he could get one of my documentary t-shirts and you can bet I’ll be mailing him several. I did present him with a couple of framed photographs from the Fox Theater, where an entire wall features the “Hail! Hail! Rock ‘N’ Roll” logo and the signatures of all the people who took part in the project.Another great day, all because of Johnnie Johnson. In less than a week, Bob Weir of the Grateful Dead was at my house and I spoke to one of Hollywood’s top directors. Big thanks to Taylor and his assistant Brian Netto, a budding filmmaker who’s learning from one of the masters. Art HollidayDirector, JOHNNIE BE GOOD

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