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Velvet Underground’s Legacy Will Be Celebrated With ‘Intensely Visual’ Documentary

The Velvet Underground
Polydor Records

A new documentary on the Velvet Underground is in the works, half a century after the release of their debut album. The film will be directed by Todd Haynes, whose earlier work includes 2015’s Carol, 2007’s I’m Not There and 1998’s Velvet Goldmine.

Look for “an intensely visual experience” which will “rely certainly on [Andy] Warhol films, but also a rich culture of experimental film,” Haynes tells Variety. He calls the latter “a vernacular we have lost and we don’t have, [and that] we increasingly get further removed from.”

Haynes admits that this project, his first-ever documentary, will be “challenging.” He says relatively little was saved along the way – and, of course, two of the group’s members have died. Still, Haynes said he hopes to include interviews with surviving bandmates, as well as from others in the ’60s art scene.

The director teamed up with his producing partner Christine Vachon of Killer Films and Universal Music Group’s David Blackman for this as-yet-untitled documentary.

Haynes’ interest in the Velvet Underground comes from the paradox of their fame. While Velvet Underground and Nico only sold 30,000 copies, the band were hugely influential among both their contemporaries and the musicians who followed, including the late superstar David Bowie.

The Velvet Underground emerged from “a truly experimental cross-section of film, contemporary art, and a rejection of mainstream consumer culture at a very rich and fertile time of the ’60s in New York City,” Haynes said. “Their influence has nothing to do with sales or visibility or the ways we portion ideas of success.”

Velvet Underground co-founder Lou Reed succumbed to liver disease in 2013; their guitarist Sterling Morrison died in 1995.

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