Jakob Dy­lan brought his mid-'60s L.A.-mu­sic­scene doc­u­men­tary, Echo in the Canyon, to Hawai‘i for its re­gional premiere last fall. Echo in the Canyon, pro­duced and di­rected by Jakob Dy­lan and An­drew Slater, fo­cuses on the mu­sic be­ing cre­ated in Lau­rel Canyon in the '60s. We know the iconic songs by the leg­endary artists, and in the film, their sto­ries and the sto­ries be­hind the sto­ries are en­gag­ingly cap­tured and re­vealed by an in­ter­viewer who is no stranger to the up­per pan­theon of the mu­sic in­dus­try. Dy­lan and Slater pre­miered the film in Hawai‘i dur­ing Hawaii In­ter­na­tional Film Fes­ti­val, and sat down with Ka­hala Life to talk about the film's in­cep­tion.

How did the idea come about to make a film about this era?

We started by mak­ing a record first—a cover al­bum. When we were get­ting with all the peo­ple be­hind the songs, we re­al­ized there was so much more to be done than just a cov­ers record, and it [took off from there].

Who did you fo­cus on in the film?

We thought it would be in­ter­est­ing to hear these peo­ple talk specif­i­cally about the peo­ple who were there, in Lau­rel Canyon, in the mid-'60s. Be­yond just be­ing fans, they were the ones who were there. We've all talked about the era and the mu­sic as fans, and we've all as­sumed a lot of things, but it was re­ally an op­por­tu­nity to talk these peo­ple. If they could re­mem­ber what was go­ing on, they would know; some of them ... I don't think they could re­mem­ber too much! Ev­ery­one in the movie [Tom Petty, Brian Wil­son, David Crosby, etc.] were peo­ple who were crit­i­cal to be in­volved in the telling of the sto­ries.

This is your first foray into film mak­ing, and the movie has a very nat­u­ral, con­ver­sa­tional cadence to it, which can be hard to cap­ture in taped in­ter­views. How did you achieve that?

The in­ter­views were all very ca­sual, and I knew ev­ery­body. It wasn't a sit­u­a­tion where they were set up with a big pitch—it was me con­tact­ing them, some are friends, peo­ple I know, and it was very or­ganic. I just asked them if they wanted to come down and share a few sto­ries. What also made it ca­sual is that I'm not a jour­nal­ist. Artists spend so much of their time speak­ing to jour­nal­ists, and they'll have a nat­u­ral edge when they're do­ing that be­cause they get to choose how to present them­selves. Be­cause I wasn't that, we were able to have the same kind of di­a­logue and con­ver­sa­tions that we had in the stu­dio, ex­cept with the cam­eras on. It was a sit­u­a­tion that some­one like I could do, and with my mu­sic back­ground, it put them in their own camp.

You've men­tioned that it was rather in­tim­i­dat­ing, in­ter­view­ing artists. Who did you start with?

I started with Eric Clap­ton. Might as well just dive right in, right? It is daunt­ing con­tact­ing peo­ple.

Was there a big ad­just­ment from mak­ing mu­sic to mak­ing a movie?

I don't think so. And that's prob­a­bly be­cause I've been in front of a cam­era, plenty of times. And this is a con­ver­sa­tion with peo­ple; a doc­u­men­tary, and the story un­folds as one goes along. You start out with an idea, then depend­ing on what gets shared, sud­denly it goes off in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion and one has to go back­wards and fill in a lit­tle.

Were you able to talk to ev­ery­one you wanted to in­ter­view?

Yes, for the most part—ev­ery­one came for­ward pretty quickly say­ing yes. Well, there was one [who wanted to be in­ter­viewed,] Tom Petty. I did know Tom, and I took the record to his house and played it for him. He heard the record and some­one told him about the doc­u­men­tary, and he called and asked, “Why haven't you asked me to be in the movie?”

What were you hop­ing to con­vey to view­ers?

It was a mag­i­cal time, and it is so im­por­tant to cap­ture these sto­ries—they hap­pened long be­fore the mod­ern world where ev­ery­body knows ev­ery­thing. If these peo­ple don't tell them, and don't share the sto­ries, they'll just slip away. And I wanted to con­vey how all these songs build upon each other, how the songs mor­phed from one song into an­other.

Have you been in Hawai‘i be­fore?

I have, but not to O‘ahu, this is my first time here … I've been to Maui. I've been there a bunch of times, but I'd like to come back to Honolulu, I'm plan­ning to come back with my fam­ily. And, I'm look­ing for a quiet, tran­quil beach …

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