Frank Marshall talks Laurel Canyon

Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipients Frank Marshall accepts the award at the 2018 Governors Awards in The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, November 18, 2018. (Michael Yada/©A.M.P.A.S.)

Frank Marshall recently spoke with Solzy at the Movies over the phone about Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time and provided updates on Jurassic World and Indiana Jones.

Frank Marshall
Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award recipient Frank Marshall attends the Academy’s 2018 Annual Governors Awards in The Ray Dolby Ballroom at Hollywood & Highland Center in Hollywood, CA, on Sunday, November 18, 2018. (Troy Harvey/©A.M.P.A.S.)

How did you first become attached to Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time?

Frank Marshall: Well, this is an idea that Michael Wright, who runs Epix, and I came up with about four or five years ago when Michael was running Amblin. That’s where it first started and we’ve been developing it together since then.

What do you feel is so special about the music that originated in Laurel Canyon?

Frank Marshall: It’s still relevant. People love this music. It was a period of time where the creativity and I think the location and the environments, and the opportunity back then all came together to create this mixture that I don’t think we’re gonna see before or after. It was unique.

Do you have a favorite band from that area of LA?

Frank Marshall: Well, I’d say as a band, Crosby, Stills, Nash, and Young are my favorite from that period and of course, Joni Mitchell on her own.

Is there an album that you could listen to indefinitely on a loop?

Frank Marshall: The first Crosby, Stills, and Nash album that we talked about in the show of one where they’re sitting on the porch.

While the film will be airing soon on Epix, how disappointing was it to not have the red carpet premiere at SXSW with the festival being cancelled?

Frank Marshall: Oh, that was extremely disappointing because we wanted to celebrate and that’s such a great music festival and film festival together to celebrate all the great music and all the great artists and the gifts that they gave us. We were pretty disappointed but it is what it is so we’re gonna make the best of it.

At what point heading into that Friday afternoon press conference were you starting to have doubts about whether or not to attend?

Frank Marshall: I would say in early March is when I started thinking. I’m over 70 so I’m in that age group that you’ve got to be careful. I started thinking, Well, I’ll let everybody else do this. I’d say early March.

(L to R) Owen (CHRIS PRATT), Franklin (JUSTICE SMITH), Claire (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) and Zia (DANIELLA PINEDA) try and save Blue in "Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom."
(L to R) Owen (CHRIS PRATT), Franklin (JUSTICE SMITH), Claire (BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD) and Zia (DANIELLA PINEDA) try and save Blue in “Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom.”

You’re producing or executive producing a number of documentaries these days. However, you’re also producing a few narrative features. Where do things currently stand on Jurassic World: Dominion and the upcoming Indiana Jones feature?

Frank Marshall: On Jurassic World: Dominion, we are on hiatus. We shot for three weeks at the end of February and beginning of March. We are on hiatus in London. Our sets are all built and waiting for us to come back as soon as it’s safe and the guidelines are there for us to continue. Indiana Jones—we are in the story and developing a screenplay.

How much filming was left on Jurassic World: Dominion when things shut down?

Frank Marshall: About 12 weeks and we have a long way to go.

What needs to happen for Hollywood to go back into production? When do you see things coming back?

Frank Marshall: I wish I knew. We have to operate obviously with everybody being safe but we need guidelines from the experts. We have a lot of protocol in place and in ideas and thoughts of how to move forward but it’s definitely going to. I’d say that those 12 weeks is going to turn into 15 or 16 weeks. It’s definitely gonna be slower when we’re back in business.

I know one of the images I keep seeing going around is from ET when they’re all in those hazmat suits.

Frank Marshall: Yeah. We were on to something then!

Do you think we’ll see more films bypassing theaters and going straight to Digital or a streaming service?

Frank Marshall: Well, it’s gonna be an interesting time if people can’t go to the movie theaters, yeah. As a filmmaker, I want people to see my movie so but I think it will balance itself out once they open up again but we’ll probably see more movies going to streaming than before, I would think.

Are you watching anything for comfort or are you mostly focused on the work aspect of things at the moment?

Are you watching anything for comfort? Or are you mostly focused on work the work aspect on things?

Frank Marshall: We’ve been watching several series, of course, just like everybody else watching The Last Dance. I’m also directing a virtual magic show for the Geffen that I have to do every night at 8 PM so I’m working on Zoom.

Is that more challenging than working on set?

Frank Marshall: Oh, absolutely. It’s a new medium. We created the show and embrace the medium but it’s a lot more difficult than actually being able to be there. It’s just a lot easier. I’d like to have a real audience but they’re all little windows on my computer screen. I’d rather be there at the Geffen with 150 strangers enjoying the show. Hopefully, that’ll happen again soon.

I remember we met last year doing the junket for The Gift and just meeting someone that worked on so many of my favorite films growing up as a child was one of my highlights of the 2019 SXSW Film Festival.

Frank Marshall: Oh, thank you. Thank you. Now that you mention it, it’s just because it’s such a festival—it’s a film festival but it’s so dedicated to music. People that are there appreciate and love music so much and that’s why I really wanted—I was thrilled when we got the invitation and I was very disappointed when we weren’t able to celebrate together this great period of time in music.

When I got the screeners, there were two episodes, and when I looked at the runtime on the SXSW website, I thought it was just gonna be one 90 minute film. I felt this documentary series did a better job telling the story than Echo in the Canyon.

Frank Marshall: Well, I think it’s a different kind of movie. That was from one person’s point of view where this one, we went and got all the people that were there to talk about it. It’s just a different approach and we had all the music, which I think makes a great. When you hear those songs and when you see those performances, you go, Wow. I mean, I’m blessed to have been a part of this and having been able to be there

What other things do you have in the works?

Frank Marshall: Over the last three years, I’ve been directing a documentary about the Bee Gees, which is now finished and hopefully will be out next spring.

Are you looking at launching at a film festival?

Frank Marshall: I hope so. Again, it’s this kind of limbo period that we’re all in. We don’t have a distributor here yet. We’re going to start showing it soon but it’s all new, now. I had a great time making that one, too. It’s an extraordinary story. I think that people are going to be pretty surprised when they hear the story because most people just remember the Bee Gees from Saturday Night Fever but they’ve done so much more, which makes it a very rich and textured story.

And then there are some of us that know them from the sketch spoof on SNL.

Frank Marshall: (Laughs) There you go.

Did I see where you have something coming up on the Olympic Channel?

Frank Marshall: Yes. This is our second season. We sort of have our own 30 for 30 documentary series going there called Five Rings Films. We get five filmmakers to tell five stories about the Olympics and hopefully, their own personal stories that have something to do with the story from the five different continents that the rings represent. We’re in our second season and we’re just about to release one on Rulon Gardner, the wrestler who beat an undefeated Russian for the Gold medal in Sydney in 2000.

Laurel Canyon: A Place in Time will premiere Sunday, May 31st at 9 PM ET/PT and conclude the following Sunday, June 7th at 9 PM ET/PT.

Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.