Celebrity Interview - Director Kevin Macdonald, Executive Producer Pat Houston talk on Whitney

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Whitney, the candid documentary on the life of superstar Whitney Houston, recently had its media day with Director Kevin Macdonald and Executive Producer Pat Houston in attendance fielding questions on the film, the memories and the revelations.

Having the opportunity to participate along with the room of global media, the questions and comments ranged from personal reflections of encounter's with the star, the shocking revelations of sexual violence, to the demise and the life.

As it has been just over six years since Whitney's untimely death, creating a documentary that included all the residual tragedies seemed to add fuel to the flames of the gossip and rumor mills, how was it decided that now was the right time?

"The documentary idea had always been in the works, Ms. Pat Houston, Whitney Executive Producer and Sister-in-Law of the late singer, explained. "Whitney herself," she continued, "back in 1999 began, started to do a documentary, started to form it, so I knew that she wanted to do a documentary so that was the reason for the continuation and it was just doing it with the right people."


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Director Kevin Macdonald, added, "I met with Pat in January 2016. Just after Sundance. And we met here in LA and that was the first conversation we had had. There had been many conversation prior to that with producers. I think Lisa [Erspamer, Whitney producer] was one who suggested speaking to me about it."

As much as the documentary celebrates Whitney's life and career, it doesn't sugarcoat her demise either. As her slow decline became a tabloid horror show, with photos of squalor and drug paraphernalia, emaciated, skeletal thin, and her voice, off key, cracking under the pressure of use and drug use.

JW: Who made the decisions as far as the demise elements to include? The mention of a sexual assault as a child, or some mention of that, and the mentions of drug use and everything that was gathered. Who made those decisions on those issues?

KM: I have to take blame for that. I made the decisions. Ultimately it was my decision in cooperation with Pat and the producers. The person in question [the predator] passed away ten years ago so perhaps that should have been made in clear in the film. 


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JW: Was the experience of making the film different than you thought it would be and if so, how?

PH: The experience was different because of Gary and Michael, I would say, in my opinion. I felt very good that they were speaking up. They had to shield their sister for three decades to the world and their mother. And had to share her for a very long time with other folk. And have had to protect the image of an icon for many, many, many years. And she's no longer here and the family's has had to deal with that since her passing. And for them to be told to open up, just speak about themselves, to speak their truth, as it relates to her. It was good for them.

Like Kevin has been saying in some of these interviews, letting steam off is very therapeutic for them. Like taking a lid off the pressure cooker in these interviews. So for us, it's a good time, a good feeling. Although revelations were made, you know, it's okay. Like I always say, it's nothing in comparison to her not being here.

KM: I think it's worth saying from my point of view and the whole productions point of view, It was a very healthy production. Sometimes difficult and sometimes challenging in getting ahold of people, getting the footage, and getting what we needed. And there was another aim. The feeling between the estate and the production has very much been one of collaboration.

From my specific point of view I started off making this, really for the purpose of trying to make a honest film about Whitney, with access to those who really knew her, so that a timeless, seamless film, hopefully one that would not so much lead to prying and gossip about her, and then after we can turn to her the music and say that's what's left. Stop the conspiracy theories and gossip and turn to what is going to survive of her and that's the music.

Other Whitney projects were talked about as Bobby Brown, Whitney's husband of fourteen years is also making a documentary and some type of book project by her former childhood friend and personal assistant Robyn Crawford.

As there remains so much extra footage, and other areas which could have been fuller, Ms. Houston joked about a four part Netflix series, which seemed for career of a global superstar, singer, actress, friend, sister, daughter, that spanned three decades a natural fit.

Whitney opens in theaters everywhere July 6, 2018. See it.

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