Directed by Mary Wharton (Joan Baez: How Sweet the Sound, Sam Cooke: Legend), the film received a one-night-only screening in select cinemas on October 20, the late Gainesville, Florida-born singer/songwriter’s birthday, and will be available on YouTube Originals next month.
Tom Petty, Somewhere You Feel Free: The Making of Wildflowers features previously-unseen 16mm footage from Petty’s Los Angeles studio sessions with producer Rick Rubin, as well as new interviews from friends and peers, including insights from Rubin and former Heartbreakers Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench, who both played on the album despite it being a solo record for Petty.
The blurb accompanying the trailer reads: “The doc is not only a study in song craft and the unique recording process it is known for, but digs deeper into what was going on for Tom personally with the dissolution of important relationships in The Heartbreakers and the ending of his long time marriage to his childhood sweetheart [Jane Benyo]. It is an uplifting and cathartic ride.”
Speaking with the womenandhollywood website in March, Wharton described her film as “a portrait of an artist at a crossroads” and “an intimate and emotional view of Tom Petty as he has never been seen before.”
“I’ve been a fan of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers since I first saw the You Got Lucky music video on MTV in 1981,” she added. “When I was first starting my career at VH1 in the early 1990s I was lucky to work on a documentary about Tom Petty when he was releasing Wildflowers, which, for me, was on-the-job training on how music docs are made. It was a powerful full-circle moment for me to look back at this part of Tom’s story now. When Tom’s daughter Adria approached me about the project, I leaped at the opportunity.”
A nine-disc version of Wildflowers was released last year.