Much ink has been spilled on tortuous, unexpurgated critiques of Neil Young. This I know from my research, so here's mine: Neil Young I love you. There, got it out of the way.
An uncompromising musician, Neil Young has a reputation for being fiercely private. He rarely gives interviews and seldom looks back at his amazing career - and never on film. So how did this happen?
It's September 2007 and I am celebrating my forthcoming birthday in Oxford with my family. The phone rings, it's my boss Mark Cooper: can I get on a flight to America as soon as possible? The words Neil Young and possible interview are mentioned...
Arrangements are hastily broken and remade as I high-tail it back to London breathless with anticipation - a surreal feeling heightened by the fact the encounter will happen on my birthday - 9/11, in New York City. Drinks with friends will have to wait - this is Neil. I decide to wear my best Neil-esque check for luck.
We found Neil in excellent form in New York. He spoke with candour and humour about many intriguing aspects of his musical life on camera. It was a world first - no, it was bigger than that - a television first. Now the dream of making a film about Neil Young was no longer a fantasy - but we'd need more.
The months went by and other programmes were made, but in June 2008 just outside San Francisco we finally got more. Again I wore some plaid. And once more Neil was in fine form, this time appearing with an entourage, an impeccable labradoodle named Carl, or perhaps Karl - we never did talk politics. Suffice to say, the combination of poodle and labrador makes for the ultimate rocker's dawg.
One of the funniest things about making this film were the doom merchants who popped up regularly during our research, like the fortune tellers that litter epic Greek tales. Neil will never talk about this or that, this will all end in tears, it will never happen.
But it did- with the help of a great production team, Warner Records UK and not least Neil's very helpful organisation in California.
This film is in no way an exhaustive account of his work - we would neither hope or want to achieve that - but I hope it gives the viewer something truly unique; a sense of what Neil is like as a person, what makes him tick, what he values and how he looks at his work.
It was a dream project to work on, I am truly lucky to have made this. In my head I could have just kept on going - I would have liked to film him in his element and seen Neil the family man, the humanitarian, the ecologist, the film maker, the Regular Guy, the rancher... but hey Scorsese didn't even get to meet Dylan!