Elvis Presley: The Searcher, a documentary providing a closer look at the musician’s life beyond rock & roll, made its debut at South by Southwest.
The three-hour, two film presentation features archived photos and footage from private collections. Priscilla Presley, the executive producer, joined producer and Memphis music writer David Porter and director Thom Zimny for a panel discussion Wednesday.
“I just recognized in my own love of Elvis that there was this opportunity for a new story and my initial conversations with both Jon Landau and really, Priscilla, was that there was a point where the music was getting lost, a backstory about Elvis that we felt was played out,” Zimny said. “As a filmmaker, it was a great new challenge to suddenly look at this story differently. Not to repeat certain things that have been out there.”
Presley said she hopes the documentary contains the elements to truly open the audience’s eyes to Elvis’ journey as a musician.
“He always came back to Memphis because Hollywood didn’t get him,” she said. “And he didn’t like Hollywood. He needed to come back to where things felt real.”
Presley said the team behind the film wanted the movie to be six hours. “You cannot tell Elvis’ story in one hour,” she said. “You cannot tell it in two hours. So that’s why I say it takes you on a journey. In this generation, everybody wants everything right now, but in order to get the true feeling of it, you have to see it.”
The documentary will premiere on HBO GO and HBO NOW on April 14 at 8 p.m.