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George Harrison said there was something frightening about the music and film industries. Starting in the early 1980s, George was a part of both. He was a famous musician and a film producer at his own HandMade Films.

George Harrison at The Beatles' Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction ceremony in 1988.
George Harrison | Sonia Moskowitz/IMAGES/Getty Images

George Harrison navigated both the music and film industries

Obviously, George got his start as the guitarist of The Beatles. It was a hectic 10 or so years being a Beatle. The group achieved international success and became one of the most famous rock ‘n’ roll bands in history. However, it all came with a price. Beatlemania took its toll.

When The Beatles split, George released All Things Must Pass as a reaction to leaving the group. He never pursued a solo career and sort of fell into it.

By the late 1970s and early 1980s, George had become disenchanted with the music industry. They wanted him to make hits that sounded like everything else on the radio. George just wanted to record the music he liked when he liked. It wasn’t a serious thing.

Eventually, after being sick with the system for so long, George decided to back off from music altogether. Around that time, George’s friends in Monty Python told him their backers had dropped them. They’d lost funding for their film, Life of Brian. George liked the movie’s concept and decided to back it financially.

The result was HandMade Films. So, George traded music for film temporarily. He thought he’d shut his film production company down after Life of Brian, but then all of his friends kept coming to him with scripts.

George on the frightening thing about the music and film industries

During a 1989 interview with Mark Rowland (per George Harrison on George Harrison: Interviews and Encounters), George explained that HandMade started getting big. Eventually, it started getting to the point where George wanted to pull the plug on it a bit.

HandMade Films made movies that “either had to be done and nobody else would do them or because it was a certain project that was close to us, through friends of ours or something,” George said.

They got more people to help, and then they started making movies because they had more people working for them. George said he saw that “danger” and wanted to deflate it. “Plus, over the years it’s become increasingly difficult to get a small film distributed, or to get it where people, you know, can go and see it.”

George saw the danger in that too. If little films couldn’t be made, everything came down to big industry. It would essentially wipe out artistic expression.

“Some time ago you could put out a film, and it would be a bit of time before it built and got established, and then you’d have some audience,” George explained. “But these days, or even going back five or six years, it was like, if your film doesn’t clean up on the first weekend, it’s out, because there’s so much product.”

So, the same thing George was running away from in the music industry was poisoning the film industry too.

“This is the frightening thing of the film and the music industry,” George said. “There’s too many people, too much product.”


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George wanted to make a ‘silly comedy movie full of silly music’

For the most part, George didn’t combine music and film in HandMade Films. He wrote songs for “Shanghai Surprise,” “Water,” and “Time Bandits.” However, George dreamed of combining music and film and making a “silly comedy movie full of silly songs.”

He told Film Comment, “Maybe as my last fling, I’ll have this huge but very cheap flop with all my mates in it.” George added to Rowland that music and film go together.

“They can all complement each other,” he said. “It depends on how it’s done really. I think in certain areas some things have been good. What I wanted to do someday is to get the music first and then write the movie to go with the music.”

George never got to make his silly comedy movie, but he was right about the music and film industries. They only got bigger after the 1980s.