In a new interview, the director of the Netflix documentary WHAM! – which traces the rise of George Michael and Andrew Ridgeley’s rise in the eponymous pop group – has revealed that the estate of the late Michael was “supportive” of the movie, and “instrumental” in opening up the band’s archive.
Director Chris Smith spoke to Attitude ahead of WHAM! ‘s release today, explaining that the expansive documentary took years to assemble, with him and his team crafting the narrative from heirlooms such as scrapbooks and other “archival materials”.
Smith said that the initial conversations about the film were held “almost four years ago,” following the publication of Ridgeley’s 2019 memoir, WHAM! George & Me. “After that, it took a long time to collect all the archival materials,” the filmmaker explained.
“Once we got them, there was so much to look through. It took over a year just to get through everything and understand what was there so we could start making it into a movie,” Smith continued.
Notably, George Michael passed away on Christmas Day 2016, and his estate were “supportive” of the project, helping Smith and his team to piece it together. “The estate was very supportive in terms of opening up the archive to us,” Smith revealed. “Andrew did everything on his end that he could with materials that were in his possession.”
Michael’s mother, Lesley, kept scrapbooks to document Wham!’s rise to fame, which proved crucial to Smith and his team in putting the movie together. “We were able to get scrapbooks from his mother. They were instrumental in helping craft the narrative and to help you understand the story better,” the director told the publication.
“Simon [Halfon, executive producer] was able to source a lot of things from different people that [George] knew,” he said. “It was a collection of different sources and interviews that he knew that George had done over the years.”
Smith concluded: “We were able to sort of pull those in, but all of Andrews interviews were done recently.” Read our review of WHAM! here.