Metallica’s tumultuous 2001 has been captured by filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky, best known for the film Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills, for an upcoming documentary.
The duo approached Metallica five years ago, but the band politely declined the offer to be a film subject. “They said when they were ready they’d come to us,” Sinofsky said. The band eventually agreed to the film and waived any fee from the filmmakers. Berlinger and Sinofsky have shot hundreds of hours so far, capturing Metallica at work on a new album, their first in five years, but they claim that they’ve only shot thirty to forty percent of the material that will make up the final film. “It’s looking very intimate, very personal and I think it will excite the band too,” he continued. “Joe said early on that if we were going to make a film, we wanted to know we were going to get access. If we look at one of our films and realize that other people could’ve got it, then we’ve failed.”
The filmmaking team has already captured more drama than it initially anticipated. In January 2001, bassist Jason Newsted left the band after fifteen years, citing “private and personal reasons, and the physical damage that I have done to myself over the years while playing the music that I love” as the reasons for his departure. In July, the band halted sessions on its first album since 1997’s Reload, when frontman James Hetfield entered rehab.
“You don’t wish bad news on anyone, but it unquestionably makes for drama, and you’re there to capture it,” Sinofsky said. “So the band going through some flux and some growing pains is the kind of material a filmmaker prays for.”