The first thing that i wanted to ask you was: what did you set out to do with this? You know we started uh. We started doing this researching for it. I guess early last year and the uh, the the purpose of it, was to look back at the media coverage of brittany, especially around like 2007 2008 through a 2020. At that time lens. You know post me too, when you’re uh we’re able to talk about mental health. More all these things and when you look at the coverage, uh it’s, so shocking. Really my jaw dropped with some of the late night monologue moments or interview moments. It it’s just wild to look at it through the lens of how we live and speak about women now right, exactly so that’s what we had set out to do when we were originally researching um, and i also thought you know there’s these photographs uh. These still frames that people always think of when they think of britney spears, people don’t, know her so, for example, a photo of her shaving her head or a photo of her hitting a paparazzo’s car with an umbrella. Those have that those single frames have lasted for so long uh and i really wanted to know like what was outside the frame because there’s been so much unfair coverage of brittany and so many assumptions about her. So that was originally what we were um going for, which is still definitely a big part of the film is like what is outside of this frame and how framing britney spears yeah, and how much has this one frame affected? Her life uh people are still associating her with that those frames um and, as we were filming you know, the the free brittany movement was was already going, but they were operating on this assumption that brittany wanted uh them to do it or that britney wanted something To change in her conservatorship because, as far as we know publicly for almost the past 12 years, she hasn’t signaled through the court that she wanted anything to change, that we know of uh, and so the fans were kind of operating on this gut instinct.
You know this doesn’t seem right, something’s wrong. I think britney doesn’t want to be in the situation she’s in and while we were filming with them all these court documents started dropping and all these court filings where yes, uh brittany does indicate that she wants something to change, and brittany does indicate that she wants Her father uh her father’s role to change, and so is this like vindication for the fans, and then we dove right in having spoken to all the people that you talk to. Do you think that britney is signaling for help in her social media what’s? Your thought on it, that is the question i mean um since brittany has such a tight circle around her in part because of the conservatorship or it’s allowed to be that way because of the conservatorship. You know, journalists haven’t really been able to interview her freely. We as the new york times haven’t interviewed her because we want to be able to do it freely, with no one trying to adjust what she says or anything, and it just feels like you, can’t ask brittany, uh and so a lot of people look at her Instagram myself included and just wonder what this is. This appears to be the only thing she uh the only place where she’s speaking, but we don’t know if she’s controlling her instagram. Also so you you do say in the documentary you list the people you reached out to who all declined to be interviewed among them: uh jamie spears, her father, her mother, um people from his legal team.
What kind of responses of no did you get uh? We got a lot of people we just got. We got a lot of uh people who didn’t respond. I think that’s. You know. I think it is kind of standard that, when you’re in a legal um proceeding, you don’t talk to the media um, but i i think, it’s more than that they haven’t talked about it in so long right. We a lot of times we, you know, we tried everybody, multiple ways um, so we would get. I mean we did get a couple: people yell at us and hang up um as you do, but uh. We also talked to a lot of lawyers um and had the response from them, and what about brittany? You guys say that you reached out to her and you weren’t even sure. If she got your requests, what methods did you try to use there it’s really hard to know um, since you know most of the time as the new york times? If i want to interview somebody who’s famous, i would call up their publicist and send this request to this person and sometimes a lot of times. The person will review it and give it back to the publicist, but we’re unclear whether that happened, and so you know we talked. We went through those usual uh places and then we also went through people who know her or know people who know her that uh to get requests in.
So we we asked in several different ways um, but it is still unclear if she definitely got them. How do you feel about the representation on both sides like i, i don’t know how you get the jamie spears side when no one would give you an interview, but do you wish that you had more from them and from the family in there? Well, i mean to to to be clear: we asked them several times over the court. We gave them every opportunity to respond. You know over the course of many months um and they declined. So we, you know a lot of times. We uh pulled their responses from you know. At one point: we have a washington post article and we had to pull the response from there or a page six article, and so we did we tried to put in and we tried to. We have a lot of media commentary. You’Ll like hear this new news, voices kind of throughout the whole piece um as like us as style, because that’s what it’s the whole thing like hinges on news coverage in a lot of ways, but um. So we do get um. You know i went into the courtroom when we were allowed to go into the courtroom towards the end, and i heard all the arguments from jamie’s lawyers and we tried to to represent the arguments there, and so i don’t think there’s actually um to my knowledge that Many arguments that they presented that are not represented in the piece it’s really interesting too, to see because sometimes i’ll go on youtube and look up old interviews with her, but to see it all compiled in this documentary.
You really start to remember: britney was doing interviews and presenting a different personality years ago, and what did you think, as you were kind of going through some of this old footage and seeing that brittany that we grew up with yeah? I was um struck by how in control she was uh, how much power she seemed to have over uh what she was doing. What she was saying – and that also came from a lot of the interviews that i did with these people, who were with her toward the beginning of her career everybody, you know individually separately, all said you know. The biggest misconception of brittany is that she was a puppet that wasn’t in control of what she was doing, even as a teenager. She knew exactly what her music was going to sound like what her outfits were going to be how she wanted to perform. I know at her first tour. She performed in overalls with bare feet because that’s what she wanted to do, um and so seeing how much control she had been and and seeing how she’s like there’s a court sanctioned conservatorship in which she has uh, is telling you know can’t control. A lot of the key decisions in her life um is is surprising that contradiction to watch. I didn’t then. Nor do i now understand what a conservatorship is, especially for somebody brittany’s age and somebody capable of so much that i know firsthand she’s capable of it was fascinating to watch.
You talk to her former assistant uh felicia i’d. Never seen her do interviews anywhere before. How did you get her to sit down with you and what did you just kind of think of everything she had to say uh? You know it took a long time to to and to connect with fee and get her to uh agree um. I actually think you know going through all the footage and all the media coverage of her there’s, so much media coverage of brittany, that’s done by men and it was. It was actually hard to find women to interview um at first, so at jive records. We were, you know. The usual suspects are men that are interviewed about the beginning of her career, so we wanted to find a woman and we found kim kaiman who was her marketing uh executive, who we actually through talking to her realized like wow. This woman was so involved with creating britney’s image at the beginning, you know, and so we came and interviewed her. We have a all female crew um on the on this on most almost all of our shoots and um. You know our directors and producers are all female and i think kim was struck by that, and so she reached out to felicia and like kind of vouched for us and that’s, why felicia ended up talking to us. I don’t know if you asked her, but did she have any speculation on you know just where britney is at mentally and emotionally now um? I mean felicia maintained throughout that um that you know what we see on instagram is, you know, britney loves to dance and she loves to play around and and she you know, felicia worked for her brittany within two months of the conservatorship happening was guest uh guest Starring on tv, on how i met your mother and like within uh, the year was perform, was practicing for her next tour.
She had a tour. She had an album and felicia came back to work on it and she was just really talking about how how much how she felt like britney could have made like a lot of the decisions that were happening there. That was her opinion. Um you’ll yeah you’ll, see in the document did you feel like felicia was some kind of a representative to kind of try and get brittany’s voice out a little bit since she’s not involved in the legality of it all. Since she could speak. I do i think um felicia is one of the people who well from what i’ve heard from from many people. I’Ve talked to felicia is one of the people who who has spent the most time with brittany, who knows brittany, the the best she feels. I remember felicia said to me there’s just that all everybody’s trying to know what’s in britney’s heart – and there are just a handful of us who know what’s in her heart and people keep keep searching for that. And i think it was definitely a breakthrough in the emotional story, because i it was very challenging to not have people who talk about her and make assumptions because there’s it’s. So many people just want to say their whole think piece on brittany and and like they don’t know, but felicia actually knows her, and you know she says in the piece i wanted to um. I wanted to remind people of why they fell in love with brittany.
In the first place, is there a reason that she doesn’t speak out more or didn’t do interviews before? What do you think that is, if anything, i think, um anyone close to brittany. Uh really feels the power of getting burned by the media there’s a moment uh where you know we’re talking about the media coverage of this the paparazzi and you asked the paparazzo who was there for that umbrella moment. His car was smashed and you asked him about his feelings on the whole thing and he says well. Britney never asked us to leave her alone. Danny does say in the documentary like it was hard to understand what she was going through when we were in the moment. One of the reasons we wanted danny to tell that story is that, because he was videotaping, so we could see the video. So when you look at it it’s, you know it’s this epic moment in a in a still frame photograph, but it lasted like two seconds when you watch it on video um, and he tells the story that he had actually been following her around um before that. For a really long time as she was attempting to see her kids and and wasn’t able to and so like, if you’re, a mother and you’re not able to see your kids when you want to – and somebody is coming up to you asking you questions about it – The full story behind the picture, yeah.
What do you think is the future of her conservatorship having been to the hearings and and done all the research that you’ve done. Where do you see it going? Um yeah, i mean, i think, a lot of people see a lot of symbolism and this idea that her father is controlling her, like uh symbolic of the patriarchy, but actually literally um but uh. You know these court uh hearings, keep it’s, it’s lasted a long time and something that we bring up in the film you know is by looking at brittany’s story, there’s a lot of questions we have about the conservatorship system and, if there’s like areas where it could Possibly there could be conflicts of interest, so, for example, britney is paying for her own lawyers and she’s also paying for her father’s lawyers, and she pays for the her conservators as well and so um. Some people could see opportunity for there to be a conflict of interest because as long as the conservatorship keeps going, all those people keep getting paid, um and also paying for lawyers to argue against each other is so unique. So my prediction is it’s going to last a long time and for you, what barriers did you encounter while trying to make this movie? If any, were there people trying to stop you from different sides of the legal battle, yeah yeah for sure, so many people around brittany have ndas and they, you know, would have to pay a lot of money if they said anything.
Um people were scared. Um jamie’s team has sued some fans before um and you know there’s a legal threat. That way i mean we are the new york times, so we weren’t worried like we wanted to go after everybody, but we’ve gotten.