Billie Eilish not only has the No. 1 album in the country—Happier Than Ever—she’s also the subject of the Emmy-nominated documentary Billie Eilish: The World’s A Little Blurry, directed by R.J. Cutler.
The Apple Original Films doc chronicling the Grammy-winning teenage singer-songwriter’s creative process, family life, astonishing rise and adjustment to worldwide fame earned Emmy nominations in four categories including music direction, sound mixing, sound editing and picture editing.
Music director and music mixer, Aron Forbes, a double Emmy nominee, has worked with Eilish for years already, and co-wrote one of her earliest hits, “Bored.” Eilish performs the song early in the film.
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“She was 13 years old when I wrote that with her, which is just unbelievable to think about,” Forbes said during a panel discussion for the documentary at Deadline’s Contenders Television: The Nominees awards-season event. Forbes said knowing Eilish as well as he does informed his approach to the music direction on the doc.
“As a music director—it’s like a producer or a director of anything—you’re gathering information, you’re gathering data on what somebody likes, what they don’t like, what parts of songs are important to them, their taste,” Forbes said. “So I had a really big filing cabinet of information of things that I know Billie does love that I could bring to the documentary and help try to make it better with that knowledge of her taste and preference.”
Emmy-nominated supervising sound editor Richard Yawn said the film’s sound design was intended to mirror Eilish’s evolution from emerging artist to mega-star.
“We really tried to stick with… the approach of less is more, in a sense, early on in her career. A lot of that crowd stuff you hear [early on] is actually in the production tracks and some of it’s from her live mic,” Yawn said. “You can tell she’s very interactive with her crowd, but as it progressed through her career and she got more successful is when we started introducing more crowds and sounds and things like that, like when we get to [her performance at] Coachella.”
The film shows how emotionally fans respond to Eilish’s music. Forbes says she’s the real deal.
“She’s saying things that kids relate to because it’s just in them. ‘Ohmygosh, she understands me…’ Her music, it’s honest,” Forbes said. “She’s vulnerable. She doesn’t hold anything back. She wasn’t cutting scenes from the documentary. She’s like, ‘No, I want people to see what this was really like.’ I think that’s how she writes her music too… She is as good as you think and then way beyond. It’s shocking.”
Check back Monday for the panel video.