NASHVILLE Kicking off the debut of the new Country Music Hall of Fame's Star Experience Theater is a behind-the-scenes film that looks into the life of country superstar Tim McGraw.
Shot last year during McGraw's Soul 2 Soul Tour with wife Faith Hill, "Star Experience With Tim McGraw" features interviews with the singer, concert footage and offstage scenes of the superstar with his wife, children and band members. Interviews with McGraw's road crew including a traveling chef provide an insider's view of the work and expertise involved in mounting a major arena tour.
McGraw and Hill are shown on the road with their two young daughters, Gracie and Maggie. The blond toddlers are shown in candid scenes with their parents and, in one instance, Gracie herself mans the video camera, resulting in some spontaneous kid's footage.
The 23-minute film was produced by Kim Palmer and directed by Thom Oliphant of The Collective, a Nashville-based film and television company. "We wanted to do something that went behind the scenes of a star we hadn't seen before," said Oliphant. "We found that Tim and Faith essentially take their family life on the road. We thought it would be interesting to have the concert stuff, the road stuff and also get into what his family life is like, what it's like to live out there for months at a time. It was really about letting Tim and Faith tell their own story, to let Tim show what it's like to be a dad who also happens to be a superstar on the road."
Oliphant said he was struck by the couple's dedication to preserving family life while on tour. "They had one whole truck dedicated to couches and rugs and toys, things that would make their kids feel normal on the road," he explained. "Of all the concert stuff I've shot in my life, I'd never seen that before. It was amazing to see one whole truck dedicated to replicating their home life as much as possible."
The film includes concert footage of McGraw, of his duet with Hill on "It's Your Love," and scenes of the famous parents interacting with their children from eating together as a family to importing a petting zoo for Maggie's birthday party.
"It's not an act," said Oliphant. "The underlying magic of both of them was the fact that so many signs in the crowd said 'Say Hi To Gracie.' People know Tim and Faith are married people and parents; fans can absolutely identify with it."
The film, which runs continuously throughout the day, depicts both the professional and private sides of an entertainer's life. For Oliphant, the fact that McGraw and Hill have risen to the top of the country world without sacrificing their personal lives is a testament to their marriage.
"I was really struck by the energy of Tim's music, the electricity in the arena as he performed," Oliphant said. "I was also amazed by how two people can carry on a relationship and raise a family with essentially every aspect of their life in the public eye, and seemingly do it very normally, without an army of nannies and handlers. They seemed to do it as real parents, and then for two hours a night stand up there in front of 20,000 people and just let it out. That was really amazing."