They weren't there when Metallica voted bassist Jason Newsted off the island, but a camera crew has been watching the band since April, capturing the group's inner workings and headline-grabbing drama for an upcoming documentary.
Acclaimed filmmakers Joe Berlinger and Bruce Sinofsky have been working with the metal veterans to document the aftermath of Newsted's exit, frontman James Hetfield's battle with alcohol and substance abuse, and guitarist Kirk Hammett's and drummer Lars Ulrich's struggle to keep the band alive in their leader's absence.
"Joe and I have dealt with some really difficult subject matter [for the film]," Sinofsky said on the band's Web site. "You don't wish bad news on anyone, but it unquestionably makes for drama and you're there to capture it. So, [a] band going through some flux and some growing pains is the kind of material a filmmaker prays for. Of course, on a personal level you don't want people to go through their tortures and dealing with their demons, but ultimately for the Metallica fans, they will see things they've never seen before. And to quote Joe, 'I think right now we hit upon an amazingly important band going through some amazing changes.' "
Berlinger and Sinofsky have shot hundreds of hours of footage for the still-untitled movie, but they've only got 30 to 40 percent of the footage they'll need, Sinofsky said.
The documentarians' relationship with the band dates back to the mid-1990s, when they wanted to license songs for their 1996 film, "Paradise Lost: The Child Murders at Robin Hood Hills," which was about three teenagers in West Memphis, Arkansas, who were convicted of murdering three 8-year-old boys.
Not only did the band agree to cough up the cuts "Orion," "Call of Ktulu" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" (since they were fans of the duo's 1992 film, "Brother's Keeper"), they did so for free. And they offered the moviemakers a second round of Metallica songs for the follow-up flick, "Paradise Lost 2: Revelations," which came out in 2000 and further explored the bizarre murder case.
It was around that time that Metallica struck up a close friendship with the pair, who asked if the band would be interested in being the subject of their next movie. At the time, the group was not ready to be filmed, but early last year Ulrich called Sinofsky and said Metallica were prepared to do it.
"They said when they were ready they'd come to us, and they have," Sinofsky said. "Joe and I are very excited. It's looking very intimate, very personal, and I think it will excite the band too."
This isn't the first time Metallica have been the subject of a documentary. Film crews captured the making of the band's self-titled 1991 album for the home video release "Metallica: A Year and a Half in the Life Of ..." (1992).