In 2019, four-time Grammy award winner Jason Isbell recorded his album Reunions. As he did so, he discussed his life and work with director Sam Jones. The result is Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed, an unflinchingly honest account of a difficult childhood, Jason’s addiction to drink and drugs, the ups and downs of his marriage to fellow musician Amanda Shires, and how he has poured his life into his music.

In this episode of Factual America, Sam joins Matthew Sherwood to discuss his film and its star. They explore how listening is essential to creating good cinematic visuals, the effect that the Covid-19 pandemic had on Jason Isbell’s life as well as on the process of making the documentary, the ‘triumphant ending’ to Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed that in the end didn’t even make the final cut, and points of connection between how Sam makes his films and Jason records his music.

Matthew discovers a promising new form of media (!), while both he and Sam find similarities between Jason Isbell and Amanda Shires and other famous musical and Hollywood couples from the past and present. 

Jason Isbell: Running With Our Eyes Closed is an intensely personal film about a musician at the height of his powers. With his commitment to cinéma vérité, Sam Jones is the ideal man to direct it.

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“... the challenge in editing the film was finding these portals between past and present. And what I found is that both past and present inform each other... knowing about his past made the present more rich, and then seeing him in the present struggle gave more context to his past.” – Sam Jones

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