When Katy Perry invited two young filmmakers to document her life on the road during an epic, at times gruelling, world tour – spanning a full year and playing to wildly enthusiastic sell-out crowds at 124 arenas all over the world – she gave them access to all areas.
Nothing, she declared, was off-limits and the resulting, revealing film, “Katy Perry: Part of Me,” is an intimate fly-on-the-wall portrait of a natural born performer hitting the very peak of global popularity. The film hits the highs (without glossing over the lows) of Perry’s extraordinary journey, both personally and professionally.
The initial plan to document her tour, and capture the excitement of her live shows, first came up in 2010, and quickly developed into a much bigger project. “The idea was to catch everything on film,” says Perry.
“I had a conversation with my management about the possibility of showing it as episodes on the Internet for my fan base, or maybe making it into a television program and, maybe, in our wildest dreams, making a movie out of it. And our wildest dreams came true.”
She approached filmmakers Ed Lovelace and James Hall – known as D.A.R.Y.L – who had successfully worked with the star before, and asked them to join her on the road.
“I just reached out to them and said, ‘Hi, guys, I can feel that something important is about to happen this year—it feels like this big wave is coming, and it’s going to be a long one. And I’d like you to come on the road and document the ride.’”
That ‘big wave’ was her California Dreams tour, which would take her all across the States, Europe, South America and into the Far East, in what would become one of the most demanding, exciting and turbulent periods of her remarkable young life.
As well as capturing the excitement of her live shows, the film also charts the artist’s background, her early beginnings as a singer/ songwriter (influenced by her born again Christian parents), and includes interviews with her family, including older sister Angela and younger brother David, along with her ever loyal team of aides.
It shows her development as a precociously gifted youngster struggling to make it, her setbacks with various record companies, and finally – after, as she describes it, “paying her dues” – the triumphs of her hard-earned success.
By 2010, she was established as a genuine pop music sensation with her second album, “Teenage Dream,” topping the Billboard 200 chart and spawning a remarkable, record-breaking five Number One singles – “California Gurls,” “Teenage Dream,” “Firework,” “E.T.” and “Last Friday Night.” She is the only female artist ever to achieve this.
In 2010, Perry married the actor and comedian Russell Brand, but their relationship broke down while she was still on the road at the end of 2011. The film shows a clearly upset Perry, determined to ensure that the show must go on, even when strain and emotional distress are taking their toll.
The result is a raw, sometimes painful, honest and compelling portrait of a young woman, who also happens to be a worldwide pop phenomenon. It captures the energy and excitement of Katy Perry onstage, and shows her unbreakable bond with the fans that have helped take her to the top.
She admits that before she watched the finished film for the first time, she shed a tear. “I’d already lived it once, so it was an abbreviated version of what I lived in a whole year, basically. And, of course, there’s all that backstory.
“I cried a little bit by myself before I watched it, just because it was an intense moment for me…and I’ve been through so many intense things in the past year, coming out of that tour and overcoming personal obstacles.”
Perry feels that it was important to give a full picture of her life at that time, without glossing over her personal troubles. “The narrative is really about overcoming these obstacles of where I came from, who I wanted to be and my personal obstacle of what I had to get through,” she says.
“And now, I’m still here and I’m still standing. And I think it was important to me to leave in those scenes of me in distress. It was a difficult decision, and I get sweaty palms even thinking about it. It’s the elephant in the room that I couldn’t avoid or ignore, because it would be ignorant of me to think I could make a complete film without touching on it.
“And I’ve always wanted every choice I make to have integrity. Sometimes, that’s not the easy choice, but hopefully, what people get from this is that they don’t have to change who they are to fulfill their dreams. That’s what I believe and that’s what I’ve tried to do myself.”
The millions of Katy Perry fans out there will, perhaps, already know much of her ‘backstory,’ but for those who only know the music, or some of it, they will discover an immensely likeable, charming, funny, loyal and hugely talented woman, living in the eye of a whirlwind and doing her very best to remain true to herself and her music.
The tour was a chance to say “Thank you!” to the fans that have put her on top. “I love people. I’m a people person,” she says. “And I know that my fans are the main reason I’m here.
“Obviously, there are many talented people in the world who don’t get that break, and we all know that. But I know the reason why I got that break, and it’s because I do have that relationship with my fans and that they see me on a human level and relate to me. They are the ones giving me this opportunity, and I feel I owe it to them to give something back.”
Most of all, she says, she hopes that Part of Me delivers a positive message—be true to yourself and never give up on your dreams, even when there are seemingly insurmountable hurdles to overcome.
“I hope that people will be inspired and get moving, and I hope that they will be encouraged to know that they don’t have to change into something that they are not in order to succeed. My message is, ‘Live a full life and reach your goals, however big or small they may be.”
check out the movie trailer below: