Brett Morgen, who wrote and directed the new David Bowie film Moonage Daydream, said he originally wanted to make an entirely different film about the icon, exploring what might have happened if he had never moved on from his Ziggy Stardust era.

The pair had discussed the possibility when they met 15 years ago, but Bowie eventually declined to take part, as Morgen explained in a recent interview with Variety.

“I met David in 2007 to discuss a potential collaboration on a hybrid nonfiction project – not Moonage Daydream, something very different that was going to be more performance-based,” he said. “That film that I pitched him imagined that David never evolved after Ziggy and that we would find him in present-day Berlin, and he has been playing the same songs for the past 40 years at a dive bar in the middle of the night to the last four people on Earth who are paying attention.”

He knew that the “wild presentation” would lead to “a lot of shooting,” which was a problem in that Bowie “was in semiretirement at that point. ... The man who became his executor called afterwards and said, you know, ‘David enjoyed the pitch but he’s not at a place where he can do this right now.’”

After Bowie died in 2016, Morgen received permission to explore the artist’s archives to make a film that would be “Brett on Bowie” rather than “Bowie on Bowie.” The director knew he wanted to create a nonlinear work that felt more like a “theme park ride.”

“It took the better part of two years to get that material digitized and collated, and then two more years for me to screen through it, six days a week in 12-hour days,” he said. “I had possibly the two greatest years of my career going to work every day to watch and listen to David Bowie.”

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