Meet Good Ol' Freda

NFF has always had a strongly programmed slate of documentaries, and NFF18 is no exception.  (Our Documentary Program is presented by A&E IndieFilms.)

We had the chance to talk with Ryan White, director of NFF 2013 film Good Ol' Freda, which chronicles the life of Freda Kelly. Kelly was a shy Liverpool teenager when she was hired by a local band hoping to make it big. That band was The Beatles, and loyal Freda would be the group’s secretary for 11 years. In Good Ol’ Freda, one of few films with the support of the living Beatles and featuring original Beatles music, she tells her stories for the first time, offering an insider’s perspective of the band that changed music history.

Read more about the film below, and check out a screening on Saturday, June 29 at 9:30am and/or Sunday, June 30 at 5:30pm!


NFF: How did you connect with Freda Kelly? Did you have to seek her out, or did you have a pre-existing relationship?

White: I have known Freda since I was young, but I had no idea she was The Beatles' secretary. She really is that private! My uncle is Billy Kinsley of the Merseybeats (a contemporary band of The Beatles) and Freda is a friend of his, so I knew her from family weddings or holidays growing up. But I wasn't aware of her "previous life" until she and producer Kathy McCabe brought the idea of the film to me two years ago.

NFF: What was the most interesting or shocking thing you learned while making the film?

White: My favorite part was getting to be a part of the remembering process with Freda. After our premiere at SXSW, Freda's daughter came up to me and said, "95% of that movie was completely new to me." Freda hadn't taken the time to tell these stories to even the people closest to her in her life. So just being able to go places with her that she hadn't been since the 60's and see the memories move through her was really special.

NFF: Did this process change the way you viewed the Beatles?

White: I think Freda humanizes The Beatles in a way that people don't often think about anymore. She knew them when they were just boys before they were "The Beatles." So I think many of her stories are very endearing and highlight what each of their personalities was like before they faced worldwide fame.

NFF: What do you hope audiences take away from this film?

White: I hope audiences get to meet a woman who is a very rare personality -- a woman who sought privacy over money, and anonymity over fame. And on top of that, I hope Beatles fans getting 86 minutes of brand-new stories with a killer soundtrack including Beatles tracks.

NFF: Do you have any upcoming projects?

White: I'm working on a film about the gay marriage lawsuit about Prop 8 in California that is currently awaiting a decision from the U.S. Supreme Court. My co-director Ben Cotner and I have been following the case behind-the-scenes for four years, and the film should be out early next year.