Family, feuds and conkers: Director Joe Pearlman on how Bros gave him “documentary gold”

Is another reunion on the cards this year?

There are few things that the British public love more than an underdog. It’s part of the reason why thousands of us sat down over the festive period to watch Bros: After The Screaming Stops.

The documentary captures the unlikely reunion of ’80s heartthrobs Matt and Luke Goss as they came together for the first time in nearly 30 years for two shows at London’s O2 Arena in August 2017. But from the off, it’s clear that it won’t be plain sailing – a huge row on the set of This Morning sets for the scene for a documentary that is somewhere in-between The Office and Metallica’s Some Kind of Anger.

Most importantly though, we’re gunning for the pair throughout the whole thing. It’s also a poignant look at that thing we all struggle with sometimes – family.

Five watches later, we’ve caught up with co-director Joe Pearlman to get his take on the best music film of 2018.

How did you get involved? Did the band come to you?

“I co-wrote the film with a guy called David Soutar and he got a text from their tour manager at the time that said Bros are coming back. There were several other meetings and we eventually decided to get out and meet them. From the moment we sat down with them, we knew they were amazing characters but, more importantly, documentary gold.”

How early in the process did you realise that it was full of those moments that everyone’s been talking about over Christmas?

“That scene at Matt’s house in Las Vegas was the first one I shot. From then, we had a strong idea that some pretty interesting things were coming out of it. But that moment where Matt talks about not being Superstitious because of Stevie Wonder, that came during one five hour interview session. At the end of that, we walked away without any clarity. But then we sat down in the edit and realised some of the gold they’d given us and some of the beautiful moments we’d be able to put across.”

It has seemingly come out of nowhere to become one of the most watched shows on iPlayer. How have Matt and Luke reacted?

“Great! I spoke to Matt the other night and I’ve spoken to Luke as well. They’re really happy about it. I think they didn’t want to make something you’d expect – which is a nostalgic look back at the ’80s. They wanted something that had personality, humour and a real journey as well. They wanted to reflect the pain that came from losing their mum and their sister and how that’s been a real journey for them. It definitely gives you the feel of that, and also how much they went through back in the day.

“At the same time, it also captures some of the most candid moments of their comeback.”

On that note, the film opens with the incredibly powerful scene of Matt and Luke fighting only minutes before going on This Morning. How happy were they to have that tension on display throughout the film?

“They gave us full creative control. They saw the final cut of the film only weeks before we screened it for the first time at Fantastic Fest in Texas last September. They wanted nothing removed and it’s because they trusted us – they knew we’d do them right.”

There have been quite a few comparisons to This Is Spinal Tap and the early work of Ricky Gervais. Do you think they’re justified?

“To say that this film is being compared to the greatest comedies of all time, there’s nothing justified about that because they’re the greatest comedies of all time. But ultimately, if there’s being comparisons made to those characters then that’s an amazing thing.

“What we’ve tried to do is tell the story of two brothers and the painful relationship they’ve had throughout their life – which has been affected by death, fame and all the rest of it. I think the people who really love the film are the ones who are really rooting for them when they’re standing on stage at the end.”

What struck me is how it really comes down to the story of two brothers. How important was it to establish that strong sense of family?

“That’s what it was all about for us. One of the most frequent questions we’ve been getting is why wasn’t Craig [Logan, original bassist] in the film.

“It’s because the film is not about Bros, there’s no one else in this film. There’s two talking heads at the beginning and they only have two lines. There’s no one else who comments on the boys’ relationship throughout the film. The most important thing was to tell the story of two brothers and I think it really achieved that.”

Matt Goss and Luke Goss attend the UK Premiere of “After The Screaming Stops”

Those scenes where Matt and Luke talk about the loss of their mum and sister are arguably the most powerful moments of the film. How emotional was it to capture them?

“It was difficult, because I’d lost my own mother just before we started filming this. The rawness of those scenes was very real. I think that led to the honesty of those scenes and I was able to relate to it in the way we all can. That’s an amazing thing.”

At times, it also seems like a cautionary tale about what can happen when you achieve fame at a a young age.

“Absolutely; what the boys went through in the ’80s is a cautionary tale about what can happen in an industry that has obviously changed a lot, but can also spit you out as quickly as it can bring you in. They had a really bad time in the 80s. Hats off to them for building careers outside of that. Matt has been extremely successful in Vegas, while Luke has been a very successful actor. That’s an incredible thing, imagine an entire country gunning for you and then leaving that country to rebuild your lives.

“That’s very impressive, that’s nothing to sneer at.”

How cathartic was it for them to film a story that people don’t know?

“One of the most cathartic moments of their entire life. I think they were waiting and ready to tell their story, and put themselves back in the limelight in the UK. That honesty has definitely helped them achieve that.”

Do you think that it could open the door for future Bros shows then?

“They’re definitely talking about shows this year! I can’t talk about exact details at the moment, but there are going to be Bros shows this year – although I expect they’ll get a very different audience. They’ve got a whole new audience now. People might not always love their music but they love them – that’s important.”

But they’ll still have that audience of Brosettes too.

“Yes, and they’ve been amazing. Imagine everyone talking down the band you’ve loved and then talking about them again some 30 years later. We didn’t necessarily make the film for them, but I know they absolutely love it and it’s an amazing thing.”

Finally, are there any other bands or artists that you’d like to profile in a similar vein?

“It’s a good question. Lynyrd Skynyrd or The Beastie Boys would be interesting, but I don’t know if there will be any other Matt or Lukes out there.”