Joe Mardin never wanted to be a film guy. His newly released documentary, The Greatest Ears in Town: The Arif Mardin Story, started simply as a way to capture for posterity the work of the legendary music producer--Joe's father--Arif Mardin as he recorded what would be the senior Mardin's final project.
"I'm a music person," Joe Mardin says of the project, which began filming in the middle of the sessions that would emerge as the 2010 compilation All My Friends Are Here. "I was hoping we'd have some support with the finances from the studio or Warner Music Group. Instead, the film became the responsibility of myself and my family. I became involved in every aspect."
After Arif Mardin's death of a few months after filming began, Joe took time to finish the recording. He and his crew regrouped later and began interviewing some of the major stars who had worked with Arif throughout his lengthy career. There were roadblocks. Some artists presented Mardin with scheduling conflicts and some songs presented issues with copyright.
"We don't have the infrastructure of even a small movie studio," he admits. "It was a daunting task to tell the story of this huge life."
A lesser artist might have given up, but Mardin had a larger purpose than simply getting something to the screen. "It was important to me as a lover of music to document my father's life and work to make it available to both students and music lovers," he says of the task. "I look at it as a forever sort of project."