Filming Surrender

Original Story by Aaron J. Sams (2023-05-20)

Please Note: The following information is about a project not yet formally announced, and as such details may change between now and the release date.

Bono’s recent “Stories of Surrender“ tour wrapped up with a series of special events to capture content for a film dedicated to his “quarter-man-show”. Although not formally announced, the documentary of the tour has been underway for some time. We are expecting a formal announcement of the film in June of this year, with a release date later in the year. According to the crew members, the project will appear on Apple TV+ as a streaming film. At this point, any release beyond streaming on Apple TV+ is not known.

Content has been filmed for this project for some time, going back to the first show of the tour. Cameras were seen set up at the Beacon Theatre in New York for the first show in November 2022. Footage had also been filmed at the lead up to the tour at the October 2022 promo stop in New York. Multiple cameras were also present at the November 2022 show in Dublin, again, filming the entire show. More recently with the residency of 11-nights at the Beacon Theatre, filming continued. Cameras were present for each night of the show. Although most nights there were only two or three cameras present, they were located in different locations capturing different angles each night without being too intrusive to attendees.

Toward the end of the run, more filming was done, additional lighting elements were added to the show, and additional material worked into the show. More cameras started to appear at these shows towards the end, and additional footage was also captured.

On May 3, film director Andrew Dominik was seen with a film crew outside the venue. Bono was filmed as he arrived at the theatre. Bono got out of his vehicle, and went to the fan line up outside the theatre and was filmed interacting with fans in line. There were also cameras seen inside the car in which Bono arrived. Starting with this May 3 show, there are cameras added near the soundboard, which present a blocked view to some seats behind the soundboard. Fans in these seats are moved where there is room to accommodate them elsewhere in the theatre.

On May 8, it is clear that the full production is being filmed at a different level than the earlier nights. There are multiple signs posted about the event being filmed. Additional microphones are spotted on the stage, likely to assist with capturing sound for the film. Unlike other evenings where there were a couple of cameras present each night, on May 8, the final run of the shows, there are cameras everywhere. There are two large cameras set up next to each other at the sound board, one elevated above the level used on other nights. A number of seats behind the soundboard area are taped off and not filled for the show. There is also a camera on the left of the theatre near the front stage, another camera on the left seen in the balcony, and reports of another camera present on the side of the theatre on the right.

Additionally, hand held cameras are being used throughout the theatre on May 8. Fans entering the theatre when doors open are told they will be filmed. Cameras are set up to film people going through the front doors, going through security, and into the venue. The same camera team would later move to filming the merchandise line in the lobby area, filming fans as they looked at the merchandise available. One fan was filmed making a merchandise purchase, and was asked to hold up a “Stories of Surrender” flask emblazoned with a sketch of The Edge for the camera. Hand held cameras were also seen throughout the performance toward the back of the orchestra and balcony areas. A film team is also spotted concert goers leaving the venue, and later at the back of the theatre to capture Bono’s exit.

On May 9, a special session was held at the Beacon Theatre to film additional footage for the film. The full show is not performed, and the focus on this session is on the music used in the show. Throughout the afternoon they do two run-throughs of music from the show (with the exception of “With or Without You”). Fans are asked “where there are opportunities to sing along, take them!” Only brief parts of the story are filmed, mostly the introductions to the songs. The first set features most of the cameras on stage, and the later run through sees the cameras down filming from the audience perspective. At times some songs are filmed multiple times in the first set. The stage setup is not exactly as it’s been on previous nights, and a light wall is set up behind Bono, showing mostly shapes and patterns, although during “Desire” we see dollar signs on the screen. The backing banners used during the regular Beacon shows are not present. At the end of the night, although not planned, Bono does perform “Torna a Surriento” explaining that they plan on filming that song in Naples for the final film.

The final night of filming was at the Teatro San Carlo in Naples, Italy. As Bono told the fans in New York, the focus tonight is on filming the final song, the full show is performed. The venue is the oldest opera house in the world, opened in 1737. Bono sent out a request ahead of the shows to ask attendees to dress in formal wear, “Black tie if you can swing it. Pearls and tiaras welcome. Fancy dress. Dark suits. Somewhere between Amadeus and 007. And yes, it’s your chance to look flash on the big screen.” The show in Naples is the same as the recent Beacon shows, but “Torna a Surriento” is performed twice at the end of the show. The first run through sees a more typical run through of the song, ending with Bono with tears in his eyes. He does the second performance with cameras on stage and near the stage for close up shots. Additional filming was done the prior night during rehearsal for this final performance.

On May 18, the camera crew and director were photographed with the current residents of 10 Cedarwood Road. They did some additional filming inside the home in which Bono grew up for the film. So there is likely to be some additional footage used in the film itself beyond just the performance footage.

The director of Bono’s “Stories of Surrender” film is Andrew Dominik. The director was born in Wellington, New Zealand, and lives in Australia. He’s know for films Chopper (2000), Killing Them Softly (2012), One More Time with Feeling (2016) and Blonde (2022). One More Time with Feeling documents the recording of Skeleton Tree by Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Dominik has also worked with Cave, and other musical acts as a music video director.

Apple TV+ is a streaming service launched by Apple in 2019. The service can be accessed through many Apple devices, and also non-Apple media players (Roku, Google TV, Chromecast), and via web browsers. (To access you will need to have an Apple account, and subscriptions currently cost $6.99 per month in the USA). The date the film will be available has not yet been announced, although we expect an announcement soon, with the film appearing later this year. We’ll update when more information becomes available.

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