It was a ten-year journey for reknowned filmmaker Stanley Nelson to bring his latest story to the screen, and the reception to Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool has been what he describes as a highlight of his 30 years making films. Since its premiere at Sundance last year, the film has grossed more than $1 million worldwide, with fans from all over the world being touched by his story. WGBH recently hosted a Reddit AMA with Nelson and the award-winning filmmaker did not disappoint. Here are some highlights of the discussion prior to the premiere of his film on WGBH 2.

Stanley Nelson
Daviston D. Jeffers

herself01: Two questions: what’s your favorite thing about Miles Davis? And can you talk about Firelight and why you started it?

Nelson: The beautiful breadth of Miles Davis' music. There's so much there. There's so many different styles. And they are all new and innovative. He's not copying anybody. 35-40 years of recordings that are all of the highest quality but they are all different from each other.

I was working for years as an independent producer. Firelight had a little more structure. I started it with my wife - Marcia Smith. It was to get more of a foundation for my work and more support as well.

[RELATED: Everything You Should Know About Filmmaker Stanley Nelson and Firelight Media]

rtokanel: What was the most surprising thing you learned about Miles Davis while researching for the film?

Nelson: I think there was so much that was surprising - one thing was how important the women were in his life. And we know that he was in abusive relationships but it also became clear just how important each of them were to him not solely on romantic terms, but in the creation of his music. And that comes across in the film.

fotli3146: Really impressive.

I see you interviewed many people for this documentary, and they all seem very relaxed, at ease, and collaborative. What do you personally do in order to have a good interview? Do you warm up or prep the person in any way, days or moments in advance? Any tricks you want to share?

thank you

Nelson: We try to have someone do a pre-interview of the subject - usually it's the co-producer of the film, and they write extensive notes. Especially putting into quotes anything the person says that's really great, and writes out Q's based on that. And then I interview people, talk a bit about myself and tell them a personal story to give them a bit of my myself, so it doesn’t feel like I'm just taking from them. Other than that, we just try to have a conversation, tell jokes, anything to have a relaxed feel. I think it's important to listen to what people say, stay in the moment, and not just focus on the next question.

Zucchero performing with Miles Davis.
Courtesy of Wrasse Records

bobbyfame: Thank you for making this film, just watched the trailer, can't wait to see the whole thing.

What's your personal favourite period of Miles' career?

Nelson: Thank you! When making the film I listened to Miles pretty exclusively for about two years, so I listened to a lot of different periods of Miles, but I really loved the first quintet and the second quintet. I have a new appreciation for "Elevator to the Gallows," which is also great. But I also listened to a lot of the electric Miles.

Read the complete AMA on the WGBH Reddit account, and check out our collection of AMA Recaps.

EXTRA: Stanley Nelson Talks About Miles Davis