Freda Kelly was the unknown soldier in the Beatles’ rise to infamy, working as their secretary from the time she turned 17. Her tasks were menial at a glance, filling her time mostly by answering letters for the band’s official fan club. But where there’s guts there’s glory for Kelly, whose story is finally being told in a new documentary, Good Ol’ Freda, that’s currently screening at South by Southwest’s Film Festival.
The documentary reveals a few little titbits about the world’s most publicized band, like how she went the extra mile to help bring fans closer to the band at the height of Beatle mania.
Like when she used to send them locks of their hair.
Anyone lucky enough to see the film can apparently source it there, but for those of us not currently the Austin, Texas festival, Buzzfeed caught up with director Ryan White and Producer Kathy McCabe to talk shop.
“It wasn’t [a violation of privacy] for her,” said McCabe. “It was for the fans, and that’s what she was trying to do. Whatever the fans requests were — whether it was a piece of a shirt, or hair, or bubblegum — she would try to make that happen for them, because she was a fan too and she understood these girls who were asking.”
White continues, explaining that the Beatles were in on it. “They had to chew the gum and stick it on the page. That’s what I love most about this story,” he says. “It’s a complete snapshot of a time that might have only existed once and definitely will never exist again. I think Freda was at the forefront of that.”
Born off of Kickstarter, Ringo Starr is the only Beatles member currently featured in the film. That said, you can probably still expect to see it on digital video and home formats if not in theatres sometimes this year, even if Paul McCartney doesn’t join up. As White says, “it’s a solid film without him.”