Right now, there are a couple of Michael Jackson movies firing up MJ fans in 2017 such as the Lifetime movie Finding Neverland and The Ultimate Icon from Biography.
Released on May 29, The Ultimate Icon was a huge hit with Michael Jackson fans, and this is especially true since MJ was not partial to interviews throughout his career.
Despite attempts of biopics to remember MJ or show some of his history, there is also one Michael Jackson film locked in a vault that shows the true unguarded Michael Jackson in 1982 — and the film has not even been developed in the past 35 years.
Unlike grainy home movies or extra footage found behind-the-scenes of making videos, this film of Michael Jackson is likely lengthy and has insights into his life that few fans may have been exposed to.
As if that was not enough, there is also a chance that the same person has another film with Michael Jackson in it that also has not been developed that includes the Jackson 5.
The photographer that took both of the films was the legendary Norman Seeff, and he took photos of the Jackson 5 in 1976. Norman Seeff also took photos of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson in 1982.
In a recent interview on 60 Minutes on CBS, Norman Seeff said this film of Michael Jackson or the Jackson 5 is not an exception since he filmed all of his photography sessions with creative people, and the one of Michael Jackson is just one of hundreds.
While Michael Jackson fans might want to see their favorite entertainer just before his December 1982 “Billie Jean” success, this might not be an immediate possibility. For example, Norman Seeff said in his 60 Minutes interview that aired on April 30, that he would need an estimated $500,000 to successfully recover all of the films he made while photographing some of America’s biggest legends.
Oddly, there are no current online crowdfunding websites that have been created to help Norman Seeff develop his massive film archive.
In addition to having value to fans, there is also archival value to the film. For instance, in 2013, the 1982 photo of Diana Ross and Michael Jackson by Norman Seeff was in a collection called “Photographs by Norman Seeff: The Lost Archive” that was auctioned by Christie’s for an estimated $5,000 to $7,000.
There are also several intriguing leaks from Norman Seeff about what might be on the undeveloped Michael Jackson film. For example, in 2013, MTV interviewed Norman Seeff, and he said the following about photographing Diana Ross and Michael Jackson (who worked on The Wiz together in 1977) in Los Angeles in 1982.
“Diana asked for this shoot and what really struck me with this session was the tender relationship between Diana and Michael. I’d worked with Michael before and found him to be very shy and quiet. Shooting with Diana, though, he was clearly more comfortable and open with her there. It was really adorable to see what happened between them.”
This is also not the first time that the Norman Seeff archive has been covered. For example, in 2013, Vanity Fair pointed out Norman Seeff had this film archive, but he was not yet having many developed.
Since that time, Norman Seeff has been putting in hard work required to develop the film and put it into a digital format. On April 30, Norman Seeff did an extensive interview with CBS on 60 Minutes, and he revealed that his vault films about Michael Jackson and others would cost about $500,000 to finish developing.
In addition to Michael Jackson and Diana Ross, Norman Seeff has taken iconic photos of Ray Charles, Steve Jobs, and John Travolta. One other factor that has not been discussed is whether or not Norman Seeff has film footage of the Jackson 5.
According to the fan-produced website MJ World, Norman Seeff photographed the Jackson 5 and also filmed that session with the Jackson 5, but Seeff did not clarify if he still had the footage in his vault.
Despite this, if the film presents the Michael Jackson Norman Seeff has described in interviews, fans will likely enjoy seeing the Jackson 5 photography session film.
About photographing the Jackson 5 in 1976, Norman Seeff said the following about Michael Jackson.
“Michael was shy, shy, shy, shy. Everyone else was articulate, but Michael hardly said a word. I realized that, in such a gentle way, I needed to engage him. I think that’s just a sweet little moment where he opened up. They ended up actually singing and performing for a crowd of kids walking by the studio.”
It should also be noted that the timing for Norman Seeff’s iconic photos of the Jackson 5 happened at a major turning point in their career as a band.
According to Albumism, when the Jackson 5 left Motown Records on June 30, 1975, their next album was recorded at Sigma Sound Studios in Philadelphia in June 1976 for Epic and Philadelphia International Records (PIR).
About Norman Seeff’s contribution to the photography for their 1976 album, The Jacksons, Albumism stated the following.
“[Y]ou can’t help but be swept up in the lighthearted, nostalgic fun of the album’s artwork, in which revered photographer and filmmaker Norman Seeff shot portraits of the group. On the front cover, the five Jackson men stand tall and proud, smiling cheek to cheek, with an aqua-colored background behind them. Their perfectly round afros and casual attire shine with a warm, mid-1970’s glow. In the portraits, you can feel the true ‘brotherly love’ that the Jacksons had for one another.”
In other words, if Michael Jackson fans are tired of seeing Finding Neverland or The Ultimate Icon impersonators, the future might have one and possibly two previously unseen films that include a truly unguarded Michael Jackson.
Obviously, Norman Seeff was essential at helping Michael Jackson through turning points in his career, and it would not be hard to believe that Seeff’s photos might end up in a future movie about Michael Jackson’s iconic status.
Nevertheless, the next member of the Jackson family that will appear on film will probably be Michael Jackson’s daughter. As previously reported by the Inquisitr, Michael Jackson’s daughter, Paris Jackson, will also be in a growing number of film roles. However, unlike her father, Michael Jackson, Paris Jackson is not shunning interviews and is very camera-friendly.
All of the films that Norman Seeff has developed so far are archived on his personal website.
[Feature Image by Gary Merrin/Getty Images]