Gabriela Cowperthwaite ’s film The Friend, which recently premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival, seems to be a moving drama based on a true story. It seems to be so moving, that, as Deadline reports, when approached about licensing two songs for the movie’s soundtrack, Led Zeppelin’s lead singer Robert Plant decided not only to licence the songs but give the producers a steep discount.
The film is based on an article published in “Esquire” in October 2015, which tells a story of Nicole Teague (Dakota Johnson), who was diagnosed with terminal ovarian cancer and the two songs that made her life more bearable were Led Zeppelin’s “Ramble On” and “Going to California.” The story was written by her husband, Matthew Teague (Casey Affleck).
The Friend had Ridley Scott as its executive producer, but was still on an indie production budget and going through the usual Warner/Chappell system of a bid for which, if it is accepted, you have five days to pay up. The original sum for the songs cost around one-third of the film’s whole budget. So Scott decided to write a personal letter to the band’s three surviving members, so did Cowperthwaite and the film’s other three producers.
Plant was one of the three members that watched the film’s cut and wrote back that, “while the film was a tough one to sit through, it was beautiful and strong.” Deadline adds that he “congratulated the filmmakers and added he felt that the positioning of the two songs was poignant, sensitive and beautiful.” The band decided to reduce the licensing price, but the production team still had to up the music budget a bit.
Waiting on a reply, the production team prepared a ‘Plan B’ version, that didn’t include Zeppelin songs, but the agreement from the band came in, a week before its premiere.