Hollywood director and writer Matthew Miele has a huge focus on telling stories about the old New York. His previous work consists of Crazy About Tiffany’s and Scatter Ashes at Bergdorf. His upcoming film, Always at the Carlyle, is a documentary about the famous and luxurious Carlyle Hotel on Madison Avenue. The film focuses on the long discretion that the hotel is famous for and the secrecy surrounding what has occurred. Miele talks with ATM about his foundation along with the challenges and fun moments associated with Always at the Carlyle.
MM: You might be curious about old New York, what happened in the 20th century, and what went on with people here. Also, the fascination with how things used to represent. People who watch this film will enjoy the experience.
ATM: Have you ever stayed at this hotel? If so, then describe your experiences?
MM: I had not stayed before doing the film. It was doing filming when I got to stay at the hotel. It was a treat. I already became attracted to the film because of the eating establishments already there. I had eaten here on occasions. There was a really wonderful aspect of the atmosphere. This is a great question. I filmed at nights and on the weekends. They really wanted me to gain the full experience. It was unforgettable.
ATM: When did you start the groundwork for this film?
MM: Four years ago. It built up to telling the story. I am a real fan of iconic New York and the old world. I really wanted to dive into telling some stories in documentary style. I wanted to ease and allow myself to understand.
ATM: How does this film shape American culture?
MM: The film is a mirror of what the Carlyle captures. The Carlyle goes back to a time where things were proper and jazzy. There is a notion of nostalgia when you think of New York as an ethnic place. You realize that the Roaring 20s were the Roaring 20s for a reason. At the end of this decade, this hotel became the place where things happened, which included parties. This held on to the cabaret vibe. The Gentleman’s bar was the great window where you could go listen to great jazz. This is an idea from the 40s and 50s that is still an opportunity today.
ATM: Where in the film did you receive the best inspiration?
MM: The story about the Royals coming. I heard they were coming. Only four people knew in the hotel. At this time, Prince Williams had never been to New York. He was in his 30s. Williams wanted to come with this wife. His mother Diana and other Royals had stayed here before. Williams wanted to stay in his position. I was blown away and driven because there is a newer generation with a chance to stay at a more chic and modern hotel. They still wanted to soak in the tradition and what people want to experience. This generational shift is what keeps it going. This film helps to show that it is generational.
ATM: Why do you feel you were the right director to facilitate the making of this film?
MM: I am not a director that is speaking to one new idea to the other. I am also not a director that tells incomplete stories. I spent four years filming this and preparing this story. Through my career, I have been concentrating on iconic New York. There are only a few documentaries emerging about old New York. I feel it is my duty to pass this information down to the newer generations. You have to respect what is happening and understand how it will read.
ATM: What were your biggest challenges with this documentary?
MM: Breaking through the discretionary wall of the hotel. I stuck around longer so to pry things out of them. This was originally hard to do. I became a familiar face coming a few times a week.
I got to know the staff and got through this hurdle. I wanted to make sure every interview was done at the hotel.
ATM: How did you get celebrities like Bill Murray, George Clooney, and Naomi Campbell to be a part of this documentary?
MM: Bill Murray – They all came from different ways. We knew him as he was checking out of the hotel. We saw him walk through and overheard the story we were telling. Murray started talking while we were filming.
George Clooney – I had previously seen him. Also, I was introduced to him by the supervisor. He is everyone’s favorite guest in the hotel. We were nervous about his answer being yes because there might not have been a movie. When Clooney said yes it felt like a sigh of relief. He is a very hard guy to schedule and a private person.
Naomi Campbell – She stays here religiously when in New York. Campbell loves to stay here during the Met Gala. She is friends with the faculty. Campbell agreed to do it. We wanted to hear the perspective of this hotel through the eyes of a woman.
Miele’s film about the Carylye, the famed hotel on Madison Ave located in New York has so much history. Important people from Marilyn Monroe to the Royal Family have stayed there. During filming, Miele stayed in the same room as Princess Diana. The view of this room fit the city’s romanticism at night. Through 150 interviews, Miele compressed the film down to the best information to depict the hotel.
Always at the Carlyle releases on Friday, May 11, 2018. Throughout the month it will release in other cities around America.