"I've had several meetings with Jay-Z," he says, "but the first time we interviewed him on camera was yesterday."
The idea is to get as much in the can as possible and sort it out later.
"We're really here covering the experience from as many perspectives as we can gain," he says. "The fans, the vendors, the construction crews, the mayor's office and, of course, the artists."
Things have happened so quickly, that going in, Howard still wasn't sure what kind of access he would have to the performers.
"I'm really fascinated to talk to some of the artists who are not American," he says, referring to acts like the Hives (Swedish), Miike Snow (also Swedish) and Afrojack (Dutch). "I'm eager not only to hear their music but also to hear what Made in America means to them."
Howard, known for traditional Hollywood fare like Cocoon and The Da Vinci Code, seems an unusual choice to film an avant garde music festival. He's the first to admit, "I don't get to very many concerts."
That's why he's teamed with Radical Media, which have made films with everyone from Paul Simon to Metallica.
"As documentarians, we always try to capture the flavor of our location. Philly makes an ideal 'character,' " says Jon Kamen, Radical's CEO, via e-mail. "This city has it all here: a community with its own identity and residents who are passionate about their city and the arts."
Howard likes the setting as well. "It's not an accident that Philadelphia was chosen," he says. "Jay-Z had many, many options but he loves the audience here and he loves what Philadelphia stands for."
And as crazy as this Labor Day weekend may get, Howard thinks this is an ideal way to celebrate it.
"This is what we do in America," he says. "We create events. We mix creativity and commerce. It's very much an enterprise that is thematically centered in Jay-Z's mind."
Contact David Hiltbrand at 215-854-4552 or firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow on Twitter @daveondemand_tv.