Warren Beatty's film Reds may have come out in 1981, but Beatty came across the story of John Reed in the mid-1960s and executive producer and film editor Dede Allen remembers Beatty's mentioning making a film about Reed's life as early as 1966. In fact, the first draft for the film was written in 1969. This is also apparent in the filmed interviews that appear throughout the film featuring men and women referred to only as "The Witnesses", who were even featured in a poster for the film which you can check out below:
These interviews were filmed as early as 1971. It was with the success of his 1978 film Heaven Can Wait that Beatty was finally able to secure funding and that is why it took approximately 15 years to make. Stay tuned!