Jeremy Peter Marre was born in London on Oct. 7, 1943. His father, Ivan Marre, was a dermatologist; his mother, born Olga Shlain, was a homemaker. He earned a bachelor of laws degree from University College London, but while preparing to become a barrister he decided that his real interests were film and music.
He studied filmmaking at the Royal College of Art and at Slade School of Fine Art at the University of London. He was working in film production when he got his first chance to direct: a film about British cars, financed by Shell Oil and the British government. He began proposing his own television projects, and bought the name and company registration of the defunct Harcourt Films, under which he would release all his work.
In the mid-1970s, as Caribbean immigration was changing London’s music, night life and politics, Mr. Marre made his first music film, about British reggae. He went on to visit Jamaica, reggae’s home, in 1977.
“I wanted to show the music as a dynamic political force that reflected the history, politics and aspirations of the island,” he said in a 2001 interview. The resulting film, “Roots Rock Reggae,” featured Bob Marley, Jimmy Cliff and other leading reggae performers, as well as glimpses of slums and riots.
“Roots Rock Reggae” drew an unexpectedly large audience, leading to “Beats of the Heart.” Further episodes took place in China, Nigeria, Yugoslavia and Thailand, and on the Texas-Mexico border, as Mr. Marre gained access to public performances, private rituals, parties and homes.