Monthly Archives: July 2011

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 31 (I NEVER WANTED MUSIC!)

A perfectly over-rated example of the rock doc genre is the Ramones flick END OF THE CENTURY. Yes, it’s better that the average VH1 special. But not by that much. In every frame you know that Joey is already passed onto the other side. Had the filmmaker begun the project two years earlier, I wouldn’t be making this criticism. But the film feels wrong to me. As do most rock docs made after a band is longer with us (for whatever reason). Whether that band be X, the Beatles, or anyone in between. Something is missing.

Which is why I never (“NEVER!” I screamed) wanted for a moment to give my favorite band of all time such treatment. I truly believe that any “traditional” doc on The Replacements will play like one of these VH1 specials. So, when the opportunity to make this film fell into my lap, I knew I had to come up with something as daring, as unique as my subject. That fuck-you to tradition that The Replacements so deserved.

I knew some would have issue with my approach. That, like the band at so many junctures in their career, I risked falling flat on my face. But, and anyone who knows my career knows this to be true, is was a risk I was more than willing to take.

What probably surprises me most is that some people insist I’m lying. That I couldn’t afford the rights to the Mats music. I have to think those people just can’t comprehend risk taking, or doing something different. They’re so caught up in tradition, they see the world through blinders and are unable to accept originality. How they ever became Mats fans is beyond me. Perhaps they grew jaded and crusty as they got old. Or perhaps they’re just jealous that it worked. As I know it does. As the dozens of IMDB reviews from people who’s seen the film at festivals have confirmed. Many of whom who entered with their arms folded against my no-music nuttiness, only to leave with a satisfied grin plastered to their face. Originality can do that. It can make you feel alive again. (If you give it a chance.) Sort of like The Replacements did the first time we all heard them.

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Filed under directing, documentaries, filmmaking, independent film, indie rock, rock n roll, rockumentary, the replacements

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 30

When CMO took on a life of its own, and honestly pushed every other project (ONE NIGHT STAND, and my new novel NOT SO PRETTY especially) aside, I started over-dosing on rock documentaries, or rockumentaries, if you will. There were many that I love:

I AM TRYING TO BREAK YOUR HEART, A FILM ABOUT WILCO is amazing because filmmaker Sam Jones is the luckiest sonofabitch on the planet. Not only did he get to make a doc on Wilco, he witnessed them recording one of their most acclaimed albums, the firing of one of their founding members, them being dropped by their label, then being resigned by another label (and payed three times the advance) owned by the same parent company. Seriously, there’s so much amazing conflict that you half expect Jeff Tweedy to discover a cure for cancer during the recording of Heavy Metal Drummer. Shot in glorious black and white, the film is perfect in almost every aspect. I love this movie.

THE DEVIL AND DANIEL JOHNSTON is another masterpiece. And why? Because filmmaker Jeff Feuerzeig had access to Johnston’s life in such extreme detail, nothing was missing. How could it be, Johnston recorded seemingly his every thought. This is of course more than a rock doc, it’s about mental illness and the power of art. It is a brilliant piece of filmmaking.

ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL is yet another. It’s the real life SPINAL TAP, a true story of never letting go of the rock dream…no matter what. And it even has sort of a happy ending.

I bring up these three films for a reason: the access the filmmakers had to the band/musicians in question. They were all present, offering almost disturbing insight into their creative prosesses. These to me are the only sort of rock docs that work. Otherwise, the films play like a VH1 Where-Are-They-Now? Special. And not that there’s anything wrong with those specials. They’re fine for what they are: a fun look back at a band/musician we loved. But that’s all they are. They are NOT, nor will they ever be, FILMS.

Yes, children “FILM” is a sacred word.

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Filed under anvil, daniel johnston, documentaries, filmmaking, rockumentary, the replacements, wilco