Category Archives: paul westerberg

The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 7

Somehow almost a year went by, as I needed to finish up the tax credit paperwork (don’t get me started) for FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS), complete the film, do the sound mix, begin submitting to film festivals, then actually hit the road on the festival circuit. (I could blog about that, but instead watch the amazing indie film OFFICIAL REJECTION, and you’ll learn more than you will ever need to know about film festivals.)

But in August 2009 I posted an ad on Craigslist stating that I was looking for a co-producer. I got one worthwhile response from Jim Leftwich, who not only wanted to learn about production but was a huge fan of The Replacements. We sat down over pizza at Pepe’s and hashed it out. Jim would work the East Coast interview schedule.

I believe Adrian Correia, my cinematographer on FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) had always been on board. I had been turning Adrian on to new bands since hiring him to shoot that last film. Despite no up-front pay, Adrian jumped at the chance to work on CMO.

Sarah, Jan, Jim, Adrian…that was my crew at the start. It would change as we moved along…but for now, everything clicked.

And…yes, no up-front pay. Everyone including myself would own a chunk of the back end. If the film did well, we all did well. I did not want to spent months (or more) looking for investors. I didn’t want to do all this work on another film, and then when it finally sold not see a dime. And luckily a new web startup would help me achieve that goal.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 6

I knew I would need help in the making of this film, specifically in finding the right people to interview, and arranging what would hopefully be a grueling schedule. A good but small and dedicated crew would be essential. Finding the right crew who could understand and would support my vision.

I started with a poster, as having an image, then getting a website up quickly, is more important than I could possibly explain in a short blog entry. It’s like this: if you don’t have a site, you don’t exist. So as soon as I began talking with Hansi, I turned to Sarah Hajtol who designed my FRIENDS (WITH BENEFITS) poster. Not only was she interested, but she asked if she could design the CMO website as part of her thesis. She didn’t have to ask twice.

Then during the summer of 2008 (August 21st, to be precise), I contacted an old friend, Jan Radder. At the age of 15, Jan worked as a production assistant on my film PSYCHOS IN LOVE. You can read his account of that gig on his blog (and hopefully one day in full detail in his memoir). Many years back, Jan moved to Minneapolis, but we’ve always stayed in touch, having music as a common bond. At first I asked him simply to get a photo of the Let It Be house that Sarah might manipulate for the poster.

That poster idea didn’t work, but within a month I wrote: “I want to talk to you as well, as I feel you have a lot to offer on this, if you want to come on board in a co-producer fashion.”

To which Jan replied: “Wow. I’d totally be interested. Let me know what you’re thinking.”

Little did I realize at this point just how important Jan and Sarah would become to the film…

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 5

The last interview of that first day was with Randy Ellis, down at a great old record shop, The Record Collector Store, in Bordentown , NJ. Randy booked the infamous City Gardens in Trenton, NJ. And one show in particular, known on bootlegs as The Late Bob Show, would eventually play a small but entertaining role in the film, as people came forward with very different, very funny, stories about what happened that night.

We conducted three interviews that first day, Saturday, November 21, 2009. Me, cinematographer Adrian Correia, and co-producer Jim Leftwich in my Jeep Liberty. We used a Canon XHA1 as our A-camera, and a Canon HV-20 as our B-camera, everything a two camera shoot, giving me the option to trim a story when necessary. The microphone was an Audio-Technica AT897, on a stand with boom, cabled directly into the XHA1, which itself was on a set of Manfrotto sticks. Adrian hand-held B-cam. Jim took notes. I asked the questions.

Then after what had to be a 12 hour day of shooting and driving, we headed back through the worst traffic I’d ever seen on the Jersey Turnpike. But it didn’t matter. I was already beginning to edit the film in my head.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 4

Jack Rabid. He popped my documentary cherry. I had never interviewed anyone on film before. And honestly it had been over 25 years since I’d interviewed anyone at all. (My past as a music “journalist,” using the word lightly, creeps up.) So well-spoken, he recanted tales of this band that I so loved. This band that had probably saved my life, more than once. I wasn’t alone. There was other intelligent life on this otherwise seemingly barren planet. (Musically barren, at least. And I was in Brooklyn, currently home to the worst rock scene the galaxy’s ever known.) He talked about their first NYC gigs, the first time he heard the song Hootenanny, and concluded (as you can see in the first trailer), “Sure, they were just a band. But weren’t the Rolling Stones just a band?”

And listen, I know from a sales and cultural viewpoint, the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Bob Dylan should stand alone. But they don’t. There’s a fourth member to that elusive group. And here’s why. The Replacements rocked harder than the Stones ever could, they epitomized what rock always was, always would be. They could out fuck-you Mick and company to a laughable degree. Likewise, Paul, Tommy, Bob, and Chris had personalities as distinct as John, Paul, George, and Ringo. And like that band, they could break your heart one minute, then rock your soul the next. And as great as Dylan was with the word-play, Paul Westerberg could beat him at what was seemingly his game any day of the week.

They were just that good. Perhaps this film will help everyone understand that.

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 3

Next day I pitched my way to save the film to Hansi. I don’t know if she bought it completely, but I think she believed in my passion and talent. Or perhaps I was her only hope. I don’t know, never asked. But we started working toward an agreement.

Now for anyone who’s read my earlier blog posts, you know I don’t play well with others. And I am a control freak. I know this about myself. It’s the way I am, the only way I can be about what I create. And I’m not about to change. (I have no desire to.) So I knew I could never co-direct a film with anyone.

So, how to approach this. Though I appreciated Hansi’s original footage, I had different ideas on where the film should go. Her version seemed more light-hearted. Mine, serious. I wanted to make a great testament to the band, their story, their history from that first demo tape through to their final concert in Grant Park, as told through the eyes of those who were there, who followed, who were inspired by, and who befriended them.

It took about a year to get it all rolling. I was finishing up Friends With Benefits, and hitting the film fest circuit with that film. But Hansi and I eventually came to terms, and I would not be using any of her footage in the film.

So, I was starting fresh. With the FWB fest circuit almost over, it was time to test the waters, to see if this crazy idea might work. And in late 2009, we conducted our very first interview. Ten minutes in, I knew we had a film!

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The making of COLOR ME OBSESSED – part 2

It happened like this. Hansi Oppenheimer was making a film about fans of The Replacements called COLOR ME OBSESSED. One evening a few years back now, I received an email from her asking for help. It more or less said she had no way to finish the film, and no rights to the music, so she was probably just going to post a thirty minute version for free online, and be done. Could I think of any way to help save the project?

Now I had always wanted to make a documentary. But I would only do one on a subject about which I was profoundly passionate. I really only have three: animals, new haven brick oven pizza, and rock music, most specifically, The Replacements. But I really didn’t want to do something VH1-ish, y’know “where are they now?” And I could think of no film on an extinct band that was anything more than that. The best music docs followed their subjects around in the here and now. I needed to come up with a unique take.

It didn’t take long.

That night while lying in bed with my wife Kristine, I started thinking how the Mats were Gods in my eyes. And though I don’t believe in God, a lot of people sure seem to. Yet it’s all blind faith, they never see or hear God. “What if I make a documentary where we never see or hear the band?” I spoke out loud to my wife who was reading a health magazine. “What if I give them God-like treatment, and make the viewer believe?” I honestly don’t remember her response. I think at that point I became lost in the possibilities of the myth. It was a crazy idea. And the more I thought about it, the more I loved it.

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Lily Allen’s cover of STRAIGHT TO HELL by the Clash – a review

OK…first off, the 5 stars are for Lily Allen’s cover of STRAIGHT TO HELL.  And so you know where I am coming from.  I am not a huge fan of Ms. Allen.  Don’t really know her music.  Not my cup of tea.  I am however a huge Clash fan.  Saw them live 15 times from their first US gig to their last tour.  I’d rank them as one of the two greatest bands of all time.  (The other is the Replacements.)  Their music to me is sacred.  It should be respected, never covered.  And STRAIGHT TO HELL is one of my three favorite Clash songs.  Having said all that…

 

Ms. Allen cover of STRAIGHT TO HELL on the WAR CHILD PRESENTS HEROES compilation cd is the best song we will hear this year.  She and Mick Jones have taken his and Strummer’s brilliant melody, riff and lyric and somehow (I don’t know how) taken it to a level where few musicians ever get to even see, let alone attain.

 

From the opening da-da-da-da’s which sound so much like Strummer (I wish I knew for certain if they were, or if it was Jones), through to Ms. Allen’s phrasing, which is Billie Holiday-perfect, as are the production and the instrumentation, the song had been reinvented, re-envisioned.

 

And when Ms. Allen hits the bridge and sings “so mamma-san says” and the da-da-da-da’s start up again, I find the goosebumps coming and the tears welling. 

 

This really is the song she was born to sing.  It will make everything else that follows this year seem unimportant and unoriginal. 

 

As for the rest, well honestly I’d give the cd 2 stars out of 5 at best.  What we have are really bad covers of great songs (The Hold Steady, whom I like, doing injustice to ATLANTIC CITY), just misses (The TV On The Radio cover of HEROES is close, as is Beck doing Dylan), a number of what-were-these-people-thinking (really, you never cover the Ramones or Blondie, not because they’re the greatest songs ever written, but because you sound stupid even trying), a few that make you want to hear the originals and how they’re really done (The Kinks and the Costello songs) and the rest is just who-cares?

 

But all that said, listen to the Lilly Allen/Mick Jones track.  And genuflect in the presence of genius.

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