Now I had tried indiegogo.com before for another project. It’s a place where you put your project online, and seek backers. NOT investors. Backers. People who donate money to your film in return for a dvd, a poster, an associate producer credit, a day on set, a role as an extra, anything you can think of really. But unlike investors, they do not own any part of your finished film. They own no part of the profits. They will never be paid back. And likewise you do not have to register with state banking commissions, you do not need a securities lawyer. (Filmmakers, if you’re looking for investors, be careful and check with the laws of individual state. Fines are not fun.) If you can find people who believe in your project this is very much the way to go. But to be honest, I had no luck with indiegogo, and I think most people who tried them at the start were in the same boat. Checking their site now, they seem to have completely changed format, basically copying the much more successful KickStarter.com.
When I first put up COLOR ME OBSESSED on KickStarter back in October 2009, it was mostly an exclusive club. You needed either an invite from one of the people who had projects on the site, or from one of the site’s founders. So I sent said founders an email, explaining who I was, and what I was making, and within a few days received an invite to make CMO a KickStarter project.
You can see the original CMO KickStarter page here, including the listing of what I was offering backers at what price. As you can see it proved tremendously successful. And I knew that when time came to find Mats fans outside of the tri-state area in which I resided, I be able to pack up my crew and go.
As an aside, I can’t say enough great things about KickStater. Everything about it is professional, well thought out, and easy to use. They truly have some amazing projects, and have helped many artists like myself achieve goals which might have otherwise been out of reach. KickStarter rocks!
Filed under alternative rock, directing, director's commentary, film commission, film festivals, filmmaking, independent film, indie, indiegogo, kickstarter, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movie, movies, new haven, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, rock n roll, rockumentary, the replacements
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.
Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, film commission, film festivals, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, jan radder, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movie, movies, music, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, the replacements
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…
Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, friends with benefits, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, jan radder, let it be, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movie, movies, music, paul westerberg, psychos in love, punk, punk rock, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, sarah hajtol, the replacements, thoughts
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.
Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movies, paul westerberg, punk, punk rock, replacements, rockumentary
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.
Filed under alternative rock, beatles, big takeover magazine, bob dylan, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, indie, jack rabid, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, movie, movies, paul westerberg, punk, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, rolling stones, thoughts
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!
Filed under alternative rock, directing, documentaries, filmmaking, gorman bechard, independent film, low budget films, low budget movies, minneapolis, paul westerberg, replacements, rock n roll, rockumentary, thoughts
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.