Don't Knock The Rock film fest creator Allison Anders has been celebrating rock n' roll, punk, pop and folk in film with DKTR events since 2003, but music has always played a major role in her own films (Mi Vida Loca, Border Radio, Sugartown) as well. In this week's Nightranger, we cover a DKTR co-sponsored event (the Destroy All Movies screenings at the Silent Movie Theatre; more on this here tomorrow) and learned that Anders has a new music-themed project in the works once again. Titled Strutter, she says, the movie will complete she and Kurt Voss' “Border Radio trilogy” featuring young LA musicians and donated locations. There's a Kickstarter drive to raise production funds and pledges can score hand-picked gift bags by Duran Duran's John Taylor, Sonic Youth, Ethan Coen, Edgar Wright, Dinosaur Jr. and more. Here, more from Anders about the new project.
Your films always feel authentic thanks to your use of real people–musicians, gang members, and so on. Does this film use actors who are musicians in real life?
Dante White Aliano is in three LA bands–most notably Dante vs. Zombies and also Swahili Blonde and Starlite Desperation. Dante plays Damon in the film, a sort of cerebral musician, ala Jarvis Cocker. Flannery Lunsford has a band called Brandy Knights. He plays Brett, an upcoming musician whose idol was Damon, until Damon stole the affections of his girlfriend Justine–Ericka Clevenger who is an actress/model who also sings beautifully. Craig Stark, who was in our first of the trilogy Border Radio in 1988, has a band called the Bullfighters. He plays the musician father of Brett. Also of the vets–Terry Graham, the former Gun Club/Bags drummer, is cast as one of the other paternal figures who finds himself accidentally taking over drums in Brett's band when his kid falls out.
My sister Luanna Anders from Border Radio plays Brett's mom, and filmmaker/actress Elyse Hollander plays Reggie, the girl who helps Brett to love again. We are hoping for lots of musician cameos too–I already asked J Mascis! Fingers crossed! And of course more local LA musicians.
What inspired the story/script for this one–any real rockers or situations?
Kurt is a huge Britpop fan and like many people he's always been really intrigued–almost smitten–with the famed Britpop triangle of Brett Suede, Justine Elastica, and Damon Blur, so we used that as a jumping off point to create our own LA music version. It's not about that famous triangle, but it inspired us–there's something heart-wrenching about it. Young musicians, all with their dreams for their bands, and the euphoria of being in a scene, on top, coupled up–and then the heartbreak. In that triangle no one was made out to be a jerk, which we like so much. But yet it was such a story, such a buzz! I was living in London when Blur's 13 record came out, post his break-up with Justine, and it was just everywhere in the press–that the record reflected the break-up. So yes, we take great inspiration from that love triangle!
Did you always envision the first two as a trilogy or come up with that later?
We never saw it as a trilogy until we made Sugar Town, which was completely inspired by re-connecting to Border Radio. And at the point, we thought we had a series, and of course we co-wrote and co-directed both movies as we will this one. When we first started talking about making Strutter, it felt right as the film we'd been waiting for to complete the Border Radio trilogy.
What do you think about Kickstarter as a way to get support?
We are loving Kickstarter. I had used it before as a fundraising tool for Don't Knock The Rock and we were very successful and it was wonderful because each year vendors (Amoeba, Criterion Collection, Blood Is The New Black and Globe Shoes) would donate stuff to us which we would give to the filmmakers and musicians, but when we launched on Kickstarter we could also offer those products as rewards to people who pledged money to our project. Doing it this time to raise our production and post funds has been even more rewarding. And, here's why–the worst part of the process for most artists trying to make their stuff is raising the funds to do it. They have to be thrown out of the creative process to do the opposite of creative–convincing someone with money that it's worthy, and not only having to sell them on it, but having to sell them on your vision on it, too. And then praying they leave you alone and let you do it. Most filmmakers and musicians suck at this.
But with community funding, all that anxiety is over–you have people pledging because they support you and love what you're doing and they want to see it happen, and in exchange they get something cool. And the great thing is that you don't have to leave your creative space to raise your funds–in fact, the more creative you are with your materials and your rewards, the better you're likely to do. And the best part of all: you get to make what you want 100% on your own terms. I love it–I'm a believer! And it's been so heart-warming to see the support from friends who have pledged and from friends who donated stuff for rewards: Quentin Tarantino, Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr, Ethan Coen, Edgar Wright, Crafty Chica Kathy Murillo, Lucas Salon in Echo Park, Feral House Books, Luxuria Music–which is an awesome reward! You get your own 2 hours on air to play whatever you want! And all our friends who sponsor Don't Knock The Rock kicked in for this Kickstarter project too. We start shooting–weekends–in February. See, if you were on someone else's dime, you couldn't say, “We're only shooting on the weekends.” But we all have day jobs!
See one of Strutter's stars rocking out on stage when Dante vs. Zombies performs at the Echo–at the last show of the Bad Apples' residency–this Monday., Nov. 29. Learn more about the film, cool pledge gifts and donation amounts here. See Nightranger's guide to LA bandom on film (which includes Anders' Sugartown) here.