Why did you make this film?
I'd been making photographs backstage of bands I'd known or met, trying to make these grandiose pictures, snapshots, pix of real life on the road... then I'd blow up the photos to larger than life, making these church-worthy altars, saints, of those that bring us the music and the real lives that do it. I called the exhibit Apostles of Hustle.Then I met and photographed (for Magnet) The High Strung; I saw them perform, and realized that their drive, energy and humor, in all the struggle, needed to have a film made.
Is it because you secretly always wished you were a touring rock star?
Though I do love to travel, and have been to 49 US states in car, I wouldn't care to perform every night.
Was there a point (how often) that you felt like giving up and
Never. I actually kicked myself for missing things when the camera was off or if I had to come back to NYC for paying work.
You're a photographer by trade and this your first feature... in
order, is making a movie mainly: a) scary b) fun c) terrible d)
A) Scary: The most frightening thing is worry about being boring. I love this story, but can I tell it? I'm used to telling stories one still picture at time, which lets the viewer read the story from one frozen shot. Here, you have time, sound, a more dimensional version of documenting, as all the elements are constantly in flux. I got my training shooting street photos and Stephen Shore taught me to imagine my eyes to the lens to my head the movie camera, and my assignment was to take the cinema stills, the 8x10 glossies, to advertise the movie of my day... so I learned to see the world moving one frame at a time so I could pick the ones I want, and start to foresee the pictures coming as everything moves... with the motion camera, it is always rolling. The photo camera would go down after the shot... but when is the motion shot, the documentary motion shot, done?
C) Terrible: The worst was trying not to be too much of a pest to the guys, the world, but still getting the shots for the story that I wanted. Luckily the guys in the band were game and understood, trusted what I was doing. I'd shown them a short piece on the road, showing them in embarrassing moments with their parents, etc, and they dug it.
D) Transcendent, yes, and it makes me want to make more. The shooting lets me look and analyze all that happens in front of me more deeply, and the editing takes me back to that place and helps me understand what I was reacting to in the first place.
Why the High Strung?
The High Strung are an all-the-way gang. They don't care if they play to 2 or to 200 people, they are in for the love of rock and roll, the music. In this they are transcendent, and make me feel that in the appreciation of the music, of life, of work and love of those three. And more. They are a positive force on the earth that I wanted to celebrate.
Would you ever make another rock documentary?
I'd make another doc if the subject comes to me, and I have the time and resources that were so generously donated to me to make this one...
Watch Me Sustain: The High Strung Film, screens at MonkeyTown on Saturday, 4pm. The $8 cover includes a copy of the bands new record, Ode to the Inverse of the Dude.