The wonderful summer-long Amoeba's Monday Movies @ Space15Twenty in Hollywood (the weekly free outdoor screenings of music-related films curated by Amoeba Music) ends tonight with a screening of the highly recommended Anvil! The Story of Anvil. If you have to miss the screening, the DVD of this underdog story about endearing Canadian metal band Anvil comes out next week, October 6th, on DVD, and will be available at Amoeba Music. Last Monday evening there was another Amoeba-curated screening of the film up in the Bay Area at Elis Mile High Club.
I just loved this film so much since it is totally unlike your typical, run of the mill music documentary. LA Weekly summed it up pretty well when they dubbed it "Hilarious and achingly touching." In fact, it is so touching and personal, yet always respectful of its subjects, the two lifelong metalhead buddies Robb Reiner and Steve "Lips" Kudlow, that you instantly connect and feel watching it that it has to have been made by someone whom the band members really, truly trusted and felt totally comfortable around.
Not surprisingly then, Sacha Gervasi, the director of the documentary, was once a roadie for the band. And for this riveting documentary he went out on the road again with Anvil, a band who looked all set to make it big in the 80's metal world but somehow never did. He's made a film that will remind you of Spinal Tap except that it is real, and more importantly, reverential. Last week I caught up with the film's director to ask him about this refreshingly unique music documentary.
Amoeblog: I love your film, including how it flows so naturally and seems to have taken on a life or direction of its own. Did the film turn out differently than maybe what you had initially expected?
Sascha Gervasi: While there was no way to predict what events would transpire, I knew from the beginning that at its heart this movie would be about two best friends doing whatever it takes to follow their dream. So in one sense I had no idea how the film would turn out, but on the other hand I always
knew what to expect.
Amoeblog: Were you surprised at the overwhelmingly positive reaction to the film, especially considering that you were dealing with subjects that few knew of or remembered?
Sascha Gervasi: I always felt that the message the guys had to share was so strong and universal that viewers would react positively, but I never could have guessed just what level that reaction would reach. We've really been fortunate that people want to share this movie with their friends and spread the Anvil story!
Amoeblog: How was it dealing with all of those moments of tension? Did it ever endanger the film or did it ultimately bring you and your subjects closer?
Sascha Gervasi: The amazing thing about Lips and Robb is that they were able to completely forget the cameras were even there. They were never trying to "act" for the camera, which is what allowed us to capture those really intimate moments. Those are the moments that you pray for as a filmmaker.
Amoeblog: What did you learn or gain from making this film?
Sascha Gervasi: The story and struggle of putting this film together and getting it to audiences was not unlike Anvil's own struggle to have their music heard. Ultimately I realized the importance of fighting for what you believe in, no matter what the cost.
Amoeblog: There are obvious parallels to Spinal Tap -- yet the film never becomes like a portrayal of a joke. How in post production/editing did you ensure that the film always maintains its gut-wrenchingly tragic yet respectful tone? What was the key?
Sascha Gervasi: I was up front with the guys from the very beginning that people were going to think they were funny -- Lips used to wear a bondage harness on stage and the drummer's name is Robb Reiner! But the way you see the guys in the movie is exactly the way they are in real life. Nothing was put on and that's what allowed the film to feel so honest.
Amoeblog: How grateful are the members of the band to you for altering their career?
Sascha Gervasi: I think the film has given a lot of people the opportunity to hear Anvil for the first time. And a lot of people have responded by buying Anvil albums and going to Anvil shows. I think the band is really enjoying where everything is headed!
Amoeblog: Any plans to make another music themed documentary?
Sascha Gervasi: Not if Tiziana is managing the tour.
-------Anvil! The Story of Anvil screens this evening at 8pm in the courtyard of Space15Twenty at 1520 N. Cahuenga Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90028, just up the street from Amoeba Hollywood. Like all the Amoeba's Monday Movies @ Space15Twenty, this final one in the 2009 series is free. For more info click here.