Today I’m launching the first annual Rocks Off Film Festival. Three days of movies about our favorite subject – rock n roll! We’re screening some wicked cool movies. Documentaries about Charles Bradley, The Cockney Rejects, Pentagram, Driving and Cryin and a whole lot more. It’s the only film festival of it’s kind (according to google). Last year on our floating boat office I thought to myself “I wonder if there is a film festival dedicated to movies about music?” So I looked into it and found out there wasn’t one. So I started one. I didn’t have any idea what I was doing, but I thought “What’s the Worst That Could Happen?” and here we are, and it’s all come together!
We are taking over the deliciously derelict Kraine Theater in the East Village. Last night we brought in a beefy sound system and ran a test screening and of course it sounds amazing. The response has been so great that we even added a FREE screening tomorrow afternoon of the 1975 film “Slade in Flame” which the BBS called “the Citizen Kane of rock musicals.” The focus of the fest was to show all new or at least new-ish films. But i wanted to put in one classic. I had thought about screening Rock N Roll High School, but that’s so bad, bad in a good way, but still bad. Plus everyone who I care to be friends with has seen it. But Slade in Flame is criminally under-recognized, as is the band that stars in it, Slade!!! I emailed both the US and UK distributors to try and license the film for a screening but nobody bothered to get back to me – so I just said – forget about you – we’ll do a FREE screening! Hard to argue with that right??
So you wanna come on out and see a film this weekend? Check out the schedule and the trailers and let me know which one you wanna come to and I’ll be happy to comp you and a buddy. Probably.
There’s also a sweet trailer we made for the fest – you can peep it on YouTube here:
I did an interview with New York Magazine’s Bedford and Bowery Blog – they used a few quotes but Im putting the whole thing here for you to see!
These are some amazing films and events you have going on. What made you decide to do a film festival?
I’ve built Rocks Off over the past decade and a half on the founding principle that if I have an idea to do something and I think it’s a good idea, and a bunch of people tell me I’m crazy for even considering it, then I’ve probably got a winner on my hands. And I have t had to get a real job since I started Rocks Off so who’s crazy now?? Rock n Roll history Walking Tours, Party Buses to concerts outside the city – and of course Shows on boats – our Rocks Off Concert Cruise Series this year is celebrating our lucky 13th and busiest season yet! All of those things people told me I was crazy to even attempt. Last summer I noticed that every little ‘burg and ‘burb in the country seems to be having their own film festival – but rarely with any focus. So I thought “I wonder of anyone has done a rock n roll themed film fest that showcase films by and about music and musicians. A few moments of google wizardry later – I found out nobody was doing it and I figured “how hard could it be and what’s the worst that could happen?”
How did you decide on what films to show? What was the curating process like?
We started soliciting submissions last fall and cast a pretty wide net. We had over 60 submissions but to be honest most of the films we are showcasing were ones that my team and I identified as top notch and tracked down. Most of the films we are showcasing are having their NYC premieres which we think is pretty impressive for a first year festival. And not only that but they’re pretty good fucken films too!! My focus was to have a select number of screenings and only pick films I would actually go to the theater and pay to see myself. Quality over quantity was our mantra!
What films or nights are you most excited about? What kind of surprises can we expect?
I’m honestly excited about all the films but the films we selected for opening night were obviously picked for a reason so I’ll start there. Charles Bradley: Soul of America and East End Babylon: the Story of the Cockney Rejects are both phenomenal stories about underdogs – one of an American soul musician and one of one of the original working class pub / punk rock bands from London. Both are extraordinary tales of how dedication and that stick to it attitude even in the face of seemingly bleak outlooks can lead to success on your own terms.
Also Point Break Comes Alive! It’s the classic film Point Break but with a live band onstage who created an all original surf rock soundtrack. Cuz lets face it – the original soundtrack has not aged well and how could the quintessential surf / action movie not have a surf soundtrack?! The guys in Great White Caps did an amazing job creating this score and choreograph the mixing of the score and the dialog and the lighting cues perfectly to fit the film. It really is a site to see and is sort of the crown jewel of our festival because it combines what we know and had done well for 13 years – live music- with our new tradition of presenting music based films.
And yes of course we have some surprise guests in store for the screenings but if we told you… well then…
Will there be any members of the Insane Clown Posse around for the short film fest?
Violent J and Shaggy 2 Dope are constantly present in my heart and in my soul, so they will be there vicariously through me. Whoop muthafuken Whooooooop!
Do you plan to ever attempt screenings on a boat? I think that would be amazing.
Boats are made for a rowdy crowd to be hootin’ and hollerin’ and drankin’. Which doesn’t exactly go too well with film screenings. So maybe Hedwig or Rocky Horror. Or maybe the Warriors with a drinking game tied to it. Though we do hand pick films to be shows on the TV screens on the Half Moon and the Jewel for all of our Concert Cruises.
Who’s the greatest rock n roll band of all time?
I gotta go with Ween here. The vast scope of their output and emotional range of their material is second to none. These guys have mastered the art of genre jumping without ever sounding like they even tried at all, much less tried too hard. And they have no problem singing in racially insensitive accents. Or writing happy circus-like music about AIDS.