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Fast Foreword: The Editor's Column, May 2004

By Tom White

Dear Readers,

There are documentaries about music and those who create it; there are documentaries with music as a driving force; and there are documentaries with no music at all, but are nonetheless musical in their structure. 

Three documentaries coming out this spring focus as much on the creative process as on the fame and fortune it might bring—and the repercussions of that fame and fortune. DIG!, Ondi Tominer's Sundance Grand Jury Prize award-winner, follows over the course of seven years the internal conflicts and struggles of two rising bands—the Dandy Warhols and Brian Jonestown Massacre—as they negotiate the tricky causeways of artistic growth and commercial success. Metallica: Some Kind of Monster, from Joe Berliner and Bruce Sinofsky, tracks a far more established band—the eponymous Metallica—as it deals with similar issues, but on a more middle-aged, arena-sized scale. Kathy McDonald talks to both sets of filmmakers  about the process of making these two films.

Rodney Bingenheimer, the subject of Mayor of the Sunset Strip, has been on the forefront of the rock 'n' roll music scene for four decades—most of them as a DJ at Los Angeles' legendary KROQ. But what has driven Bingenheimer as much as the music has been the celebrity rock stars whom he continues to pursue with the fervor of a teenager. Director George Hickenlooper, who had never made a music doc or had a burning interest in pop music, found an intriguing subject in Bingenheimer, one as iconic and totemic as the rock stars he nurtured and fawned over. ID's own Tomm Carroll talks to both the director and his subject about Western culture's timeless fascination with fame.

One of the more prominent figures in docs about music-making was Charlotte Zwerin, who passed away in January. Zwerin grew up with music, attended jazz clubs in her native Detroit and was married to a jazz critic. Her passion for music bursts through not just with the docs she helped to make, but also in the keen sense of timing, rhythm and pacing that she evinced in her own films. We caught up with a few individuals who knew her best to share their memories of her as a person and as an artist.

For many documentaries, the score is an essential component to driving the narrative and making an emotional difference. Laura Almo reports from a panel at the 2004 Sundance Film Festival that featured directors and composers discussing how they worked together. Finally, before you embark on the musical landscape for your documentary, you might want to consult with a music supervisor to lay out the artistic and financial particulars of that landscape. David G. Powell, who does just that for his livelihood, shares his wisdom with us.


Yours in actuality,

Thomas White