Below rookie feature filmmaker Scott Rosenbaum shares a scene for his passion project “The Perfect Age of Rock ‘N Roll,” starring Kevin Zegers, Jason Rutter, Taryn Manning and Peter Fonda. The rock drama opens in select theaters and hits VOD on August 5th.
What It’s About: Spyder (Kevin Zegers), a world famous musician whose debut album is a huge hit, retreats to his hometown after his sophomore effort ﬂops. There he reconnects with his former friend and collaborator, Eric Genson (Jason Ritter), now a middle school music teacher. It’s a reunion that forces the two to recall their youthful ambitions and re-examine the choices they’ve made. Accompanied by legendary rock ’n’ roll impresario August West (Peter Fonda), Spyder’s raucous crew of musicians, The Lost Soulz, and their ﬁery manager, Rose Atropos (Taryn Manning), set off on a journey along historic Route 66 in hopes of salvaging a long lost dream and rekindling the mojo that made Spyder’s debut album a huge success. [Synopsis courtesy of the film’s site]
The “interview” scene presented here occurs at the end of the film and is the last in a series of similar sequences.
Co-writer Jasin Cadic and I established this part of the story as Spyder’s (Kevin Zegers) confessional as much as it was Clifton’s (Lukas Haas) interview with the reclusive rock star. From the picture’s title to the end of the movie, a major plot point focuses on the odd coincidence that has seen many great, iconic music figures die at age 27 (Hendrix, Janis, Kurt, Brian Jones, Morrison et al.).
By now, the tragic death of Amy Winehouse and its close proximity to the release of this film have been written about for a couple of weeks. Somehow it already seems like it’s been an eternity, yet on the other hand, it’s too raw to even talk about. At first I didn’t want to comment on her death, not wanting to commit obvious sins and to respect Amy Winehouse, the person. In the end, all we are left with is another early death of a young person who happened to have been famous. Our approach to dealing with this subject matter in film was always to place emphasis on people and their art, more than their legend, myth or public personae. This philosophy was translated when creating and dealing with the characters in the film. We aimed to make a film about people who happen to be involved in music, rather than a film about music and use people as a hollow vehicle.
This scene is the culmination of not only the film itself, but also a delicate and nuanced performance by Kevin. All independent films are short on time, and this reality only added to the many challenges we faced when shooting this scene. We had three days to shoot all the interview/confession sequences between Spyder and Clifton. The prosthetic make-up applied to Kevin that allow the 22 year old actor, playing a 27 year old rock star to transform into the 47 year old burned out recluse took about four hours each morning. This provided its own set of challenges for Lukas since much of those shoot days were spent with the camera pointed towards Spyder. Lukas was incredibly patient and he also brought a tremendous amount of knowledge and passion for music to his role.
What I hope you’ll find when you view this clip and the film, as a whole is a truthful and sensitive portrayal of very real human experiences. We felt this was the only way to avoid the obvious pitfalls when setting out to make a film about rock ‘n’ roll.
I was blessed with an incredibly talented cast that all contributed significantly to their characters’ portrayals and the overall storytelling process. In addition, I was fortunate to work with the gifted cinematographer Tom Richmond. My producing partner Joseph White, Jasin, Tom and I spoke extensively in pre-production about the look of Spyder’s house and how we wanted it to inform the character. Our specific approach towards some key inanimate objects within the film was to personify them. In addition to Spyder’s house, which we saw as its own character, we acted similarly towards the Airstream RV. In fact, Fonda took to calling the RV, “The Peerless Rita;” to convey his affinity for the old vehicle paying homage to Rita Hayworth and the line about her in the Bogart film, “Beat The Devil.”
In creating the old house’s character, I had compiled many books and images of medieval churches, crypts, tombs and any other spaces that is subject to or causes sepulchral lighting. This, I saw as critical to Old Spyder’s world and Kevin’s ability to convey the tortured nature of his character. It was essential that Kevin be able to elicit even a modicum of sympathy for an otherwise loathsome antihero. For me, it was critical that we achieved the vision of the house. Tom and the crew did a great job lighting and shooting this scene and in realizing the desired effect.
Once the stage was set, it was really all about the performances. In the clip we are discussing, all the elements listed above had to come together to let this scene provide both the conclusion to our story and a much-needed release or catharsis for an otherwise heavy film. I hope when you view this clip, you witness the realization of the aforementioned aspirations.