It’s always a treat when great documentary filmmakers are as prolific as Don Argott and Demian Fenton are. Since their first feature, 2005’s “Rock School,” they’ve churned out another four films in only six years. Their highly engaging art world doc, “The Art of the Steal,” was one of my top 10 of 2010. And their surprisingly uplifting crack-addicted rocker film, “Last Days Here,” was listed among my picks for best docs to look for in 2012. And they’ve already unveiled their next film, the nuclear power expose, “The Atomic States of America.”
I’m excitedly anticipating that new doc, which is currently on the festival circuit, but for now I’m primarily excited that Last Days Here is finally hitting theaters this Friday (I saw it literally a year ago this week). The doc is about the fall and rise of little-known heavy metal legend Bobby Liebling, singer for the influential yet forgotten band Pentagram, and it’s the rare film of its kind that captivated and moved me.
This week I talked with Argott and Fenton about this transcending “rock doc,” the problems and benefits of nonfiction films being lumped into classifications and compared to narrative works, and how they’ve been so successful with such varied and obscure subject matter. Here is our conversation:
How did you guys find this subject and project?
FENTON: Don and I am both huge rock fans, heavy metal fans, and totally been digging into ‘70s rock. And when you start to dig into more of that second-tier ‘70s rock you run into Pentagram. I heard Pentagram, thought they were awesome, and when you do a little more digging you hear about the legendary Bobby Liebling. And you hear all these stories about how he’s maybe going to have his arms amputated because he was doing heroin so much. Or you hear that he died on stage at one point and was revived.
So I’d always heard about this guy, and I had a couple beers one night at a metal show outside of Philadelphia and met Pellet, which is Sean Pelletier, the guy in the film. We got into talking about what it would be like. He was in contact with Bobby, had been helping him for a little while with his career and trying to get the music out. We just started chatting about making a movie. We were just eager to make it on our own terms and we just started shooting a little bit.
Continue reading this interview at the Doc Channel Blog.