Last year, Dallas-based filmmaker Shaun Colón had a vision of creating a documentary on one of his favorite record labels, San Francisco-based Fat Wreck Chords. Originally planned to be a short film, it soon become much longer and expansive. On Tuesday, an Indiegogo campaign launched, hoping to cover the costs of visiting California for more filming and post-production work, among other things. With a goal of raising $7,500 in 36 days, the campaign raised all of it (and a few thousand dollars more) in just 24 hours.
Speaking on his lunch break from his job at the Septien Group, Colón shared plenty about how the film came together, the accompanying music compilation, what inspired him, and what he hopes to have with the finished product.
Were you surprised by how fast the campaign earned in 24 hours? I would say I am taken aback, but I knew that this community would go for something like this. If I put something together that was well thought out and represented the scene that everyone remembers. The scene is representing is something that is all DIY. Surprised? Not exactly. I knew it would take off. I didn't think it would be this quick.
The goal of $7,500 has already been reached, so what do you hope to do with the extra money? I think I'm going to buy a lot of hookers and cocaine. [laughs] In the spirit of Fat Mike [Burkett, label owner and NOFX frontman] that would right. Just kidding. We're going to pump it right back into the film. Also, one of the perks [of the campaign] was a physical copy of the compilation we're doing. We purposefully didn't say CD or vinyl. If things go really well, we could do vinyl. It means we can put more money into post-production, pay the people who are doing volunteer work, promoting it. All will go back into it, basically.
So far, how many people have you interviewed?
I would say we've hit about 25-30 people so far. We did a whole bunch of interviews in Las Vegas almost a year ago. We had the intent of interviewing friends who are fans and we weren't thinking it would turn into something big.
The hope with this campaign is that you can go to San Francisco and film in Fat Wreck Chords, but do you worry music clearances could derail the film because of cost?
Well, all the music we're using is from Fat Wreck Chords and I already got clearances for everything. I got full permission to use whatever I wanted for the film from Fat Mike, actually. He was like, "Use whatever you want." We'll make sure all the footage we've been receiving will be cataloged, appropriately credited to the photographers and whoever did the filming.
Fat Mike definitely wanted Fat Wreck Chords bands in the documentary. We are doing a contest and we opened it up about a month ago. We've already had 120 bands submit cover songs, and not just acoustic covers - covers where bands went and recorded stuff. The cover that wins the contest will be in the film.
How did you get into Fat Wreck Chords in the first place?
When I was a teenager, there were the Punk-O-Rama compilations on Epitaph Records -that's where I heard NOFX. My sister lived in L.A., and I spent a summer with her and while I was there, I rollerbladed around everywhere. At the time, I was into Nirvana and had long hair. I was hanging out with these skateboard kids and I was asked if I knew who NOFX was. I said no. They were like, "What? You don't know Fat Wreck Chords?"
Those kids ended up robbing me and took my CDs out of my bag. When I got home, I looked up NOFX and Punk in Drublic led me to Fat Wreck Chords. I had a tape when I went out there next summer with Propagandhi's How to Clean Everything on one side with Good Riddance's A Comprehensive Guide to Moderne [sic] Rebellion on the other side. I listened to both sides of the tape over and over again for about three months while I was out there.
You interviewed Fat Mike and some members of Fat Wreck Chords bands when NOFX played at the House of Blues recently, right?
Yes. I lined up interviews with members of the opening bands through Twitter. Fat Mike gave us a great, legitimate interview, which was really cool.
Do you have a wishlist of people that you would like to interview but haven't interviewed yet?
To be honest, I did. Before I launched the Indiegogo campaign, it had already fallen into place. I reached out via Twitter to Russ Rankin from Good Riddance. I've been friends with Joey Cape for a couple of years now. He recorded at my studio about four or five years ago. Jake from Strung Out reached out to me and invited us to come out and film Strung Out while they are recording in June. I also had somebody on Twitter that reached out and referred me to Rory from No Use for a Name. The idea of this documentary is, in order to limit the scope, is focus on the timeframe between 1990 and 1999. A lot of really amazing bands and records were happening. Fat Wreck has gone on to have more amazing bands like Rise Against, Against Me!, I really wanted to focus on what was going on at that time period. What was going on was really unprecedented.
Are you still looking for writers or just fans to be interviewed, or are you trying to nail down more band people?
We're definitely open for more interviews. We're starting to get more stories. We've got a lot of details, but really what I'm looking for interviews now are stories. I want to know the stories, how the music has impacted people's lives and how that happened. There wasn't an Internet around at the time and it was a different way of reaching fans. Fanzines, early message boards, things that were going on. I think that created a community.
Are there documentaries that have influenced you to make A Fat Wreck emulate in your own way?
Oh, for sure. First off, Filmage. Those guys set the bar as far as punk rock documentaries go. The way the story is told, the story arc, the whole deal. I was blown away and intimidated when I saw that. What's cool is that they were acquaintances of mine and they invited me to see them in their office. I had a lot of questions about Filmage, but when I got there, they had all these questions about A Fat Wreck because they're fans of Fat Wreck Chords and really excited about it.
The documentary that actually inspired me to go and start making a documentary was Indie Game. One, it was one of the first crowd-funded films on Kickstarter. It's so gorgeous cinematically. That's really what I wanted to bring to the table with this.
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