When California pop-punk pioneers the Descendents play Dallas this weekend, it will be an occasion to celebrate for local fans of the genre — and none more so than Dallas-based filmmakers Deedle LaCour and James Rayburn, who made a documentary about the band in 2013.
Sitting in the downtown offices of their production house, Charlie Uniform Tango, LaCour and Rayburn still seem tickled about their film, Filmage, which has screened all over the world in the last four years.
“We thought there was something special in the story,” says LaCour, who spent three years co-directing the film with Matt Riggle.
Filmage will screen at the Studio Movie Grill on Saturday before the Descendents' show next door at Gas Monkey. After the sold-out movie, the band will participate in a Q&A moderated by Chris DeMakes, frontman of Less Than Jake.
The Descendents emerged from the American hardcore scene of the '80s but were not well known outside of it. But they had fans in major stars of today such as Dave Grohl and Mark Hoppus, who both appear in Filmage. Marilyn Manson and members of No Doubt have also spoken to the press about their affection for the Descendents.
But Filmage is more than a fan tribute. It’s a moving film about a band that has survived several lineup changes and shifting music industry trends.
Many of the filmmakers are also musicians. Cinematographer Justin Wilson spent his teenage years in punk bands, as well as Red Animal War and Saboteur. LaCour spent many years fronting pop-punk band 41 Gorgeous Blocks and recording bands in his home studio.
LaCour found out about the Descendents after he sent a fan letter to MxPx when he was 14, asking about the group's favorite bands. Frontman Mike Herrera’s mother answered the letter and mentioned the Descendents and All. LaCour was on his way to discovering Descendents albums Milo Goes to College and I Don’t Want to Grow Up.
Now LaCour is seeing his children become fans of the band, which released Hypercaffium Spazzinate, its first album in 12 years, last year.
"Young kids can latch onto the goofiness of being overcaffeinated and being crazy,” he says, adding that this ability to keep attracting a younger audience has helped the Descendents stay relevant.
But more than anything, LaCour attributes the Descendents' continued success to the quality of their songwriting.
“Part of the magic is the songs are so good,” he says. “They’re timeless, classic songs. You can play them on an acoustic guitar, and it’s like a classic song.”
Rayburn says that after the filmmakers put teaser trailers for Filmage on YouTube, word and interest quickly spread. The audience for the film was larger than they realized.
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“They had such a built-in hardcore audience,” Rayburn says. “Some of that just happened.”
Rayburn and LaCour say they're beginning to work on new projects, but for now, they're focused on the hometown screening of Filmage.
“It’s fun to have that opportunity to share it with our family and friends,” Rayburn says. “We’re two people involved in this, but there are so many people here at Charlie Uniform Tango and other places in town that volunteered and have given so much of their time and services to help make the film possible."
Filmage screening, Studio Movie Grill, 10110 Technology Blvd. W., 4:15 p.m., sold out