Fw: Interview With Paul Crowder
bkawak at charter.net
Fri Nov 2 17:30:30 CDT 2007
>From the NG:
> Crowder on his Amazing Journey with The Who
> Source: Edward Douglas November 2, 2007
> Paul Crowder received a lot of recognition for his amazing editing
> work on Stacy Peralta's skateboarding doc Dogtown and Z-Boys,
> something that he carried over into his first documentary as a
> director, last year's Once in a Lifetime: The Extraordinary Story of
> the New York Cosmos (if you click on the title, you'll see that it was
> one of this writer's favorite movies of 2006).
> Crowder's latest movie is even more ambitious, taking a comprehensive
> look at the career of England's most notorious rock band of the '60s
> and '70s in Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who, a movie co-directed
> with legendary rock archivist Murray Lerner. It follows the band from
> their early days as a cover band through the worldwide success of
> their rock opera "Tommy" to the death of drummer Keith Moon, which led
> to a dry spell and an eventual dissolution before reforming in the
> mid-90s to do a couple of tours before bassist John Entwhistle died
> just as suddenly and tragically. "Amazing Journey" features
> surprisingly candid new interviews with Roger Daltrey and Pete
> Townsend talking about many subjects that were never addressed in Jeff
> Stein's earlier doc The Kids Are Alright as well as amazing never-
> before-seen footage of the band throughout their years.
> Crowder once again found a way to pull a lot of footage and interviews
> together into a tight two-hour package that can be seen on VH-1
> without commercial interruptions this Saturday before being released
> next Tuesday in a DVD package that includes a second disc called "Six
> Quick Ones" which gets more in depth into what each member of the band
> brought to the mix and includes rare early footage of the band
> performing at the Railway Hotel as the High Numbers before their first
> single as The Who. Together, they're an amazing package for any fan of
> the band or of rock music in general who may be curious how this four-
> piece band has lasted for over forty plus years despite so many
> After talking to Crowder last year, ComingSoon.net had a chance to
> talk with him about the band, the movie, and he also shared a bit
> about his background and a couple of secrets about the unique visual
> style that makes his documentaries so dynamic.
> ComingSoon.net: I'm so glad I had a chance to see this in a theatre
> before the DVD release, because it plays really well on the big
> Paul Crowder: It plays great in a theatre actually, and it's a shame
> you missed Toronto 'cause when we played at the Elgin, the sound was
> brilliant, and it really sells the film a lot more, it's like a rock
> concert almost.
> CS: How did you first get involved with this? It must have been a lot
> of work getting everything together, so were you doing this at the
> same as "Once in a Lifetime"?
> Crowder: No, basically I got brought in just about May 2006, I got
> involved with the project. I believe Murray Lerner had been involved
> with it for a while, compiling media and researching and compiling a
> bunch of the interviews, probably about 60-70% of the interviews.
> CS: That must have been right after then, because that's about when
> "Once in a Lifetime" premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival.
> Crowder: Yes, that's right. In fact, I just got back from that, and I
> was doing other bits and pieces, and I remember getting the Email and
> just jumping out of my chair with delight. "Woah, you're kidding me.
> The Who? Right, how much do I have to pay to do this?"
> CS: I guess that answered my question whether you were a big Who fan
> or just found them to be an interesting subject matter.
> Crowder: No, I was a big Who fan, Keith especially. I remember back in
> my way early days of editing, when I was doing "Behind the Music", I
> did the Ozzy Osbourne one , and they were doing the Keith Moon one in
> the edit bay next to me, and I tried to trade with the guy. "Dude, you
> do Ozzy and I'll do Keith." I couldn't. I had to do Ozzy. So when I
> got this, I was really excited.
> CS: I didn't realize that you have a background editing for VH-1. That
> makes a lot of sense that you have that music background already.
> Crowder: Yeah, I mean, it was me and about four or five other editors
> that were the thrust of the production, editing-wise, back in those
> days when BTM was really at its height, so we helped develop the style
> and everything with George Mole, the executive producer, and Paul
> Gallagher, so we got the show on its feet and really got a style about
> it. It was around the time I did "Dogtown" I guess, just about that
> time. We all sort of came together about then.
> CS: Were you ever a musician or had some sort of musical background
> Crowder: Yeah, I was a drummer. I had a career for 20 years, so I kept
> real busy. When I got a family together. I married my wife Kelly and
> we had our first child Edie, it was a little tough to say to the wife,
> "Well, I'm going to get in the back of a van with four boys and we're
> going to go cruise up the coast for about thirty bucks a gig." You
> can't do that. I had to start a family, and my friend was a producer-
> this was about 1994-and he said, "You should try editing. I really
> think you'd be a really good editor." I said, "Why?" and he says, "I
> just have a feeling, so why don't you come to my office? I'll get you
> started. You can watch TV for 75 bucks a day and pull selects and
> stuff," and I said, "Right, I'm in." So I started sort of that route,
> and what was really lucky for me career-wise was the Avid and the
> computers were just taking over. Everything went digital and non-
> linear around that time, and I just hooked it up. I was already a Mac
> owner and I really got into it quickly, and so all these old-school
> editors, who were diehard, refusing to move with technology, when it
> came time to it, it was either work on an Avid or don't work, so they
> pulled me in with, "Paul, how does this work? How does this work?" I
> did a year of assisting like that and the next thing I know, I was
> CS: You have a very dynamic editing style, so I can almost see you
> having been a drummer, because I can see that in the rhythmic style
> you've perfected.
> Crowder: Yeah, it did. I was just having a talk about it last night.
> It really helped the transition, the rhythmic part of everything,
> timing, it really did help. Especially in this style I ended up being
> able to edit in early days, and I kind of stuck with that style,
> CS: You mentioned that Murray was already working on The Who doc. Had
> he already gotten Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend involved and done
> the interviews?
> Crowder: He hadn't gotten a Pete interview. He had done a Pete
> interview for his Isle of Wight concert DVD that he put together, when
> he released the Isle of Wight concert from 1970, he'd interviewed Pete
> for that, so he had that interview in the can, but he didn't have a
> brand new one, although that was only two years old, I believe. He had
> interviewed Roger and Chris Stamp, and as I say, about 60% of the
> other main characters, and then when I became involved-I don't know
> why he got me involved, but I didn't really question why-he sort of
> let me and Mark Monroe the writer, who was equally important in
> creating the story and getting it told the way it was. He got us
> involved and he just let us run with it and just said, "Go do your
> thing." I was very grateful to be able to do it in that way, to just
> leave and start from scratch with the album concept and how to present
> it as an LP and everything. But he had done a bunch of those
> interviews. I went out and I did another Roger, I did the Edge and a
> couple others. I had Murray do a couple of others for me, which were
> East Coast, which made it more convenient, and then finally... we were
> just trying to get on Pete's schedule, and we eventually got Pete late
> in the process, but I got a fresh Pete interview, which was good.
> CS: That must have been great if you were such a fan of the band. How
> did you get them to talk so candidly about things? They talked about a
> lot of stuff that I would expect them to not want to get into.
> Crowder: Right, well that was the thing. I couldn't believe how lucky
> we were, and I was so grateful to them for being so honest. Having
> watched the interview Roger had done with Murray, there was a great
> moment and we use it in the film where he says, "I like to fight, I
> still do," so I said to him at the beginning of the interview, "Look,
> Rog, if I ask any question you don't like and if I go anywhere you
> don't want to go, just tell me to 'F*ck Off'" and he said, "Don't
> worry, mate, I will." So I said, "Alright, alright, but don't hit me"
> and he said, "Don't worry. I don't hit people anymore." But no, that's
> not so true, is it? We became really relaxed in the middle, we laughed
> from the word go, and he knew that if I went anywhere he didn't want
> to talk about, he would tell me. There was actually one moment that
> was funny when I was talking about the punch scene, where I asked him
> about getting knocked out for the rehearsal for "Quadrophenia", he
> said, "Oh, c'mon, mate. We've done this!" and he looks over to the
> producer, "Haven't we got this already? I've told this story 85 times.
> I can't believe I've got to tell it again!" So I said, "Yeah, I just
> wanted to hear any new perspective," and he said, "Oh, alright" and he
> just opened up and he loved telling the story again. He had no
> problems with it. It was just, "That story again?" because you can
> imagine someone like Pete and Rog over the years, they get
> interviewed, and there were certain things that come up and come up
> and come up, and obvious, this was one of them. There were a few of
> those things, but as I say, it was so honest and open and their
> management were watching their backs the whole time, so every time we
> provided cuts, and if there was anything untoward, they would bring it
> up or make sure everything was good, but there never was.
> CS: How many hours of interview footage did you have to go through to
> put together what you ended up using? I assume Murray hadn't done any
> editing at that point, just conducted the interviews and found
> Crowder: Yeah, exactly, there was just tons. Basically, I was given
> the project. It was already digitized. Everything was in there that
> they had so far accumulated. There were a few things I knew of that I
> couldn't find that I said, "Look, I know this exists. Let's see if we
> can find any of this stuff." They had opened the vaults to us at
> Norwich, where they keep all their film stored that they'd collected
> over the years, so I knew there was a few others things I was trying
> to work out, "Can we find this? Does that exist? I've seen a little
> bit of this somewhere. Can we find that?" and there was lots of those
> roads we shot down, but hours of footage? I can't even begin to think
> how much there was. I mean, you've got concerts for a start, you've
> got odd TV show. We even got footage from bootleggers and stuff. There
> was just an unbelievable amount, I mean a good 200 hours of stuff at
> CS: Where did you find the Super 8 film of the band playing at the
> Railway Hotel in '65?
> Crowder: Roger had bought it, but somebody found it. Nigel Sinclair
> actually knows exactly the story, but from what I understand either in
> Holland or Denmark, an old man who was a film collector was clearing
> out his attic of all these old film canisters, just dumping them, and
> his grandson was a big Who fan, and he spotted this one as it was
> getting tossed that said "High Numbers" on it, and he went, "High
> Numbers? That was the Who's old name." And he saw "Railway Hotel '65"
> and he said, "Whoa, is that The Who?" so he just picked it up, just in
> case, put it to one side, pulled it out and it was that ten minute
> piece of film.
> CS: Was there a lot of restoration involved with that footage?
> Obviously, the sound quality was excellent.
> Crowder: No, it wasn't too bad, it was actually a very, very good
> print. It had a little bit of what we call vinegaring, had gone a
> little bit pink, but we were able to get rid of that---because it was
> black and white, no color to lose-so we would just take the Kramer out
> and keep it nice and clean black and white, but as far as scratches
> and pops and sound quality, it was in really good shape, so we didn't
> have to do that much.
> CS: I was surprised that you didn't have The Who's "Rock 'n' Rock
> Circus" appearance in there. Was that just due to clearance issues?
> Crowder: No, reason being is that it's in "The Kids Are Alright." My
> big thing was, my first challenge if you like, was okay, I'm going to
> do this film, but one of my favorite films is Jeff Stein's "The Kids
> Are Alright." It's just phenomenal. When I was a musician, I would
> watch that before I played a gig to get amped, so I get up and get my
> Keith on and feel like I'm ready to go. So I'm like, "Well, how are
> the hell are we going to compete with this? I certainly don't want to
> compete with it, and I don't want to make "The Kids Are Alright 2."
> This has got to be the full story, so my initial thought was that this
> has to stand with that. You need to be able to have these two elements
> and complete the whole Who story. We'll tell you the story, and you
> watch "The Kids Are Alright" and the "Six Quick Ones" and you've got
> it all. If you come on in a hundred years time, you should be able to
> understand everything about The Who by watching those films back to
> back or the two together. So that was my thing, to compliment that,
> and therefore, stay away as much as possible from some of the footage
> that is in there, so that was the reason I stayed away from "Rock 'n'
> Roll Circus." The other thing being that it actually was three years
> after the song "A Quick One" came out when they actually performed it,
> so as we were telling the story fairly linearly and in chronological
> order, showing that performance at the time when the song came out
> didn't fit either. Which is why I had them do an animation of the
> album artwork.
> CS: I was wondering if that animation was something you found.
> Crowder: No, we made that for the film.
> CS: I also liked the "Six Quick Ones" because they dissected what each
> member of the band brought to the mix, which was something that really
> hasn't been seen on film before.
> Crowder: No, and what was fantastic about being able to do that was
> that was stuff we wanted to do in the film, but we just don't have
> time when you're trying to tell a good, clean story for a general
> public, not a Who fan, not a music fan even. Just to make a film, if
> you like, where people can get into it and some of that can cause
> certain people's eyes to glaze over if they're not interested. You
> don't want to bore people obviously, although you feel that that is
> such important information for people to have, especially with this
> definitive documentary. We always knew that we were going to make more
> than one DVD, that there was going to be two films, so knowing we had
> that, we were able to build these sections for the film and then
> realize that's for film two. That bit has to go in film 2. When we cut
> it out, we would go, "That's okay, this can go in film 2, this would
> be perfect 'cause this would work like this." We were able to use "Six
> Quick Ones" so we could really do that, because I felt that was really
> important and Nigel Sinclair did as well, that we got into the
> musicianship of everyone, that Disc 2 was a little bit of glory for
> the big musicians and the real Who fans, and again, you don't have to
> be a Who fan, but just if you're interested.
> CS: How did you wind up narrating the movie yourself?
> Crowder: Well, obviously your voice is on it for the temp. It was
> always considered to be a temporary thing. I had a couple a people in
> mind that I really wanted to use, and unfortunately, due to schedules,
> couldn't get them. Then we just went for a Joe Blow actor to do it,
> and nobody liked it for some reason, and it was a real shame, and I
> think it was only because they were used to hearing me, and they just
> didn't like the way the guy had attacked it. We were getting close to
> the crunch and we tried a couple more people, and once we finally
> realized we didn't have time anymore, they just said, "Paul, you do
> it," so I said, "Sure." I was going to do it under a pseudonym, but
> unfortunately, my ego got the better of me.
> CS: One thing I really like about your style of editing is that when
> you show still photos, the camera never remains stationary, panning
> between people in the photos or creating motion. Is that something you
> do with computers?
> Crowder: A bit of both. We do it two ways. I either use a matte camera
> where you put it on a stand and you have a joystick so you can turn
> the picture left and right or zoom in and out with the camera and we
> just roll HD Tape and film the photographs that way, or I'll do it
> digitally in After Effects, and we'll do the moves that way. We'll
> separate some elements and give it sort of a 3D effect sometimes as
> well. That was something I learned with Stacy Peralta. When we did
> "Dogtown," I'd been working on a bunch of stuff where matte camera
> sessions were done computerized where you'd log in point A to point B,
> hit "go" and the computer would slowly go do it. When we did
> "Dogtown," Stacy went into the operator and said, "Get off the
> computer, just do it with the joysticks, do it my hand," and the guy
> said, "I've never done it before" and (Stacy) said, "Perfect, then
> it'll be even better." It was really wobbly and crazy and then you can
> speed it up, so we do it that way, and that's how that style developed
> way back then.
> CS: Do you think you might do some more work with Stacy in the future?
> Crowder: I would love to. Unfortunately, the Who film coincided with
> his latest project, which is about the South Los Angeles gangs, and I
> couldn't do it. We were working at the same place. I was editing The
> Who, while he was editing his film, and we were constantly showing
> each other each other's work going, "What do you think? What should I
> do here?" and vice versa. It was quite collaborative, but yeah, I
> really hope we can work together. We have a great working
> CS: Do you have any idea what you might be doing next?
> Crowder: I'm working with Mark Monroe, we're co-directing a sailing
> documentary for Roy Disney about a bunch of young sailors who sailed
> the Trans-Pac this year, which is an open ocean race that goes from
> Long Beach down to Waikiki. It's a hundred year old race and Roy
> picked twenty kids-sailing isn't an old man's sport but middle age is
> where you're at your peak. If you want to get on a boat these days,
> it's a high dollar industry now and you have to put your hours in.
> Well, he wanted to get a group of young kids. He felt that a group of
> young kids could do well in this race or win it even, so he put
> together a team of kids and they trained them, and this documentary
> basically follows their story, pulled off the streets into sailing the
> race. And then we're talking about some other stuff. I like the idea
> of Formula One. I think there's a great story there.
> CS: This a band who's experienced so much success but also so much
> tragedy. Having spent so much time on this movie as a fan, did you get
> any insights into what has kept them going to this day? It's just
> amazing that they're still going over 40 years after they started
> playing together.
> Crowder: Well, exactly. That's the whole thing. This band, they keep
> cracking it out and keep selling. The thing I found fascinating was I
> saw them play early in the production--I was about three or four
> months into editing when I saw them play in Los Angeles. I'd seen the
> Stones two or three months before and what really got me was the fact
> that when I saw the Stones, it felt like a band going through the
> motions and doing their show. They were great and everything and I was
> still really impressed with how they played for their age, but I still
> felt a little bit like they were just doing their thing. Whereas, when
> I saw The Who, when Pete did his windmill, he wasn't doing it, because
> it's like, "Well, it's 10:00, it's this song, I have to do it here."
> He was doing it because that's where it felt right to do it. I saw
> them the next night and everything was in a different place. There was
> no routine involved, and it just all seemed to be completely and
> utterly honest still from both of them, so for me, that's what makes
> them special. There's no bullsh*t with them whatsoever, and I think
> that's always been the case with The Who. They're such an honest band.
> That came out in the interviews, that comes out on the stage. They're
> just honest. They don't give a sh*t about what anyone thinks really.
> They are the ultimate, if you want, punk rock band, for want of a
> better word, but they're just a really honest band. I think that's
> what keeps them accessible, and keeps their longetivity going, in my
> opinion. I'm sure other people, like Roger and Pete, might think
> differently, but that's the perception I got.
> Amazing Journey: The Story of the Who will premiere on VH-1 on
> Saturday, November 3, and will then be available on double DVD with
> Amazing Journey: Six Quick Ones on November 6. You can preorder your
> copy on Amazon.com.
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