I’m quite excited to share a four star (out of four) review generated by our screening at the 2016 BFI/The London Film Festival #bfilondonfilmfest for my documentary film “Shot! The Psycho Spiritual Mantra of Rock” featuring the life and work of extraordinary Rock and Roll photographer and dear friend, Mick Rock. I describe the film as a psychedelic Rock and Roll jamboree – a very experiential and entertaining journey. Directed by Brit Barney Clay and produced by VICE Films, Straight Up Films and RockEye Productions. We’re looking at a Spring 2017 commercial release worldwide – details TBA. For now, take a read of of this lovely review by Neil Dowden. [SHOT! Review] Cheers!
PORT MORRIS, The Bronx — A Queens based film and television studio opened up its third city location Wednesday in the Bronx.
Silvercup Studios– home to “Sex and the City,” “When Harry Met Sally” and “Girls” – built the $35 million studio complex to meet the needs of New York’s film industry. In 2006, only nine TV shows were based in New York City, but more than 30 film in the city now, according to the Mayor’s Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting.
“Silvercup Studios is a great New York success story, whose growth and strength parallels everything going on in the Bronx right now,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo said. “This expansion will help create hundreds of good-paying jobs, generating millions of dollars to local businesses and further build upon New York’s booming film industry.”
It was just over 10 years ago when Mick Rock, the iconic Rock and Roll photographer, came into my office with a bag full of photos and a DVD to talk about a crazy JT Leroy indie film project we were working together on for Island Records founder Chris Blackwell’s film company, Palm Pictures. By that time, I had known Mick for a few years mostly from attending his very high profile photo exhibits in New York City with my good friend Jane Stuart. These were not photo exhibits for the quiet wine sipping cheese eating art crowd. Mick is rock star! You’d have to do battle with massive crowds at the door through the mounted police because, if you got in, you were likely to bump into Debbie Harry, Keith Richards, Lou Reed or Mick Jagger – all artists Mick has shot over his 4 decade and counting career. At the end of our JT Leroy film meeting, Mick pulls a DVD out from his bag and proceeds to tell me that he thinks there might be something we can do with a bit of footage he shot over the years going back as far as 1972 from his early years photographing Ziggy Stardust (David Bowie).
Naturally, I was more than quite interested in taking a peek. From the flicker of the first frame of grainy b/w footage, I knew he was sitting on a Rock and Roll goldmine. How much of this footage did you say you shot Mick? I ask. Jump to today, just one week from the world premiere of Shot! The Psycho Spiritual Mantra of Rockat The Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. #mickrockdoc #tribecafilmfest
Mick Rock with Lou Reed at Varvatos for Lou’s Transformer launch.
The film is one of the most anticipated of the festival and is already on everyone’s must see list including Rolling Stone. So much transpired over those 10 years a feature film documentary financed and produced the way Mick and I wanted. We had set our sights pretty high for how we wanted the story told, the look, a unique approach. We weren’t going to make another talking heads, isn’t he just great documentary. We wanted to really tell a story. So many meetings, false starts, imploding TV network executives, directional changes, the birth of Netflix streaming, the success of Amazon Prime and, most recently, the deaths of both Lou Reed and David Bowie, two of Mick’s dearest friends. The whole experience is such a New York story because so much of Mick’s professional life has been centered around New York City starting with Lou Reed. Looking back, it was always the City’s unique energy that projected this project forward. So, I’m going to have my own very New York moment this coming Friday when the lights go down and the flicker of the frames appear on the big screen before a sold out, standing room only NYC audience. It’s been an amazing ride so far. I love this crazy town!
I recently went to see the motion picture Gatsby which got me thinking about life in New York City during Prohibition – imagine, a national ban on the sale, production, and transportation of alcohol from 1920 to 1933. Basically, we’re talking about a painfully long nationally mandated body cleanse and not the spa treatment kind. Rather, a period of time in our nation’s history of clashing values that sparked a great deal of illegal activity, violence and, some debouchery. Bit like today actually. I enjoyed this feature film version of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s great American novel more so than the Redford/Farrow version. Director Baz Luhrmann who directed Moulin Rouge and Romeo + Juliet provides the audience with some delicious movement and eye candy in my opinion. In spite of what critics are saying, folks are buying loads of tickets to see the pic. Perhaps there’s a real need for a bit of 1920s escapism? DiCaprio does a fantastic job portraying the mysterious bootlegger. The party scenes were amazing and I especially enjoyed JayZ’s soundtrack work. Of course, I love the way Luhrmann portrays New York City with such great style mixed with some 20s grit and, of course, Gatsby behind some fancy wheels with his posse as they some of the town’s iconic spots including a retro Plaza Hotel. Check out the film, see it in 3D, visit some Gatsby inspired spots in New York City and throw yourself back into the 1920s for a spell.
Tonight, Barbra Streisand will be presented with the highly prestigious Chaplin Award by The Film Society of Lincoln Center here in New York. What a night it will be! Everyone who is anyone will be there; Bill Clinton, Catherine Deneuve, Kris Kristofferson, Michael Douglas, Liza, the list is impressive. Previous honorees have included Sidney Poitier, Jane Fonda, Bette Davis, Jimmy Stewart, Sir Lawrence Olivier and, the first recipient, Charlie Chaplin 40 years ago in 1972. She deserves it all. I’m a big fan, always have been ever since watching Funny Girl with mom, dad and sis when TVs had tubes. I was hooked like everyone else around the world. Her voice is a large chunk of my life’s soundtrack growing up a big dreamer the first generation child of immigrant parents. I think I wore out the grooves of the soundtrack to A Star Is Born. Imagine my delight when I broke in to show business by landing a job at CBS/Fox Video – the original home video company – as an assistant in the music department and quickly learning that I would be working together with Ken Ross on the release of Barbra Streisand’s first and second television specials! An incredibly special experience and one I will always cherish. Thank you, Ken.
Barbra Streisand and New York City are synonomous. From Broadway to the small screen to the silver screen, New York City is featured prominently in so much of her work. Her first television special “My Name is Barbra” originally aired in 1965 when Barbra was performing in Funny Girl on Broadway. She watched the program from her dressing room. “My Name is Barbra” was released on home video in 1986. It hadn’t been seen by anyone since it was broadcast live on CBS some 20+ years earlier. Now of course, everything’s just a point and click away which is marvelous. I found a great clip that showcases the incredibly iconic Bergdorff Goodman Department Store on Fifth Avenue.
My fondest Streisand related memory was being invited by Barbra’s manager Mr. Marty Erlichman to join him for a one-on-one drink at Sardi’s where he proceeded to share with me old Broadway war stories, tales of the opening of Funny Girl on Broadway where the top producers and stars used to sit and the story of how he had discovered Barbra. I was just a little pisher assistant back then, but he made me feel like a big shot producer – a moment that solidified for me that if you just follow your dreams, life serves up some amazing moments. So, thanks for discovering Barbra Marty and, Congratulations Miss Streisand on The Chaplin Honor. I’m looking forward to more great New York moments together.
Barbra Streisand at New York’s iconic Bergdorf Goodman.