Reuben Meltzer’s The Moment: Bonnaroo Premieres at the New Jersey Film Festival this Friday, October 2, 2015!
Here is an interview with The Moment: Bonnaroo Producer/Director Reuben Meltzer who is now based in Australia:
Nigrin: Your documentary film The Moment: Bonnaroo is a personal film on the famous music festival in Tennessee. Tell us about what motivated you to make this film.
Meltzer: Music has always been a passion of mine, maybe not as passionate as film, but definitely a close second. My love of music brought me to countless amounts of concerts. Every time a band that I was into came through NYC I was sure to be at their show. At each concert I'd find myself obsessing with how to capture the experience onto film, but not just in a videography sense. I wanted to explore how to translate the feeling one gets when they are at these shows onto film. This led me to starting a web series that I dubbed "The Moment." "The Moment" consisted of me interviewing a band and shooting a live performance. While I began exploring what I could do with "The Moment" I also started becoming fascinated with music festivals. It was in 2009 that I first went to Bonnaroo, and I knew right then that I wanted to find a way of capturing that magical experience on film. I returned to Bonnaroo in 2010 with the goal of making a short film. The film turned out well, but in making it I discovered how little of the festival I truly captured. This lit the fuse of inspiration that sparked my final return to Bonnaroo with the goal of making a feature length film.
Nigrin: You and the camera go everywhere at the Festival. Roaming back stage, onto the stage, and through the crowds of dancing, delirious music fans. Tell us a bit more about this and what viewers can expect when they come to see your film.
Meltzer: Both Vinny (Cinematographer Vincent Torretta) and myself were armed with cameras and I told Vinny to shoot everything and anything. If something caught his eye then he should turn the camera on and shoot it. Having been to Bonnaroo before, I knew what to expect, but Vinny immediately felt overwhelmed by the amount of stimuli around. Over the 4 days of the festival and the two days it took to get there and back we shot over 14 hours of footage. The interviews and performances were just the half of it, we were attempting to capture the entire feel of the festival. We had press passes, but we weren't "allowed" to shoot outside the press area. Bonnaroo likes to control the kind of footage that is shot there, which is understandable, they are a massive festival that makes millions of dollars every year and want to maintain a certain brand image. This meant that we were amidst the throngs of people trying to shoot these shows with our cameras zoomed all the way in. When it came time to make a film out of the footage we had shot I knew that I wanted to feature a song from every band that I had interviewed. I didn't know what the story would be that would drive the film for the 106 minutes it took for the songs to play. After studying the footage I realized that the story I wanted to tell was the story of the film's creation. This led to the film being experimental in it's three pronged approach. First, I found the structure of how each song would flow into the next, then I recorded narration to move the story along. Next I sifted through all the interview footage and attempted to match up segments of the interviews with what my narration was touching on. Lastly, I went through the hours of b-roll to try and match images with my narration and the interviews.
Nigrin: How long did it take you to make this film and were there any memorable stories while you made this film or any other info about your film you can rely to our readers?
Meltzer: I think the majority of the stories of how this film was shot are included in the film itself. What you don't get from the film is the story of how it was edited. It took Vinny and I 3 years to edit the film together. There was no money behind this project and we both had to work whatever jobs we had to, to support our families, which over the course of editing this film grew (we both have had little girls since we shot the film). A couple months after shooting the film I moved to Australia to live with my then girlfriend, now wife. Once I figured out to structure the film around the 4 days of the festival and the 1 day it took to get there, I then found the best order for all the songs to play out. I then tasked Vinny with editing "Day 2" while I edited the rest. It took us a year to get the first cut done, and when it was finished we held a private screening in NYC. It was well received, but Vinny and I saw a lot of thing we could do to improve it even more. Then over the course of the next two years children were born and weddings happened and it took us a long time to make those improvements. Finally, when it was done, I reached out to Bonnaroo in the hopes that they would be interested in featuring my film as a part of their festival (they have a cinema tent there as well). I didn't hear back from them, so I contacted them again, this time I wanted to get permission to feature their festival while I pursued distribution and the film festival circuit, but I still didn't hear anything. I gave them a deadline to get back to me if they had any issues. The deadline passed, and figured I was good to go, but 6 months later, while I was attempting to sort out all the music licensing I received an email from Bonnaroo's lawyers stating I did not have permission to feature their festival in my film. I quickly wrote back asking how I could get permission to feature Bonnaroo in my film, because without Bonnaroo I had no film. That's when I received the most crushing blow yet... They did not want to have anything to do with the film. I was devastated. I had devoted 3 years of my life to this film and I saw how much potential it had. I wanted to see what my options were so I contacted an entertainment lawyer and learned that I was being bullied into not putting my film out there. Unfortunately, I didn't have the money needed to retain the lawyer, which means I can't pursue distribution, but I can still try and get my film out there for people to see via the festival circuit. That brings us to the happy ending with my film premiering at the New Jersey Film Festival!
Here is the trailer for The Moment: Bonnaroo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-RvnOOSJ4AQ
The Moment: Bonnaroo will be screened with two great short experimental films on Saturday, October 3. Here is more info on this program:
Stream: Explore The Unseen - Roman De Giuli (Nuremberg, Germany) A stunningly beautiful experimental film that reveals colorful particles which are invisible to the naked eye. Let your mind float and travel in this microscopic cinematic universe! 2015; 5 min.
Matryoshka - Cherlyn Hsing-Hsin Liu (Valencia, California) Touched with magical realism, this film centers upon Mathew, who is trying to figure out why his brother became a murderer. As he comes to realize that his brother was trapped in his own thinking, Mathew fantasizes that he has entered and can break out of that same cage. 2015; 13 min.
The Moment: Bonnaroo - Reuben Meltzer (Cairnlea, Victoria, Australia) Roaming back stage, onto the stage, and through the crowds of dancing, delirious music fans, this documentary about the Bonnaroo music festival combines on-site interviews with live performances from well known and yet-to-be-discovered bands. 2015; 107 min. With an introduction and Q+A session with Cinematographer and Assistant Director Vincent Torretta! Co-sponsored by the Rutgers University Centers for Global Advancement and International Affairs (GAIA Centers), the Rutgers University American Studies Department and the Rutgers University MGSA Dance Department!
Friday, October 2, 2015 at 7:00 p.m.
Voorhees Hall #105/Rutgers University
71 Hamilton Street, New Brunswick, New Jersey
$10=General; $9=Students+Seniors; $8=Rutgers Film Co-op Friends
Information: (848) 932-8482; www.njfilmfest.com
Free Food courtesy of Jimmy Johns of New Brunswick will be given out prior to this screening of the New Jersey Film Festival!