CAUGHT ON FILM
Author-Screenwriter-Director Gorman Bechard
by Margot C. Lester
“If you put a gun to my head and said I could only take one band to a dessert island it’d be Archers of Loaf. Forget Nirvana. The Archers were the greatest rock band of the ’90s. The prodigal sons of the Replacements without being drunken messes. Pavement for thinking people. They took the energy and songwriting and humor and everything great about rock ‘n’ roll and what it’s supposed to be and moved forward with it.”
That pretty much sums up why, after seeing the legendary local band for two reunion shows in Los Angeles, filmmaker Gorman Bechard approached his favorite band about doing a documentary.
“They didn’t want to do one of those delving documentaries, so I said, ‘People have lost what rock ‘n’ roll is. Let’s capture what a real rock ‘n’ roll band should be on stage for the next generation.’”
His argument was compelling enough for the band to agree. Bechard and his crew “shot the crap out of” later shows at Cat’s Cradle as only a filmmaker-fan could, capturing the raw energy of the band and the crowd.
The resulting work is called What Did You Expect?, after one of the band’s singles. Shot by six different camera operators, the film captures the action from many angles – stage right and left, on the catwalk, over the drummer’s shoulder, in the audience and one freelancer roaming around. If you’ve been to an Archers show, you know it would take that many cameras to document it all.
“This film feels like you’re leaning up against the stage, maybe you’ve had too many drinks, with people pounding at your back, and you don’t know who to focus on,” he relates. “Oh, and it’s loud.”
Step Into The Light
This is the second rock-umentary for Bechard, who’s also known for his narrative features (Friends with Benefits) and a novel (The Second Greatest Story Ever Told). His first project in the genre was Color Me Obsessed, A Film About The Replacements. That set the stage for the Archers film and his upcoming doc, Every Everything, The Music, Life & Times of Grant Hart, the singer-songwriter-drummer of the iconic ’80s rock band Hüsker Dü. That film will be more of a narrative.
“Since the Archers broke up I haven’t seen a band I truly loved live with that kind of energy,” Bechard relates. “Matt [Gentling, bassist] hasn’t aged – I think he drank some vampire blood or something. I don’t know how someone that age moves like that. The power was there.”
And now it’s on film for fans to revel in and the new generation to study.
What Did You Expect had its world premier at Canada’s version of South by Southwest on June 14. Its U.S. debut will be, appropriately enough, back at the Cradle on July 7. It will be on DVD by the end of the year.
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