Monday, July 21, 2014

SINNERS HOLIDAY: Surreal Rock ‘n’ Roll Cinema

The current state of independent music and cinema is a tricky one for fan and artist alike. Contributions from fans have put many worthwhile productions into motion, anywhere from Bret Easton Ellis’s “The Canyons” to the latest Screeching Weasel recording. Independent film and music making now have the ability to avoid the cross contamination of corporate and sponsor influence.
Renegade filmmaker P.J. Wolff has brought together a cast of legendary misfits and rebels including John Doe, Corey Parks, Natasha Lyonne, and Duane Peters to whet your appetite in the explosive and seductive trailer for “Sinners Holiday”. Taking to the streets to get this monster made, Wolff is no stranger to greeting the impossible with voracious ambition.

Beginning with 2001’s Badsville(an honest portrayal of L.A's seedy rock n roll underground), Wolff brings his no holds barred vision to the digital era with his critically acclaimed short “9 Minutes” and the aforementioned feature in progress. We spoke recently about art, do-it-yourself, and the meaning of life in 2014.

What led to your decision to start an online campaign to get a feature film made?

(Wolff)The film almost happened a few times in the past but in the 11th hour, it would always fall through for some kind of crazy reason. So before just letting it fade off into the ether, I decided since nowadays there is something called Kickstarter, that I would give it a final do or die-last stand-go and see if I could make it happen.

How did you pull this illustrious cast together?

I called up a bunch of my semi-famous rock n roll friends, an actress friend (Natasha Lyonne), and somehow talked them all into going out into the desert with me for a weekend to do the trailer. Much to my surprise, they all actually came out for the weekend and everybody had a good time. Nobody got paid, we had fun, and we came up with the teaser that you can watch on the site.

How can fans of the project help contribute?

If you can kick in a few bucks, you can basically pre-order the movie and we have all sorts of cool stuff for contributing to the process. But most importantly, if you don’t have any money and like the project, you can go on social media and have your friends check it out, all of it really helps.

Why did you pick the grindhouse genre for the S.H. script instead of choosing typical Hollywood mainstream fare (action, rom-com, etc.)?

I’ve always been a big of the 50s, 60s, and early 70s B-movie and exploitation films. Particularly the mid-60s Russ Meyers’ films like “Motorpsycho” and its female flipside “Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill!” Those and other films of that ilk always really turned me on. Not in a sexual way per se, although that might have been part of it, just the style and attitude, they all had this real loose fuck-you attitude.

I wanted to create something similar but unfortunately, one of the downsides of a few of those movies is the story. The dialogue and characters could be somewhat thin. I loved the aesthetics and wanted that style but with a more compelling story and more depth to the characters, that was the inspirado for Sinners Holiday.

Did you start as a filmmaker or musician first?

Started as a musician, I was playing in bands semi-professionally starting from the age of 15 through my early 30s. It’s interesting as I get older and move into other things, I realize how much of an education being in a band really is. You’re learning a lot of real life skills and also pretty valuable marketing, diplomacy, and personal management skills. It’s definitely a background I draw upon from a lot in filmmaking now.

What would you tell you a new band that’s out there and just getting started?

Focus on songwriting…period…end of story. You can have the greatest looking band in the world, the coolest singer in the world, but if you don’t have songs nobody will care.

What authors or directors have had the greatest impact on you?

For Sinners Holiday, writers James Ellroy and especially Jim Thompson were major influences. Many darker edged films that were out of the mainstream when I was growing up, the films of David Lynch and Gus Van Sant were intriguing and out of the ordinary. There was an art house theater in D.C. where I grew up. I spent a lot of time there absorbing and watching these interesting and weird foreign films. Those films would stay with me throughout my years as a musician, which eventually led me back into film.

Do you think that American audiences undervalue indie artists?

YES. So many of my music friends in bands can’t get arrested in the states. They make a few pennies doing club tours here but when they travel to Europe, they are selling out festivals. Many of my favorite artists (film and music) struggle to eke out a living applying their craft and barely keep their heads above water.

As an innovative person who has survived the ups and down of the creative world, what are your thoughts on people pursuing their creative dreams?

Whatever you’re doing artistically…be it music, filmmaking, painting, etc… stick with it. If it’s part of your soul and something you can’t stop doing, don’t stop doing it. If you get a chance, check out Sinners Holiday on Kickstarter.

-Kevin McGovern
Fear and Loathing in Long Beach Official Site
… if you’re in the Long Beach area, make sure to grab a copy of our latest issue at Third Eye Records, Rubber Tree, Durty Mick, Fingerprints, and Dead Rockers

…until next time