New York Independent
Moses looks at a short docudrama and how it was made
25-year-old Roy Szuper
may not have a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, but there's
no denying that he must have been born under a lucky star. After
all, it's not everyone who has the IRS to thank for giving them
their much-needed start. Which isn't to give short shrift to
all the hard work that went into the making of Szuper's premiere
docudrama short, CONCERT JOE: A NEW YORK STORY. .But without
the $1,000 income tax refund that provided the initial funding
for his project, a good idea might very well have remained just
Szuper met Concert Joe,
the subject of his film, through a mutual friend. Finding himself
with some free time on his hands, he started working with Joe
to put together the 30-minute short.
What was so compelling about Joe
that it warranted the making of a film? Some people collect stamps.
Some people collect porcelain pigs. Concert Joe collects ticket
stubs, t-shirts and bootleg tapes from the 1,000+ concerts he's
attended each year for the past 25 years. Shelling out an average
of $50 a night at virtually every kind of musical venue this
city has to offer, Joe hits anywhere from 3 to 8 concerts a night.
And he's got the planning of it down to an exact and funky science.
The film is a kitschy, tongue-in-cheek
farce on Joe's obsessive-compulsive concert-going lifestyle,
starring Concert Joe himself and shot in documentary format.
It flawlessly combines live concert footage shot in a smattering
of NYC clubs with a humorous fictional narrative, rooted heavily
playing the role of Storyteller, bringing a drum to the protest
Thanks to a lot of outside forces
working in tandem, Szuper was able to complete his masterpiece
for a miniscule $7,000. Editor Christopher Koons saved Szuper
close to $20,000 by letting the film maker edit his work, free
of charge, at the editing suites where Koons works during the
day. Szuper was also amazingly spared the sometimes exorbitant
costs film makers can rack up by shooting on location.
Richard Siegal, Mark Cavello and Soundman Andrew Sterling trekking
through a rainy Central Park.
"The film's about New York and
the New York City music scene," says Szuper. "Everyone
talks about the Seattle music scene but the New York music scene
has a lot of incredible bands coming out. More than that, it's
about one man's love of music and how it affects his life. I'm
from New York. He's from New York. So it's about two guys and
the knowledge of the city.
Due to the mish-mosh of the film
stock, filming techniques and editing equipment used, CONCERT
JOE has a look to it that many an experienced film maker would
be hard-pressed to duplicate. "We used everything we could
get our hands on," says Szuper. "We started with film
and we shot everything from hi 8 video to 16mm to S-8. It's about
half film, half video." You would think, for all that, the
short would have a busy, distracting look to it, but it doesn't.
It's remarkably polished and highly unified.
Because Joe knew a lot of the club
owners and bands, the majority of the venues were willing to
let Szuper film inside for free, as a favor to their faithful
patron. The sound girl on the film just so happened to be involved
in coordinating The Knitting Factory's screening series. So it
was a breeze for her to fit Szuper into the schedule for what
will be his official public screening.
With the praise CONCERT JOE is bound
to receive, Szuper can safely step out from beneath his lucky
star and be content to just swing on it for awhile.