[Note: Reeler editor S.T. VanAirsdale is taking some time off, but The Reeler is in the good hands of trusted friends and colleagues. Reid Rosefelt is a publicist who used to run a company called Magic Lantern Inc. until he fired himself. Some of the people he has worked with are Errol Morris, Jim Jarmusch, Pedro Almodovar, Lisa Cholodenko, Susan Seidelman, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Eric Rohmer and Tiger the Frog.]
A few years ago, I was listening to the Byrds song, "So You Want to be a Rock 'n' Roll Star," and it got me thinking: Independent film is so ripe for parody. It takes itself so damned seriously. What would it be like to have a song like that for independent film?
I sat down with my guitar and in a few hours I came up with this; it took me a lot longer to record it (mostly with GarageBand, touched up in Logic):
(If You Want To Be An) INDIE FILM MAN
©2005 Reid Rosefelt
If you want to be an INDIE FILM MAN
Get yourself a Handicam
Read the manual if you can and then
Grab yourself a bunch of friends
Tell a story about an indian
Who was a Native American
and he's dealing with being a lesbian
with his mama on the juice
and his daddy in the can
but damned if he don't find redemption in the end
with love and mercy and a truck-driving nun named Dan
Soon you'll be at Sundance
Snow bunnies begging to get in your pants
Agents trying to be your friend
And you'll never go back to Teaneck again.
Gay or straight, a woman or a man
You get laid, it's really great to be an INDIE FILM MAN.
Your film gets shown at a sidebar at Cannes
Where the French girls take off their tops as they tan
Jerry Lewis and you loved by Parisiennes,
Cause you are a true-blue
INDIE FILM MAN
Soon you'll be back at Sundance
You'll meet Bobby Redford and you'll piss in your pants
'Cause you can't believe you got this chance
to be an INDIE FILM MAN.
Why should you have a rock & roll band?
If you can be an INDIE FILM MAN
Soon you got another feature in the can
Starring Harvey Keitel and a chick from Friends
This merry-go-round will never end
You can depend
You'll always win you're an INDIE FILM MAN
The publicity man and the various brands dine and wine you
Movie stars try to get you on the phone
And all your best friends hit a big dead end trying to find you
But in your hotel room you're even more alone
When you can't remember when anything made sense
You little lamb
You're an INDIE FILM MAN.
I tried to sing it as if I was a member of the cast of A Mighty Wind. I sent it out to my friends, and for the most part they seemed to like it, although some were offended. I didn't really get that. It's not like I'm standing on some ivory tower passing judgment on the community. I'm part of that community, and you kid what you love, right?
Anyway, as this is supposed to be a Reeler Pinch Hitter post, I guess I should write something. So here are a few background notes on this legendary song, and the personal details that inspired it.
TITLE: I hate hate hate the term "indie film." I recognize that as the words like "independent film" get twisted like taffy, one solution is to coin meaningless and cute new ones like "indie film." But I squirm every time I hear it. It always sounds to me like it was made up by someone from Nickelodeon. You don't call rap musicians "rappies."
THE FIRST VERSE takes cheap shots at the potpourri of PC ethnicity and gender that you find in Sundance movies. The lyrics sound a little like a tepid '60s Tom Lehrer lyric. I think this is the verse that most offends people.
"AGENTS TRYING TO BE YOUR FRIEND": I represented High Art at Sundance. I have this vivid memory of the moment right after the first screening ended to great applause. As Lisa Cholodenko's parents tried to push through the crowd to congratulate her, they couldn't get anywhere near her. She was surrounded by this cordon of guys in suits pushing business cards in her hand. It was a kind of ugly chaos.
JERRY LEWIS: The lines about Jerry Lewis are meta-cliches but still get laughs. I've written replacements, which I'll put in someday: "They'll shout 'Tres bien!' at your mise en scene!"
ROBERT REDFORD once hired me as a publicity consultant for Sundance. (I had met him years before when I worked on his film The Milagro Beanfield War.) I lasted a year before the Institute mercifully fired me. I like and admire the people at Sundance and think the festival is a great gift. But I also found it weird to walk around with Bob and see really serious independent filmmakers get all googly-eyed. "It's Robert Redford!" "It's Bob!" "Woohoo!"
HARVEY KEITEL was a client of mine for a while. I liked Harvey a lot and it was real fun to represent him ... until he fired me.
FRIENDS: The reference to Friends demonstrates why you shouldn't make topical references. They can get old really quick. But I used to say that when you got a prize at Sundance there was a coupon under it for One Free Movie with a member of the cast of Friends.
EXTRA VERSE: There was another verse I cut out because the song was too long:
"Soon you'll be on IFC
And Merchant Ive-ree
They'll show outtakes on your DVD..."
By the way, I represented IFC for many years. Until they fired me.
ORGAN SOLO: I tried to use the organ solo to swing the song into something darker and more serious. At this point I stop talking about Sundance, and really talk about how scary and lonely and potentially dangerous it is when young people get suddenly successful. The hotel room lyric has to do with my late friend Adrienne Shelly, who hid in her hotel room when she was at Sundance with The Unbelievable Truth and instantly became the hot new thing.
THE PUBLICITY MAN is moi.
A big thank you to Reeler Records for giving me the opportunity to share this musical milestone with you all.
Posted at August 6, 2007 8:46 AM
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