DON’T STOP BELIEVING: “TRIBUTE” FILMMAKERS (part 3)

Have you gotten to meet any of your heroes yet?
KC: No, can you set us up? Laughs
RF: The big thing we’re working on is that Neal Schon of Journey has expressed interest in scoring the soundtrack, because we’ll be replacing some of the songs we have in there now with underscore. So that would be cool. But to meet (Queen guitarist) Brian May, that would be great. Micky Dolenz of the Monkees was at the AFI Fest premiere and talked to me afterwards – that was amazing, just hearing his perspective. I hope Gene Simmons gets to see it at some point, Queen, Journey, all of them. It’ll be interesting.

But meanwhile Brian May still has ten feet of razor-wire installed around his house.
RF: Laughs Yeah, then there’s that.

Let’s talk about Superfan, Mark Eldridge. He’s the only non-musician featured in the film, and his life appears to entirely revolve around Sheer Heart Attack shows.
RF: The story on Mark is that when we hooked up with Sheer Heart Attack, we asked them “Who are your biggest fans? Give us their phone numbers.” So we just called them all and did interviews. And at a certain point with the band and Mark, we realized that the real story there was from the fan’s point of view. Because the band had broken up and they were all okay; Mark was way more affected than they were. That was most interesting to us, so that’s what we pursued. But I think it was sort of a shock for Mark to see the final product.
KC: In many ways I feel very protective of Mark. I think both Rich and I ended up with a deep feeling of how incredibly vulnerable he was, letting us into his interior world. He wasn’t ashamed to admit how really into it he is. It’s a bit out there, but I want people to love him for it. Because we all go there, whatever it is we’re into, whether we admit it or not. So I hope people don’t feel he’s creepy or anything…he’s just really into Queen! And we are too, so there. Maybe he is a little obsessive about it, but that’s why he’s in the movie.

It’s much more a male trait, that obsessiveness about music. Very High Fidelity.
RF: That’s what I found fascinating about Mark. To me, one of the themes I related to was that obsessiveness. I know I’m an obsessive music fan, so I wanted to explore the question of what is too much? Or is it not too much? I mean, Mark does have a job, a nice apartment, a nice car. He’s a great guy, he has lots of friends. But there is this central part of his life that most of society would look at and say “You’re too into this.” My analysis of Mark is that he’s replaced what for many people would be religion with this one band, Queen. They mean that much to him, they get him through the day. He reads the lyrics and relates to them in a very meaningful way. It just gets him through life. Well, what’s wrong with that? Almost everyone believes in some sort of God or religion, it’s a free country, and maybe it’s not any crazier for Mark to believe in Queen than it is for two people to believe in two separate religions. At the same time, I can see how most people wouldn’t look at it that way. They might think it’s blasphemous or crazy – but who are they to judge?
KC: It’s interesting that you noticed the obsessive thing as a male quality. That’s something Rich and I have been debating. When we first talked about tribute bands, long before we started shooting, it took me a while to understand what he was seeing in it. As a woman, that male obsession with rock and roll, trivia and everything does seem…it’s a guy’s world. Tribute bands are definitely a guy thing. Culturally, it’s fascinating to me – it’s foreign, but not that foreign. I found it really intriguing, that intensity.
RF: There’s always someone more into it than you, too. You think you’re the biggest fan possible, but there’s always someone who’s beyond you, like Mark.
KC: And having the film really be about obsession…many times it was very easy for us to identify with the guys in the movie. There’s a lot that’s very personal about it. As far as the humor in it, a lot of stuff in my life is pretty ridiculous so I understand. I identify with it.
RF: You don’t put on a tutu, though.

There’s a wonderful moment when Superfan Mark is sitting in his car outside Brian May’s house, talking about the spirit of Freddie Mercury, while the name “Di” – with a huge heart around it – is being written in the sky above. What was that like?
KC: I was in the front seat with him, in his Camaro. The ride was all bumpy and I was just holding on, trying to keep an image. I wasn’t really listening – Rich was running audio that day. So he was actually “in the moment” with him.
RF: Yeah, I was talking to him. It took me a while to figure out what was going on, because Mark started talking about it and I didn’t understand. Then I looked up and saw the skywriting. I basically asked him to keep explaining, “What exactly are you seeing here? What do you think it means?” When things like that happen, you know you’re in an intense moment but you can’t totally experience it because you’re… documenting it. But you’re in the other person’s world as much as possible, so it actually doesn’t seem strange in the moment. Then later, when you think about it, you realize “Oh wow, that was kind of crazy.”

It’s one of the funniest moments in the film, and also an amazing sort of coincidence. That must have been in August 1997 then, right after Princess Diana died?
KC: I think it was actually the one-year anniversary. So that was about three years ago.

When did you first start shooting?
RF: About four years ago or so.

What initially inspired the film? What attracted you to this subject?
KC: Rich has a story about that.
RF: What inspired it for me was, as a Queen fan, discovering a Queen tribute band. A friend brought me the flyer for Sheer Heart Attack, the band in the movie. We went to check it out at FM Station in the Valley, which was tribute band heaven at that time. We were laughing about it, thinking it was going to be funny. And it was sort of funny, but we were also surprised – and a little disturbed – at how much we enjoyed it. We were just sucked in by the experience. It was very powerful, because Enrique (Segura, the “Freddie Mercury” figure) had so much energy and passion onstage. They opened the show by playing the entire Black Side of Queen II, which would be pretty obscure to non-fans.

Yeah, I was amazed that they actually played good old “Ogre Battle” in the film.
RF: “Ogre Battle,” exactly. Alright, Queen fan in the house! Laughs Anyway, that show was very impressive and it all began as a fascination with Sheer Heart Attack. My friend and I would really look forward to these shows as big events, like Superfan talks about in the movie. We definitely had a sense of humor about it, and we realized how absurd it was that we were putting so much emphasis on these tribute shows. But at the same time, we were genuinely excited and always looked forward to them. And I remember that when Enrique left the band, it was a big topic of conversation: What’s going to happen to our Sheer Heart Attack shows? That led us into the story, realizing how much emotional attachment we had to the band and the music. I mean, I had never really planned on making a documentary; it was only because I was so passionate about this subject. It wasn’t just this kitschy thing.
KC: It sort of started out as a kitschy thing, but when you experience it and get into it, sometimes there is this totally intangible magic going on. You truly are transported. I mean, you never really leave your body enough to forget the irony of what’s happening, but there is magic in being taken back to this special time in your life.
RF: Enrique was really one of a kind, and it doesn’t surprise me that the band hasn’t been able to replace him in three years. He’s still in Germany; I think he’s in “The Lion King” there now. I’ve just come to accept that they’ll probably never be able to replace him, but it kills me because I want more than anything to be able to see them again.

They’re like the real Queen in that way, aren’t they?
RF: Exactly like Queen. Even if they tried, no matter who they got you’d say, “It’s not the same. It’s not Freddie.” Same thing with Sheer Heart Attack. All the fans would just say, “It’s not Enrique.” Why do it if it’s not Enrique?
KC: No one has the range. He just has those Broadway pipes that can blow away the back row. You would have to combine like four different singers to equal Enrique. Playing Freddie is as tough as it gets.

Get the whole story in part four of DON’T STOP BELIEVING: “TRIBUTE” FILMMAKERS>>>




Posted on February 6, 2004 in Interviews by
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