Hi Roeland, thanks for joining us today! We’re super stoked to see your Rockumentary Grunn project being played at IN-EDIT in a few weeks! Can you explain a little bit about the project, and also more on your short documentary called ‘Open the Gate’? How did you come up with this idea?
Great to be here, yes thanks! Well it started in 2014, when I was working on a film about Herman Brood with Piet Wichers and Evert Winkel, who collected a lot of footage of Herman showing how he changed musically over many years; from a guy playing in a school canteen with a piano and a set of drums and ending up with a big band at the main square in Groningen. It was really fascinating to watch.
The guys that filmed Herman all those years spoke about a lot of crazy stories that they witnessed, and that’s where I realized that behind pieces of footage, there must be dozens of stories to tell; this was obviously not the only one!
I joined up with Carla Wolbers who had access to hours’ worth of recordings from concerts in Groningen and decided to start a project using archival material and focus on ordinary people from Groningen who had done something amazing with music and which changed their lives.
We wanted to create 10 mini stories behind the artist and band that have already been long forgotten, but also about people who had inspiring stories to tell about something the experienced in music and changed their live. For example, one story shows a guy who claimed he cycled for one hour with Bob Dylan in the north of Groningen. We tried to figure out whether it’s true or not, and the documentary is basically about 3 people looking back at that time.
Let’s talk about your film, ‘Open the Gate’, what is it about? Why did you feel this was such an important piece to film about?
The band ‘Vortex’ is a heavy metal band, founded in the beginning of the 80s. They entered and won a contest and used the money to create a professional music video, which in those times, had never been done before, especially in Groningen.
Their video clip Open the Gate shows a group of bikers storming a castle, and it’s hilarious. It was filmed in Groningen which is a place where people say, ‘be normal, that’s good enough’. But Vortex were really strange; they had shows with fireworks; they painted themselves; the singer in the movie says, ‘people from Groningen think we are strange. They know that we can play music, but the theatrical performances they can’t understand…but it’s what we like to do.’ And the whole theatre show around it was really cool, no one did it before them and not after them!
Everyone in Groningen is so down to earth, so it’s funny that those guys were so eccentric, it made them stand out and that’s why we chose to tell this story because that video clip was important back then.
So how long did it take to get the Rockumentary Grunn project finished?
We did the project together with the Groningen Archives. They can digitalize archival footage and have a license to stream concerts and documentaries. We wanted to build a site where you can watch everything, but no one wants to just watch a concert anymore, so in 2016 we started talking about how to develop a project which tell stories behind all the archival footage and it took about 6 months in total to finish.
Do you think it’s good that there’s a new platform like ‘IN-EDIT Festival’ where you can show these short documentaries?
Yes absolutely! There are so many movies made every year and it’s great there are platforms that make a nice selection.
Which documentary out of the four showing at IN-EDIT Festival would you say is your favourite?
That’s too difficult!
I guess Little Ritz is kind of special to me because Koen (the Director) had never made a movie before. He’s a researcher but created a website back in the day which was called Archives, which is a collection of local archives dedicated to pop music. Koen created this and researched a lot of materials, which became the essence of the pop music archives. I told Koen “you know everything about pop music, so do you want to make a music documentary about something?”
He wanted to do it about the band ‘Little Ritz’. He’d found this footage of concerts they did back in 1961 and we used the recordings and photographs to create a 50’s documentary. The photograph on IN-EDIT’s website shows all the band, but only three of them and the manager are still alive today, and they’re all in their 80s. We let them hear themselves play in 1961 in Germany, which they’d never heard before and didn’t know existed. That was kind of special.
Another great story is ‘Come Correct’. This is a great example of how we get our footage on a mouth to mouth basis. My colleague knew a guy who used to be a rapper from the town he grew up in. After the second world war, Philips company opened up a factory there, and hired people from other countries like Morocco and Italy, who brought their children, who grew up there and started making hip hop music, developing breakdance and graffiti in the 80’s and 90’s. In a small, faraway place in the east of Netherlands, gave rise to a vibrating hip hop scene.
And are you looking forward to any documentaries playing at IN-EDIT?
Yes of course! You’re doing the pop documentary about Allin. I never knew about him, he’s a strange guy though. I saw a picture of a guy sitting on a grave stone and taking a dump, and I thought ‘wow this is crazy’. And I googled the name on the grave stone because I thought wow what has that guy done? And it came into a story of the singer, so it will be interesting to see the movie they made about him.
Great! And you’ll be at IN-EDIT?
Yes, we’ll be giving a presentation on what we’ve been doing. After that we will do a Q&A with the directors of the four short documentaries. We’re really looking forward to it! We hope to see you there!
Candice von der Wehl