Surge soda — a caffeinated drink from Coca Cola that had a cult following while it was produced between 1996 and 2003, is returning to the shelves. Why do we care? Because we (Barry Poltermann & Steve Farr) directed most of the SURGE commercials back in the late 90’s! (watch for the most inside of inside moments in “American Movie”, where Mike tells Uncle Bill “It’s a brand new soda form Coca-Cola, it’s called SURGE.”)
In 2014, Coca-Cola began selling limited supplies of the drink on Amazon. Sales were strong, but it wasn’t until three hyperfans—Evan Carr, Sean Sheridan, and Matt Winans—began a viral social media campaign that the so-called Surge Movement really got off the ground.
The campaign’s shining moment occurred when thousands of people donated to buy a billboard in 2013 about a half mile from Coca-Cola’s Atlanta headquarters that read “Dear Coke, we couldn’t buy Surge so we bought this billboard instead.”
Some other Surge spots we directed, circa 1997:
(Documentary Short Series, Native Advertising)
WFD is a sporting event that challenges speed drummers and employs an instrument called the Drumometer that counts drum strokes. The Drumometer is accepted by both the Guinness World Records organization and the WFD Extreme Sport Drumming competition as the official device used to determine the World’s Fastest Drummer.
The primary goal of the competition is to determine who can play the most single strokes in sixty seconds. There are a variety of categories and World Records involved in WFD. After experimenting with various WFD competition formats in the United States, the event achieved international prominence as contestants began traveling from around the globe to compete at WFD World Finals.
We were hired to create this piece by Church’s Chicken, who is an official sponsor of the competition as well as this short film that tracks the lives of select WFD competitors from across the globe and their journey to the championships.
Director: Jack Davidson
Editor: Michael Vollmann
(Music Video, MARITIME, 2015)
“Satellite Love” from Maritime’s upcoming album “Magnetic Bodies/Maps of Bones” available now on Dangerbird Records.
Vice says: “Maritime’s sound is aging beautifully” and “all killer no filler”.
The AV Club gives the album a very strong B+.
And Paste Magazine says Maritime has a “musical identity that’s been evolving on its own for a dozen years, centered on a passionate and skillful songcraft”.
Congratulations to Dan and bandmates Davey von Bohlen, Dan Hinz, and Justin Klug.
For other music videos and odds and ends, explore the Attic.
“Fast Company” from director Jack Davidson premiered this Friday at the Music City Center in Nashville, TN. More than 300 drummers from across the world faced off in the 2015 World’s Fastest Drummer (WFD) World Finals.
Braxton Burke, twenty-one, from Langley, KY, took home the title as the Hands Champion, with a 953 strokes-in-one-minute performance. Joshua Robinson, from Washington, DC, was named Foot Champion, registering 899 strokes in one minute.
Church’s Chicken celebrated the world finals by hosting several drumming-themed events, including the premiere of Fast Company. The film features the lives of some of the people who make World’s Fastest Drummer possible, including former champions and the founding members of the competition.
Festival Talk says:
“Fast Company is a fun short documentary film with a unique flavor. World’s Fastest Drummer is a competition that calls itself “extreme sport drumming” for good reason, how many drum beats per minute can a person bang out? If you think 100 or 150, you’d be way off. It can run into a thousand. Fast Company is a quick glimpse into the competition created by legendary musician and world record holder Boo McAfee. In 1981, Boo drummed for 738 hours. That’s not a typo, the man actually did that.
With short blasts of interviews with contestants and past contestants, we see inside this crazy fascinating competition. One that is growing each year in size and popularity. The whole thing was made possible by the “Drumometer” a cool piece of tech I quickly became fascinated with. Folks of all ages enjoy competing and revisit the competition each year. There’s a strong competitiveness with the contestants, you find yourself rooting for one or the other. The film, brought to us by About Face Media and sponsored by Church’s Chicken (because who else knows drumsticks better?) played at this year’s Milwaukee Show at the MKE Film Festival. It was met by rousing applause, especially when Boo himself took the stage with his fellow film makers for a quick Q&A afterward. We had a chance to meet Boo and asked him a few questions. He is a genuinely kind man who was grateful for the positive reception of the film. I did ask about the possibility of a WFD competition here in Milwaukee, Boo said its possible so start brushing up your skills, I know I am. I really enjoyed Fast Company, if you see it coming to your area, be sure to catch a screening.”
In “ONCE UPON A TIME IN NASHVILLE: THE DEATH OF HANK WILLIAMS” musician Don Helms recounts the death of Hank Williams. It is a short clip of a longer experimental documentary project that Frank Anderson is directing.
September Club’s own Manny Marquez‘s new documentary short is playing this weekend in Portland at the FILMED BY BIKE Film Festival.
Manny is a cycling enthusiast. His love for the sport started while filming a September Club documentary for Trek at the 2009 Tour De France. It has since changed his life – he went from 300 pounds at the time when he began cycling to 170 today. He is happier and healthier. And he made a documentary about his hometown, Hood River, Oregon bike race as a love letter to cycling – and the fascinating people involved.
This week, his film, “IngerUcker: Beyond Fingerdome”, plays the Filmed By Bike Festival in Portland, Oregon.
For more on Manny’s film and his love of cycling, check out this interview he did with Filmed By Bike.
Look for Manny’s work on the big screen and online, and look for Manny riding a bike near you.
(Music Video, IRON & WINE, 2015)
Celebrated singer-songwriter Iron & Wine has just released a new music video for “Everyone’s Summer Of ’95”, co-directed by September Clubber Erin Elders and featuring our friend David Dastmalchian (“Animals”). It’s an exclusive today on IndieWire.
For over a decade, the prolific Sam Beam has been releasing albums to great acclaim under the moniker Iron & Wine. Carving out a distinct niche, his music falls between indie and folk, but is not contained by the boxes of either genre. And fans of the musician have a lot to look forward to in 2015. In July, he’ll release his next full length, Sing Into Your Mouth, but on store shelves now is Archive Series Volume No. 1. As the title suggests, it’s a crate-digging affair by Beam, who has gone through unreleased home recordings and demos and made them available for the first time. And today we have the exclusive video premiere for “Everyone’s Summer Of ’95”.
Featuring David Dastmalchian, and directed by Erin Elders and Jeff Tomcho, the video is a moody piece set across one night, with a wrestling match at the centre. It pairs nicely with the more sombre shades of Iron & Wine’s song.
Directed by Erin Elders & Jeff Tomcho
Starring David Dastmalchian (“Animals”)
For other music videos and odds and ends, explore the Attic.
The trailer for ANIMALS dropped today, and The Dissolve says:
The first trailer for Animals makes it pretty clear why the film struck such a chord with the SXSW audience. It’s not over-the-top, melodramatic, or cheap, and despite a short runtime—less than two minutes—it delivers the maximum of emotion and story. It’s a good trailer, but it looks like it’s advertising an even better film.
Jeremy Coon and Tim Skousen’s documentary “Raiders!: The Story of The Greatest Fan Film Ever Made” premiered this week at SXSW. We edited “Raiders!” here at September Club… with our own Barry Poltermann taking the lead.
IndieWire: Raiders! is an exhilarating documentary for anybody who has dreamed big.
SlashFilm: It’s a beautiful, inspiring story told with a ton of excitement and context. Plus, in the end, you realize this isn’t just about making movies. It’s about the struggle and accomplishment of fulfilling your dreams.
Variety: Often poignant, occasionally pathetic, but never short of entertaining, “Raiders!” captures the obsessive hold movies have on young people’s imaginations…
Congratulations to the whole team!
More on the film at its official site.
CNN has acquired “The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers” out of Sundance. The short documentary was directed by Michael Vollmann (our Senior Editor) and produced by Chris James Thompson (“The Jeffrey Dammer Files”, “MECCA: The Floor”)… one of our most prolific directors.
From Filmmaker Magazine.
The documentary will lead off a new CNN initiative – a short-form series. More info at Deadline.
Congratulations to Michael, producer Chris, and the entire 414s team!
UPDATE: You can watch the film on CNN here.
September Club director Chris James Thompson and Head Editor Michael T. Vollmann‘s newest short documentary, “The 414s: The Original Teenage Hackers”, premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this week.
The film, directed by Vollmann and produced by Thompson, examines the first widely recognized computer hackers, a group of Milwaukee teenagers who broke into dozens of prominent computer systems including the Los Alamos National Laboratory and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in 1983, and inspired the term “hacker.”
Congratulations to Vollmann, Thompson, and the entire team that worked on The 414s!
(Documentary Short, 2014)
We are excited to see that ESPN’s 30 For 30 Shorts won the Emmy Award for Outstanding Short-Format Non-Fiction Program. We contributed to the series with Chris James Thompson and Michael Vollmann‘s “MECCA: The Floor”
30 for 30 Shorts was nominated alongside other popular programs “Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee,” “COSMOS: A National Geographic Deeper Dive,” “I Was There: Boston Marathon Bombings,” “Jay Leno’s Garage” and “Park Bench With Steve Buscemi.”
Dan Silver, who oversees the series for ESPN, said this of the series after the win:
We started this series with a very simple, but ambitious goal: “How can we make, distribute, and monetize cinematic quality short-form content that is platform agnostic?” Meaning, these aren’t just pieces that live on the web, but rather, across all of ESPN’s outlets – web, TV, social, etc. So the reason why I’m so ecstatic about this win is that it’s a validation of the hard work and collaboration of many different people, from many departments across our company, essentially creating something from nothing.
Check out some of the series’ other great films at ESPN.
Manny’s brother recently adopted the dog, who has been released from it’s military service. Manny traveled to North Carolina with his brother, his mother, Kellie Marquez, his brothers Anthony and Alexander Marquez — a true family affair.
Shortly after landing in Tulsa, Kellie Marquez put the journey in perspective.
“It was incredible, it really was,” she said. “This has been one of the most enjoyable 20 hours I’ve spent in my life.
In the newest ESPN 30 for 30 short “MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous” filmmaker Chris James Thompson has captured a unique, however unlikely, piece of Milwaukee sports and art history lore. The Mecca Arena, as it was once called, (now the U.S. Cellular Arena) was home to the Milwaukee Bucks (1970 – 88) and the Marquette Warriors (now the Marquette Golden Eagles) basketball teams as well as a venue for other events.
In 1977, the worse-for-wear arena floor was replaced, but it would be no ordinary basketball court because it just so happened that renowned Pop artist Robert Indiana was commissioned to design a new floor – a massive, utilitarian art work. That in itself, along with Indiana’s $27,500 fee, was a point of contention among many as well as a sense of fascination to others. Indiana had created the uber-famous “Love” icon which permeated 1970’s American culture, landing on hats, t-shirts and even a postage stamp. Now he was on to something else.
But until recently, that floor was languishing in a Missouri warehouse waiting to be sold off, until a few determined Milwaukee Bucks fans saved the day. Andy Gorzalski, Greg Koller, (who initiated the idea and sadly passed away) and his son Ben put themselves out on a financial limb to rescue the floor. And for one amazing summer night in 2013, that floor was reassembled to celebrate and relive a bygone era.
Chris Thompson, a venerated filmmaker whose last effort “The Jeffrey Dahmer Files,” (picked up by IFC) chillingly retold the grisly account of Milwaukee’s notorious serial killer, this time, along with a bevy of local filmmakers, portrayed a much more positive slant to the city in documenting this magical effort of recapturing the Arena‘s floor. Chris explained to me this fascinating story of the historic floor and its glorious return to form.
“What happened was Andy Gorzalski, who is a friend of mine and an avid Bucks fan here in Milwaukee…had just put his credit card down to purchase the Milwaukee Bucks basketball court from the old MECCA Arena in the 1970′s in Milwaukee for $20,000…but he didn’t actually have $20,000.”
But that little fact did not stop Andy…
Chris continued: “Even though he’s a hard working guy, he’s not a wealthy person…but he was so passionate about this floor and what it meant to him and having gone to games with his dad when he was a young boy and seeing the court and all his heroes for the Bucks playing on it. He just couldn’t imagine the court being sent away or shipped off to another country or chopped up…he really was passionate that it needed to stay in one piece and it needed to stay in Milwaukee.”
Obviously, that determination paid off and Chris realized as a filmmaker, that it was “impossible not to get on board with him and see where the story went…You know when you hear from a third party that someone bought a court for $20,000 it seems a bit ludicrous, but when you spend a few minutes with Andy it starts to make sense somehow.”
Upon his first meeting with Andy, the Arena’s history was fondly explained to Chris: Robert Indiana painting the beautiful floor, the Bucks winning the championship, Marquette winning a championship, and many great basketball players playing on the floor and other events that were happening in there, and how it was such a beloved venue, a MECCA in many senses of the word for so many people.
Yet before the intervention of Andy, Greg and Ben, it was amazing that some art aficionado didn’t snap it up first. Or was it because sports and art somehow don’t generally mix?
Chris reflected that “Robert Indiana is such a prolific artist, and the project itself was so unique: to paint every square inch of an entire basketball court had never been done before… (it could very well be) the largest pop art painting in the history of the world…There was lots of different opinions on how much it was worth…a single piece of art can be…priceless in some people’s opinions, and it could be completely worthless in other people’s opinions.”
And in reality, what could one actually do with such a massive and cantankerous proposition?
It’s an enormous floor, weighing thousands of pounds and it takes up so much space that there are very few buildings that it could actually be displayed in or even stored in safely.
“That was another part of the story, that more capital-minded art dealers, salvage people and scrap people thought…it could live on as maybe many different floors for different buildings or different rooms or even cut into table tops or even wall mounted pieces if you cut the wood small enough…which to Andy and a lot of Bucks fans just sounds like a nightmare.” Indeed.
As to the logistics of the task at hand, Chris informed me that “The floor belonged to an organization called the Wisconsin Center District which owns those buildings, the Expo Center and the MECCA…They were the ones that were trying to sell it and were the ones indirectly that Andy was purchasing the floor through, via a website called “Planet Reuse,” so once they found it that this is a local Bucks fan that was going to buy the floor and wanted it to stay as all once piece, I think they sort of worked in cooperation, realizing, hey there’s some interest here. It would be great to have a single night where we could display the floor again, and all these Bucks fans can come back and remember what this floor looked like in its original home inside the MECCA. I’m not sure financially what the agreement was, but I think they were all pretty friendly because they realized the significance of this night and how important it was to the city.”
And Chris, aided with a lot of enthusiastic Milwaukee filmmakers, helped capture the events surrounding the pilgrimage of the floor to make sure as much could be preserved of the story as possible. Along the way, such luminaries as Sidney Moncrief (Milwaukee Bucks) and Doc Rivers (Marquette) weighed in with fond memories of time spent playing on that court.
Being older than Chris, I had to enlighten him that the arena was also home to the hard rock/heavy metal concert culture in the late 70′s and the 80′s. So, a lot of people didn’t know the arena as an exclusive sports arena but as a concert venue. And I related an infamous event to Chris: “It was around 1980, or ’81, and Black Sabbath and Blue Öyster Cult were on tour and this is when Ozzy Osbourne had left Black Sabbath, and Ronnie James Dio was now their lead singer. Well anyway, a lot of fans were just so vengeful that Ozzy Osbourne wasn’t the singer – that in Milwaukee during the second or third song that Black Sabbath played – someone threw a beer bottle and it hit one of the Black Sabbath members.”
“Black Sabbath was taken off the stage and a riot ensued where they tore up the Arena seats, the sound equipment, and everything. That made headlines. That was a huge thing. The mayor I believe banned Black Sabbath from coming back to Milwaukee. Anyway, they ripped up the Arena.” Those were the days.
As for what’s next on the plate for Chris, he informed me that he‘s been “…really interested in learning about the prison at Guantanamo Bay. Also, the rendition program that the U.S. Government was operating in the early part of the 2000′s in trying to combat the war on terror. I’ve been exploring the idea of making a feature film covering some of those topics, and I’ve done some interviews and a lot of research for a few years.” Sounds like it’s back to the heavy stuff again.
As to the future of the MECCA Arena, the naming rights were just resold, so it’s a good guess that the venue will be around for some time to come even though it lives in the much larger shadow of the Bradley Center (which is now home to the Bucks). Ironically, in 2013 a new floor was installed in the Bradley Center to pay homage to the Robert Indiana floor. Not bad.
“MECCA: The Floor That Made Milwaukee Famous” premiered on Grantland.com here.
From Manny Marquez: “This film documents the days leading up to the birth of my second son, Levon. My wife was almost two weeks overdue with the baby. Although anxious in awaiting the birth, I was inspired to watch my wife and oldest son, Gus, just loving each other and enjoying life that week. I built up my camera, and started capturing just one moment per day. I told my wife that I hoped the baby would be born on Friday, that way I’d have enough for a film. Well, Levon didn’t let me down, because on the 5th day he arrived! I consider this a documentary, because the days in the film are the actual days counted down until Levon was born on May 2, 2014 at 11:37am. Thanks for watching, and I hope you enjoy. “
This film is for Leigh, Gus, and Levon. I love you, my dear family…you inspire me daily.
“Shouts Out & Goodnight” by Boxing. Hear it on the album, “Dig the Final Time.”
Special thanks to Josh & Seth Kasselman for the music.
And to Yvette Blanchette and Shannon, our midwives, for safe delivery of the baby!
(Music Video, THE EMPERORS OF WYOMING, 2014)
Emperors Of Wyoming boasts a seamless melding of American roots music country-and-western, bluegrass and folk bridging new and old. Cutting edge technology is used to record mainly venerable acoustic instruments. The mix of rootsy styles is spiced with subtle hints of spaghetti western, surf-music, hard rock and pop-rock into a distinctive and original sound.
The Emperors are Butch Vig, Phil Davis, Frank Anderson and Peter Anderson
Directed and Animated by Frank Anderson (The Life of Reilly).
For other music videos and odds and ends, explore the Attic.
We are sad to hear that our friend Michael Ruppert had died. He was 63. Michael was the subject of the documentary, COLLAPSE, which we edited in 2009.
This is Michael’s last broadcast of the Lifeboat Hour on PRN 13 April 2014.
According to Variety:
The jury awarded him for his physically demanding portrayal of a homeless addict.
“I hope that anyone who sees this movie remembers, you never give up on people,” Dastmalchian said