Monday, September 28, 2009

EDGE THE MOVIE

One day while updating the friend requests on the Seventh Dagger myspace I was pleasantly surprised to get a request from the myspace page promoting EDGE THE MOVIE. I immediately went to the page to watch the trailer and was completely stoked on what I saw. So I wrote Marc and Michi and asked if they would mind doing an interview about their movie. Below is the conversation that transpired.

Name, age, where do you guys call home?

Marc, 31, living in M√ľnster, Germany.
Michi, 30, relocating somewhere in Germany right now.

What is it that made you take on the task of making a documentary about straightedge?

Michi: The initial idea for my diploma thesis was to do some research on the core values of Straight Edge, the reasons why people decided to live a drug free life and if there are any commonalities or regularities. But unfortunately I could not convince my professor with my idea... so I ended up writing an analysis of Marxist Development Studies, which was a good decision after all. What fascinates me about Straight Edge is that there are so many different people with different lives and backgrounds but all identify and gather under the 'label' of Straight Edge. The other thing that kept my interest is that there is somehow a certain conservative element of not drinking, not using drugs or having promiscuous sex that weaved it's way into the principles of Straight Edge - and I guess every mother would love if her daughter or son followed those ideas. But on the other hand Straight Edge is Punk, the rebellion against society and (hopefully) most of the times connected to radical politics. Not to mention that a lot of people would characterize the music taste and the entire habitus as extreme...

Marc: I was involved in shooting a short documentary a few years ago and because Michi and I are really good friends we exchanged experiences and ideas about our current projects back then, so the idea came up to do a sociological view on Straight Edge in form of a documentary in the U.S. There are already some good books about Straight Edge, but no one had ever made a balanced documentary, so why not make one? The whole project took us about 3 years until now. We shoot it two years ago in 2007 and the process of editing took us almost two years, since we did this completely as a side project.

I saw you have interviews with Ian MacKaye (Minor Threat/Fugazi), Ray Cappo (Youth of Today/Shelter) and Karl Buechner (Earth Crisis) can you tell us who else you interviewed? How was interviewing all these people?

Marc: We interviewed 12 people all together, but we wanted to have musicians as well as people like you and me, so that if you watch it and you don't know anything about Straight Edge, you realize that being drug free is the most normal thing for these people. We chose Ian, Ray and Karl to talk about the certain era's of Straight Edge, and to get a little historical background. It was fun to talk to all of them, although it was not that easy to convince Ian and Ray to do the interviews at first. I think Ian is really cautious with everything regarding Straight Edge, since this all started from a song he wrote. But I'm glad that we have his views in the film. Hearing what he had to say made me understand Straight Edge much better.

Tell us how you approached documenting a realistic portrayal of straightedge?

Michi: We planned to shoot the Edge Day show in 2007 in Massachusetts, and we were quite surprised to find a team of National Geographic there, doing the same - obviously with a huge crew and massive equipment. In the end we saw, in my opinion, a very biased view on Straight Edge, dominated solely by the violence and militancy that has been reported on extensively by network news media in the past years.Our documentary is 'a little' different from the previous ones - we don't have a narrator because we want the viewer to draw his or her own picture from the statements given. We used structured in-depth interviews to get really close to each persons opinions, ideas and thoughts. The result is a balanced view, you hear about the positive and the negative aspects of Straight Edge. I think unfortunately no one can deny that besides all those wonderful ideas that help people to stay away from drugs and lead a positive, conscious, active and healthier lifestyle, there are problems in the scene, e.g. homophobia, violence and machismo.

How hard was it lining up the U.S. and Canada screenings and what should people expect when they attend these?

Marc: It meant writing lots and lots of emails. It sure is a little difficult to plan a tour from another continent, but we lined up some really cool screening locations, like libraries, churches, cafes, basements, a bike repair place and of course some really nice old movie theatres.People can except to see an interesting movie about different people that are all connected through the idea of Straight Edge. The viewer will find out why they decided to live a 'clean' lifestyle and how this influences their everyday life. If there is time we'll have a Q&A session afterwards. In Chicago we'll do that together with Brian Peterson, the author of the Burning Fight book. I think that should be really interesting and in Indianapolis EDGE will be a screened after the Bane and Foundation show. Oh, and for the Seattle screening we can offer free popcorn! Just thought that might be worth mentioning.

You were accepted in two different film festivals that's really exciting can you tell us a little about those?

Michi: The Radar International Film Festival in Hamburg, Germany takes place in St. Pauli, the alternative district of Hamburg. It has a massive line up of films from around the world and we are very happy to screen our documentary there. The Mission Underground Film Festival in San Francisco is a smaller festival with a focus on independent cinema.

What do you hope people get out of watching your film?

Marc: All the Straight kids should get some very interesting insights into others peoples reasons for being Straight Edge; everyone else will see that Straight Edge is everything else but a gang. All the people we've talked to for the movie explained how their decision to live 'poison free' has changed their lives. A lot of them have either struggled with addiction themselves, or have seen the lives of friends or relatives being destroyed by it. And at the same time drugs are so accepted and glorified in society that it's still frowned upon to oppose drugs. So that becomes clear in our film, and hopefully will make others think about it.

Any final words or thoughts, things we missed?

Michi: The EDGE World Premiere is on October 3rd in New York, a few tickets are still available. For a complete list of screenings dates check out our website: http://www.edgethemovie.com/ The DVD with lots of extras, e.g. deleted scenes, an audio commentary by the directors, a making of etc., will be released in early 2010 - so stay tuned!

CHECK OUT THE TRAILER HERE:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G_c9v9G5-xs

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

MATT MILLER INTERVIEW

Matt Miller is a phenomenal photographer, member of Most Precious Blood, 16 year straightedge veteran and all around really great guy. Here is a little interview I did with him along with some photos that he took. If you need a wedding photographer who won't take the same boring shots your friends wedding albums have look this guy up now!



How did you find out about straightedge and what led you to make the decision to become straightedge?

When I fell in love with skateboarding, punk rock came hand in hand with it. The first punk band I ever heard was 7 Seconds, it was on a blank cassette tape and I thought it was all just one song on each side. I never really had anyone show me the ropes when I first got into everything so it was a lot of searching on my own. I came across the Minor Threat record and I actually had the lyric sheet to that, but at that time the SXE thing didn't really click. I was into getting stoned and drinking and at one point I was really heavy into taking acid. That was all when I was in 7th grade. I got picked on a lot in school and used that shit to get away. When 8th grade hit, that's when Nirvana became cool to listen to and all of a sudden it was OK to be punk and be a skateboarder. All the jocks in my school were buying weed off me and they were inviting me to parties and shit. It was wild and I was enjoying it until I started to go overboard. I barely went to school and my freshman year of high school I only passed 2 classes, art and PE. My parents kind of knew something was wrong and searched my room, found my shit and sent me and my brother to rehab. I spent 3 weeks away and had to take AA and NA classes and see a therapist. Honestly I don't think any of that really helped me, what made me stop was I had random drug testing for a year and if they were to find anything on me, I would go to juvenile detention. So basically I couldn't do anything that would be traced in my system. I never liked drinking all that much and I hated cigarettes, so I resorted to doing really stupid shit like inhalants. The day I said I would never do a drug again was when I was behind my parents house with a couple of friends inhaling freon from the air conditioner. This guy Glenn that was there with us was a greaser, you know the dude who wears only white shirts tucked in and black 3 hole Doc Martins. He took a big hit, looked at me with is glazed eyes, and passed out, hit his head on the concrete slab that the AC sat on. He came up with blood coming down his face and mud all over his shirt, he grabbed me and mumbled that he "never felt better". That was it, I committed to never doing that shit again. I just rode my skateboard. went to shows and listened to punk rock. The more I didn't go get fucked up, the kids that I hung with got more and more involved in getting fucked up and not going to shows or skating they called me boring. If i hung out with them sober, all they would do would be just get stoned and sit on the couch or get drunk at skate spots and smash bottles. I saw how lame their lives were going and found a new set of friend who were more progressive. I always saw the sxe kids at show but I always thought of them as an exclusive group that you had to be invited to join. I called my self drug free for a while because the sxe label kind of turned me off and I didn't want to be an elitist. I really got to know those kids and they were really open and cool to hang out with. I got more into the touring bands and by the time i first saw Chokehold play I kind of felt it inside and that night I declared my self straight edge. How long now have you been straight edge?
I've been straight edge since my 2nd freshman year in high school. I'm 31 now...so that's...16 years. Holy shit!

Do you feel like this is a personal choice that is simply for yourself or do you feel it makes you a part of a movement?


It's kind of both for me. It's a very personal choice. I have tons of friends who drink, even my fiance drinks, but I really do feel like some people can handle it and others cant. As far as being part of a movement. yes I do feel a connection. I still get amped listening to Earth Crisis, I still get goosebumps when I go to a show and there are kids with X's going nuts.
What is your feelings about hats people "selling out"? I'd be a liar if i said it didn't bother me. I don't hate people who stop being straight edge, it's just a bit of a bummer, especially when its someone who is close to me. It makes me feel like I was'nt a good enough friend, like I was too boring so they had to spice life up by drinking or whatever.

Every generation involved in anything feels like the new generation is missing out on something, is there something you feel like the young, new generation of straightedge and hardcore kids are missing out on?

To me being vegan is super important and I feel like younger kids don't give a shit. I feel like the sxe movement has gotten really macho and that bit kind of weirds me out. I was never into brutal moshing or hard crews, I went to shows to have fun, not punch someone in the face. Atlanta had that kind of scene for a while where we were into dancing and stage diving but when dudes would get too tough, we would ask them to leave. I always hated when a band would play but everyone would be turned around to make sure some goof ball wasn't going to smash them in the back of the head. The politics have taken a back seat now. I'd like to see a mutual respect from bands and kids as well. More talk on how people feel instead of hard mosh, calling everyone faggots for not being into what you are into, and a bit more compassion overall.

So we all know your a member of Most Precious Blood and a musician but what I never knew until a few years ago was that you were a photographer as well. How did you get involved in photography?

Well I got into it from always loving looking at old zines and seeing rad band photos. I got my first digital camera when MPB took our first tour to Europe. I wanted to document the trip (I have a terrible memory!) so I didn't forget where I went and what everything looked like. Having the digital format I could mess around with all the settings and see what they did in real time. So the more we toured, the more photos I would shoot and I would try and progress with every shot. I became a "professional photographer" within the past couple of years. What happened was that once MPB decided to not tour full time anymore, I moved from Brooklyn back to Atlanta. It was super hard to land a job because I spent the last 7 years of my life on tour and didn't really have any job skills. I worked as a counter guy at a tattoo shop, and I worked at a bong shop/skate shop for a bit, I worked that job from midnight till 7 am. it was the worst. I got super depressed and was about to turn 30. The bong shop got evicted because the owner was a meth head a never paid the bills so I was jobless. A lot of friends always told me they liked my photos but I never knew how to make a living off it. My lady stood behind me and wanted me to go for it. A good friend Ray Jones moved to Atlanta and worked as an assistant to a wedding photo team in Atlanta called Our Labor of Love. Ray got picked up by NY Times and moved to Manhattan and he hooked me up with the assisting job with the wedding couple. I've worked for them for 2 years and just now I'm shooting a lot more on my own and I am successfully making a living off them. So rad!

What are your favorite subjects to shoot?

I love shooting live hardcore shows, band promos are fun as well but weddings are my bread and butter. I kind of lucked out being so heavily tattooed, people that look at my work would see a picture of me and decide if that's who they want to shoot their wedding. So I never have to worry about super conservative or boring couples. I like the rushed atmosphere of a wedding and the energy of a couple who just said "I do". I love that most of my clients are hardcore kids and want really unique portraits taken.
Your live shots of bands performing really translates the energy of the show into a photo. How do you accomplish that?

Well...sadly many people have now seen how I light a show. I don't know of anyone who would set up lights at a show but since my stuff has been seen a lot more and I've shot bigger shows, I feel like my style has gotten ripped off a bit. It's kind of a bummer and I don't want to sound pompous or anything, but why would you want to take the same photo as someone else? Even though I am to blame of that as well...I used to bite Danielle Dombrowski's style hard as fuck a while back, but the fact that EVERYONE was shooting like that, I wanted to develop my own style. Sadly I see that it will soon be played out with too many people doing the same thing. As far as capturing the energy, that's what made me fall in love with hardcore, the intense energy between the band and crowd. I think it helps that I played in a band for so long that I kind of can tell when someone is going to jump or dive or whatever.

What was the first thing that went through your head when you saw that photo you took of Trial at Burning Fight?

Man that photo is a total benchmark for me! I knew right when I took it that it would be amazing. I've always been a fan of Trial and that part of the song just gets me every time. That show was hard to shoot as it was so many of my favorite bands playing, I kind of wanted to be on the floor singing along, but I also knew that I wanted to give something back to the bands who got together to play that show. I wanted them to see how beautiful that show really was without blurry light trails and slow shutter speeds. I wanted a clear, clean look at what was happening. I feel that that Trial shot hit the nail on the head, it froze that time perfectly. I could still stare at that photo and get lost in it for hours.

How would someone contact you to see your work and discuss hiring you?
I have a blog here - http://www.thefivemilegrace.com/ or my website here - http://www.matthewmillerphotography.com/ or just by email at mattxmiller@gmail.com
What projects do you have coming up both musically and photography work? Well MPB recorded a new record and hopefully it will come out sometime soon, I'd love to tour again but since the band decided to not be full time, we all had to get jobs so its a bit harder for everyone to put their lives on hold to play some shows, but it will happen! As far as photos stuff goes, I've been toying with the idea of making a book of the Burning Fight photos but I don't know how well those go over. In the meantime I'll be shooting weddings and shows and whatever else comes my way!