The documentary filmmaker Danny Garcia has just completed his latest film. It took him a lot longer than expected to release it mainly due to the reasons he explained in our interview this didn’t help because when it first was mooted that Danny was shooting a doc about Stiv I along with many others got really excited but had to temper that excitement knowing these things take time.
Well that time is here that time is right now folks ‘Stiv’ his the streets next month and RPM had an exclusive viewing of the film and we’re delighted to say it ticked every box with some amazing footage and clearly what is a labour of love and a lot of heart and a lot of soul has been put into the making of this film. Danny has a rich history in Documentary film making with a few of his previous movies well worth investigating if you don’t already own them. ‘The Rise and Fall of The Clash’, ‘Looking for Johnny’ and Sad Vacation’ all previously released by Chip Baker films and all wonderfully detailed docs about punk rock icons to which you can now add ‘Stiv’. Sit back turn off your phone (unless your reading this on it) and get the popcorn Ladies and Gentlemen with such discernable taste (well you must have if you’re reading our interview about Stiv) let me introduce Danny Garcia a very talented Filmmaker and also a man of exquisite taste in music subject matter…
Firstly what made you decide to tell Stiv’s story?
I always liked Stiv and I actually met him briefly in 88 and I felt he was the nicest and most humble music-related person I have ever met until then. I loved his solo album and the first Dead Boys album and I was into the Lords as well. So I knew his career pretty well.
How long was it in planning? How do you approach making a documentary?
I just go for it. Sometimes I have no idea how I am going to be able to make it and pay for all the stuff I need so, for instance, this time we ended up raffling a Dead Boys tee shirt that used to belong to Stiv just so we could pay some bills.
Is it an enjoyable process doing all the research and digging into the detail of a subject like Stiv?
The research part has always interested me, ever since I started listening to records, reading the credits and the liner notes and so on. That’s what we many of us used to do. I know people who can tell you who the engineer was on some record. I’m not that mad I guess.
How helpful were the people who knew Stiv best?
The ones who ended up contributing to the film were really helpful. Especially Frank Secich, Jimmy Zero, Eddy Best, Dave Parsons, Theresa Kereakes, Devorah Ostrov, Cynthia Ross, Dave Treat, the Kierer brothers, Kurt Sunderman from Stiv’s first band Mother Goose, David Arnoff, John Lagdon, Vicki Sheppard, Suzy Shaw, etc. It’s impossible to name them all. So many of Stiv’s true friends came out of the woodwork to help us out with the film. Giving us their time and access to their footage, photography and music. Without them this wouldn’t have happened, I can tell you that much.
Did you uncover much you didn’t already know?
Yes! You always do when you talk to the people who were close to the subject. You just need to talk to Jimmy Zero for half an hour and the number of insane stories he’ll tell you about Stiv that you never heard of is just pure gold.
Is it a real time-consuming process flying all over to speak to the people you interviewed? Is it a question of patience?
That’s the best part of it for me. Travelling, meeting interesting people. I could do that every day. And yes, patience is the name of the game.
I guess I have to ask – a few key characters in Stiv’s life aren’t interviewed like Cheetah, Brian, Michael Monroe did you approach them or didn’t have the time or had the stories from people like Dave Tregunna?
Yes! They decided not to be in the film. I called that the natural selection. It always happens. You contact 50 people and only 30 ends up in the film. They’ll find a reason or other to write themselves out. And I’m fine with that because the story will always be told regardless. There are always other people who were there and witnessed what went down and will be willing to spill the beans.
I guess the dead boys have had their story told when cheetah wrote his book but it was great to see and hear from people like Dave Parsons and Tregunna about the wanderers period of his career as well as his solo stuff. Those guys really light up the movie.
Glad to hear that. The Daves were great and yes the Wanderers part is a very obscure episode of Stiv’s life so it was great to shed some light on that year.
I always felt the lords were an amazing story that needed to be told and I think the film covered this period really well saying what needed to be said without labouring in detail. Is time a big factor when telling a story like Stiv’s? He was a busy boy that’s for sure.
The original cut had way more info on the Lords but since Brian James didn’t cooperate and I didn’t have access to everything I wanted, I had to concentrate just on Stiv and what was going in his life rather than the band and the making of their albums and so on. I also wanted the film to be shorter than 90 minutes so I guess it was a blessing in disguise cause it made the film more dynamic with less gloom and doom.
Do you have a favourite period of his career? Dead boys? Lords? Wanderers? Solo?
To me, both his solo albums are superior to the rest of his work.
It was great to see people like Grant, Neil x and Nick Turner speak is there much on the cutting room floor? I’m sure a film like this could be twice as long.
Yes, I could do two more docs on Stiv with what I have.
Was there footage you couldn’t use?
Yes. We did an interview with Cheetah and he didn’t want to send us the release form. Basically, he stopped responding at some point. Also stuff we couldn’t afford. Archive footage, stuff like that.
It’s great to see all the early footage pre dead boys that’s real gold dust?
That stuff is unreal. Bob and Kevin Kierer who were friends of the Dead Boys filmed all of that Super 8 stuff and they’ve been sitting on it for 40 years plus. That’s just unbeievable stuff. Also, the Mother Goose footage provided by Kurt Sunderman is equally amazing.
When will fans be able to buy the DVD?
Will there be any bonus footage?
Yes. There’s some great deleted scenes with more insane anecdotes and a Behind the scenes featurette with Jimmy Zero with is pretty hilarious actually.
What about a soundtrack cd and vinyl?
That’s coming out too on Record Store Day. And its got a great selection of material by the way.
Where does this movie rank along side your other work?
It’s the best film I’ve done to date. Period.
Was it easier to complete than the Sid film or looking for johnny?
No. Some of the soundtrack took us over 9 months to get the rights for. The film’s been sitting for a year waiting for all this legal stuff to get done. Really frustrating.
What next? How about a film on the cramps? Or Hanoi rocks?
Next one’s Brian Jones, I’ve been working at it for this last year while I waited for Stiv to be released. I love The Cramps but Ivy is not into it and I already spoke to Nasty and Sami before I did Looking for Johnny about doing a docu on them and once the idea reached Andy and Michael… it died off. I’ve known Nasty and Sami since the 90’s. I interviewed Nasty a couple of times back then when he was doing Cheap & Nasty. Great guy.
I’m sure I speak for lots of fans when I say thanks for doing such a great job on some iconic legends that deserve the screen time and i/we’re so grateful for the love and passion put into your work its really appreciated.
Thank you. It is my pleasure to be able to cover the lives of these icons.
Finally, will there be posters of the film advert available to buy because the surf poster is so cool.
Yes! To me, it’s the best poster ever. Photo by the great John Lagdon by the way. Roadie and personal friend of Stiv. Bless him.
buy Danny Garcia DVD’s: Here
buy tickets for the London premiere: Here