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DIY FILMMAKING: "War Stories from the Frontlines of Filmmaking"

Film Threat

INTERVIEW WITH: Bob Ray, writer-director of the punk rock glory story, ROCK OPERA & Jerry Clark, the movieās star.


Bob: I met Jerry at the monster truck rally & Harley biker fest back in '82. His uncle was a biker and mine was a monster truck racer. They got tangled up in a fight at the post race party. My uncle beat the shit outta that biker goon. I noticed that Jerry found it nearly as funny as I did that his uncle was getting the shit kicked out of him and we instantly hit it off.

Jerry: Yeah, but at least my uncle did get laid from a pity fuck. But I guess that's neither here nor there as me and Bob hung out we realized how much we had in common being you uns at the biker fest. Needless to say we reeked havoc amongst the drunken and drugged up rednecks. I guess we seemed destined to have incredibly insane stuff happen to and around us over the years. Which led to a certain time in our lives that we just had to pseudo re-enact and dramatize it for the public to see.

Bob: That about sums it up. Me and Jerry played together in bands, and on the same kick ball team, we had our own pirate radio show and we shot a shit load of films together over the years. Shooting films is where we found our calling. We were like a well lubed tag-team, me behind the camera and Jerry in front. We would occasionally high five over her back and she would say, "Did you just high five?" and I would think "Cameras can't talk."


Jerry: The film perty much revolves around a scraggly starving musician who wants to play music, delve into substances, get his band on the road and somehow wrestle a fire-breathing goddess into a chicken wing half-nelson. To do this he will pretty much fuck over half a dozen of the meanest sons o' bitches in Texas.

Bob: And who wouldn't? I mean, chicken wing? I think that it's due to these little details of life that the film has a universal appeal. ROCK OPERA is a story that just about any one can relate to.


Bob: Well, the good news is that there ain't a lick of opera in the entire picture show. Despite that fact, the best title choices were ROCK OPERA and ROHYPNOL SUMMER. In the long run, I just figured that since there's about as much date rape in the film as there is opera, it wouldn't be proper to get folks all riled up about something like that and not come through for them. It just seemed wrong, the movie's not about frat boys, after all. And, you know, who really cares about opera anyway?

Jerry: I dunno I wouldn't mind slippinā the old singinā fat lady a ruffie or two, ahem..heh...aaaaaww I'm just jokin' sheesh.Yeah, there were some other titles we had in mind as well, but screw it. Who wants to freak out over a title when what we really need to do is stab this ridiculous rock and roll story into the fragile eyes of the public?

Bob: TEXAS CRUDE was another option, but again, misleading. What we have here is a goof ball action-comedy-thriller about a band struggling in the Austin underground music scene. ROCK OPERA seemed to be the least misleading. And opera's are a big production sort of like the main character, Toe seems to make of his life; non-stop trouble.


Bob: The production budget was around thirty big ones (thirty dollareenies ) that's thirty donuts. About half of that was raised through investors. The rest of the loot came from a combination of places, some was money I had saved while working as an iron worker-welder and the chronic abuse of my wife's credit card covered the difference.

Jerry: Budget? Whatās a budget? Hey did I mention I did this for the love and only the love of my director? Oh and maybe for the possibility that I might get laid since it will be premiering at the Dobie Theater in Austin, Texas for South by South West Film Fest. And maybe I might even be able to swing more acting jobs in the future.


Bob: Only the drug induced WWII re-enactment hallucination scene and the Sasquatch love sequence.

Jerry: Not to mention I did all my own stunts which was worse than being Someone help me!

Bob: We couldnāt afford the marmosets either. But, we made the best of it and came out with a damn fine movie, I must say.


Jerry: I did it because acting and playing music are the two most important things in my life and I think it would be great if I could actually do this and get paid lots of money for it. Yep, I guess that's a dream I share with thousands of others but dammit I don't wanna dig freakin' ditches for the rest of my damn life there's no women throwing themselves at guys who do that ..and I don't wanna end up in some tower shooting at the public with a high-powered rifle.

Bob: I did it on a dare. A triple dog dare. That and Lone Star beer gave us some free beer to use as props and we wouldn't want to let them down (I hear they have hit men on the payroll). Needless to say, we had to make the movie. For the beer's sake.


Jerry: Was it worth it? I could answer that question on so many levels but, I'll be honest, if I get laid by a nice hot li'l mama because of it, then yes, it all will have been worth it entirely . So I guess Iāll have to wait and see.

Bob: Damn straight it was worth it. Now we get to write a Filmmaker's War Story. And get to work on the next one. I wanna explode more stuff on the next one.


Bob: Same old shit. Be really prepared. You are never really prepared. If you think you are prepared, you are wrong, prepare more. A lack of good organization will bite you in the ass. Youāve heard it a million times and here it is again, be prepared. Note: If your script sucks then all that preparation crap will just be a waste of time, so forget about that part and just get it over with. And finally, that's why they call it dope.

Jerry: I know this may sound cheesy and gay but if you are following your heart and know you're being true to what you wanna do I don't think you could ever go wrong..Jeez, does that sound silly?


Bob: We are having our world premiere at the South by South West Film Festival on March 13th of 1999 at the fabulous Dobie Theater. SXSW put ROCK OPERA in the midnight slot, a time reserved for especially subversive type films like ROCK OPERA and CANNIBAL! THE MUSICAL (the Trey Parker and Matt Stone film that occupied the slot last year). I figure that I'd sell the film at the fest and collect a hundred million thousand dollars and then I'll make a good old fashion trucker movie, or a zombie flick, or something about arson and justice or staple guns. Whatever it is I think it should involve exploding trailer parks and eighteen-wheelers. In the mean time, Iāll ride the festival roller coaster with ROCK OPERA, and squeeze in short films whenever possible.

Jerry: Well I'm gunna actually direct my own li'l short movie on super 8 and ride Bob's coattails into glory being the next ridiculous character he needs for his next movie or he might just find himself held at gunpoint.

Keep up with the low down on ROCK OPERA and all the other antics of Bob and Jerry at the CrashCam home page:

See the film at SXSW (March 13th, 15th & 16th at the Dobie):

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