If you have ever fantasized about being a mega-rock star, this is the interview for you. 🙂 Doug Blush has been a director, producer, and documentary filmmaker for over 16 years, and the release of his latest project, Rock Camp, the Movie, is being sponsored in part by Other World Computing. In this interview, our host, Cirina Catania, talks with Doug about his journey with “Rock Camp the Movie” and what it took to tell a great story with years of footage taken at 69 Rock ‘n Roll Fantasy Camps. The movie features numerous world-famous musicians who gave their time to campers including Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley(KISS), Tony Franklin, Brian Wilson (The Beach Boys), Jeff Beck (Yardbirds), Joe Perry (Aerosmith), Roger Daltrey (The Who), Alice Cooper, Slash, and Nancy Wilson (Heart). A few particularly amusing scenes involve the colorful Fantasy Camp founder, David Fishof. But it is the campers who grab our attention as we see them transformed by a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to be a rock star!
For more information about our amazing sponsor, Other World Computing, go to MacSales.com or OWCDigital.com, where you’ll find hardware and software solutions and tutorial videos that will get you up and running in no time.
For more about our host, filmmaker, tech maven and co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival, Cirina Catania, visit cirinacatania.com.
If you enjoy our podcast, please subscribe and tell all your friends about us! We love our listeners. And, if you have ideas for segments, write to OWCRadio@catania.us. Cirina is always up for new ideas!
In This Episode
- 00:00 – Cirina introduces Doug Blush, a director, producer, and documentary filmmaker for over 16 years. His latest project is the documentary film, Rock Camp: The Movie.
- 02:22 – Doug tells the story of his company, MadPix Films, and the kind of films he’s been involved with.
- 11:01 – Doug shares how he got started in the film industry, especially in documentaries.
- 15:29 – Doug shares the premise of the documentary film, Rock Camp: The Movie, and how it got started.
- 20:31 – Doug talks about how and why he got involved with the film, Rock Camp: The Movie.
- 24:03 – Cirina asks Doug about his roles and credits in film, and how he shares responsibilities with his co-editors.
- 26:35 – Doug talks about the different cameras that were used for the film and how they used all the footage into one movie.
- 33:00 – Doug shares his journey about getting the film to the people, especially given the COVID pandemic. Cirina and Doug also encourage listeners to watch Rock Camp: The Movie in local theaters by buying tickets at RockCamptheMovie.com.
- 38:44 – Doug proudly divulges that he is an OWC fanboy. He talks about the types of equipment he’s purchased from OWC.
44:38 – Cirina and Doug encourage listeners to check out Doug’s company website, MadPixFilms.com, to know more about his films and services.
You may have been to summer camp, but I’ll bet you’ve never been to rock and roll fantasy camp. Music producer David Fishof has been bringing rock star hopefuls to his fantasy camps to be tutored by some of the world’s most famous musicians for over 20 years. And now, there’s a movie about it. I spoke with Director Producer Doug Blush about this very cool documentary that features superstars like Roger Daltrey, Alice Cooper, Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Nancy Wilson, Joe Perry, Jeff Beck, Slash, and well, you get the drift. It has changed many lives, and we think you will have a great time listening to how it got made and how you can watch it all while supporting a theater near you.
Welcome to OWC Radio.
Thank you so much. It’s great to talk to you.
You’re not gonna say anything different, right? I would smack you. Has anybody ever said, “God, I really don’t want to be here”?
We’re very lucky that we enjoy what we do. It’s not every morning that I wake up feeling this way. But many mornings, it’s like, I can’t believe we get to do what we do. Particularly working in documentary, I always feel like this is a golden time. A lot of people have called it the “Golden Age,” several golden ages of documentary. But just that convergence of all the good things that are happening with cameras and editing and the ability to travel easily, not during COVID, obviously. But there are so many opportunities for people to get documentaries made now. So it’s been an amazing 20 years of this rising tide of docs and just lucky timing that that’s my chosen field.
Tell us a little bit before we get on to the movie about your company and the kind of films you’ve been involved with. You’ve won some pretty prestigious awards.
We’ve had some good times. Fortunately, and part of the thing about documentaries that’s so great is the people who work in doc are really a giant family. A lot of people know each other. Fortunately, I got to know some great directors, some great teams over the years in my different kinds of work—everything from camera and editing to producing and even directing. And along the way, we formed a company, my wife and I, to do media and to do documentaries particularly, we always really wanted to do documentaries. And that company was founded in 2002, it’s called Madpix Films, and it’s named after my daughter, Madeline. I think she’s unofficially the CFO or something of our little company. We’re coming up on 20 years, and we can’t believe that we’ve been around a long time, worked on a lot of different things. On my side, I think I’ve done I’d have to check IMDb, but I think I’m over 160 feature films that I’ve worked on and some credited capacity. Again, literally, almost any credit you can imagine. Sometimes it was a day of work, or sometimes it was a week. But other times I’ve been on films for years and years. On and off to get a documentary done, Rock Camp is one of those that took a long time. And it’s just been a really amazing adventure because we’re a small company that does big things. We work on a lot of films all over the world. We’ve had films that I’ve participated in, under other company flags, like Morgan Neville’s 20 Feet From Stardom, which came from Tremolo Productions, and that one went to the Oscars. We won for Best Documentary back in 2014. And worked a lot with Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering, who has a company at that time, was known as Chain Camera Pictures, and now is also known as Jane Doe Films. And they produce some of the most hard-hitting documentaries in the world. I mean, nobody makes them better than Amy and Kirby do. And I worked on The Invisible War in The Hunting Ground, which is a really kind of seminal film in investigative journalism and actually changing the world. We honestly believe those films have made a major difference in how people deal with each other and how rules are made specifically around different issues of sexual assault. So we’re really happy that we can have that impact. And then a real pride and joy were winning for a short film, and we just won a couple of years ago for something called Period. End of Sentence. about girls in India, who are finding their voice and their freedom, as they take over the means of production for sanitary products. Because they’re denied those things, and now they have access to them because they make them themselves in a factory where they’re making money for themselves in their own little micro-factory. And in fact, one of the great things about the film is at the end, they employ the men, and they count the money, which is great. So that won the Oscar a couple of years ago for that Best Short Doc. So yeah, we’ve had some great times with different awarded films and a lot of just beautiful films that have been out there and have affected people. And it’s just a joy to do this kind of work. So I’m kind of thrilled that it’s all worked out the way it has. I wouldn’t have predicted this 20 years ago when we were just starting the sort of tech revolution that made it all possible.
There was a time early on when documentary was considered sort of a secondary genre. And now, I know so many people who that’s all they watch, just documentaries. They’re tired of the other genres, and they pretty much stick to docs.
Thankfully. I’m always grateful when I hear people say, “Yeah, I basically have a giant next Netflix queue of 50 docs, and maybe I’ll watch one fiction thing once in a while.” And that’s music to my ears. And it’s true. I remember in the 90s, and there was a time when if you said, “Oh, I’m working on a documentary,” and people would say, “Oh, what are you working on for money?” “What’s your real job” And that was not that far from the truth. There weren’t that many people doing doc full time. There were some amazing artists, and there still are. I’m friends with some of the wonderful people who are working all the way back from the 70s, 80s, 90s. But it’s different now. There’s a market for these things, and people have realized the work, so many great stories are getting made, there’s access to places and subjects that we couldn’t make before that we can make now with the new tools that are out there. And I always say that the thing that made it possible was the democratization of editing. Because you can remember going to a big glass building in the 90s when you had to rent Avid from a big shop, or you had to go into a bay. And you couldn’t do this stuff at home with a simple system. It was major, major investments, hundreds of 1000s of dollars to own an Avid. And there wasn’t much of an alternative. Premiere was just starting, and Final Cut didn’t exist yet. So those were early days, and things just changed really quickly. I was part of that wave. And you were too, I know, where suddenly we had access. And it’s all about access, right? And so somebody in the middle of the country, somewhere who never had access to big Hollywood studios, could make a movie if they felt like it. And that was really special. It was a really revolutionary time.Many great stories are getting made. There's access to places and subjects that we couldn't make before. Now we can make them with the new tools that are out there. Click To Tweet
And it’s exciting. Every time somebody says that phrase “democratization,” I think about working on a film from my apartment in West Hollywood and renting an Avid system for $5,000 a week. And it took three guys to carry it in because you had to have special furniture to put it on, and then you had all these components, and it was really heavy. So they would drive up in a little truck, and then they would haul that thing up. And yeah, it was expensive and heavy and cumbersome. I mean, we did great work on them. But what’s your primary NLE now? Are you pretty much multilingual, so to speak, or?
Yeah, I’m very agnostic about that because they all offer something that’s great on their own terms. I mean, I’ve used them all. And I keep my eye on the new ones that are coming out or the new modifications and features that come out. But I love them all. Rock Camp was cut on Adobe Premiere, but I’ve cut some amazing films and some big award winners on Avid. And Final Cut both the old days, the OG version and the new version. We’ve had both of those. At least one or two projects came through Da Vinci already, which is coming up. So there’s a lot of change going on. I always tell my students, because I do teach this stuff too, that you don’t want to be just sort of chained to one platform because you’re going to see them all in a typical film career. Now, unless you work 100% forever in the same studio and they are all 100% one platform forever, which is not entirely likely. You will need to know it all. So there’s no bad knowledge out there. Know the tools because it’s your paint brushes, right? But I don’t really favor one over the other. I think Adobe has been doing great things. Avid’s new update, the 2020, is fabulous. There are lots of great features in it. Final Cut X, I don’t use it as much, but people who love it really love it. They love the way it lays things out and works. And Da Vinci is coming on strong. Plus, it has the bulletproof amazing color power of Da Vinci. So I don’t really favor one over the other. I always think that that’s a waste of time to do platform wars. Just cut a good movie.
Tell a good story. When did you realize that you wanted to edit?
That’s a great question because I’m not even sure.
I guess the better question is, how did you get started in telling stories? Because you actually are doing much more than editing now too. So how did you get started in telling stories?
I went to USC Film School after growing up making films in my backyard with my dad’s Super 8 camera. It was one of those things where it really was homegrown. And I got into USC Film School, coming out from Michigan and not knowing anybody, but I got into that prestigious university. And that program, of course, is like a mega boot camp for how to be a filmmaker. And that’s partially where I learned that I love documentary. It was in that program. And I started out like everybody wanting to be the latest, and you name it, the Sydney Pollack or Spielberg or whoever. And by the time I got to the end of the program, I really had fallen in love with docs. And I had worked on a few. In fact, I dated a wonderful woman who was a documentary filmmaker at that program. And I think she was kind of the person who really got me permanently locked into the idea of making documentaries. And we’re still friends. She lives up in Alaska, and she’s amazing. And from there, it became kind of clear that if you wanted real power in making your films, you had to have post-production. The cameras, you could beg, borrow and steal a camera for a weekend. But the time it takes to edit a movie, especially a documentary, you need access to post you need access to editing. And it just happened to time out that home editing or reasonably good home editing started to be real about the time that I realized this. So I went down to the bank and took a loan out, and got myself immediate 100 back in the day. And that was broadcast quality, and you could deliver real broadcast out of that thing. And I always say that that was the ATM machine that bought my first house.
Do you remember the manual that used to sit on your desk that Philip and Greg wrote? Did you ever get that?
I still have the original edition.
You’re kidding. I love it. Oh my god, I want you to send me a picture of it. I want to show that to them.
The big eyeball with the feet. Yup, somewhere in this lab. I have that original thing, and I actually tease Philip and Greg about that. Because I have the original, I have the binder. I have the original Media 100 hats somewhere. I was all in. It was so cool because maybe 100 was a great company back in the 90s. It broke that boundary. Avid was still really expensive and great but affording time on an Avid was, like you say, a giant machine coming through your door, furniture and giant mags and everything. And Media 100 was kind of DIY, and it was a little punk. And when I set it up and got good at it, suddenly everybody’s coming to me saying, “Oh my gosh, I need this little thing cut. Can you cut this behind the scenes?” “Can you do my actors real?” “Oh, I’ve got a music video I want to do.” And I swear it was almost like dealing drugs. People would come with bales of money saying, “Can you get this done by Monday?” And it was just fabulous in those days because there were not that many of us doing that. And there was this wacky community of people who kind of stayed in touch on the message boards in those days. And we would all figure out the bugs and report directly to Marianna when she was working at Media 100 those days. And it was really giddy time, and it was sort of like the tech boom of the late 90s–but for us. And I’ll always treasure those times. It’s really great.
Maybe we’re all feeling a little nostalgic because of being quarantined, so to speak. I’ve been thinking a lot about my friends from those days, and it’s awesome to talk to you because we’ve been kicking around each other for many years, and I don’t think we’ve ever really had a beer together.
That is overdue. I’m declaring that right now. Cirina, we’re gonna make up for the lost time.
Yeah, I’m half Belgian, we have to get together with all our friends. And at some point, when this is all over, we are having a party.
So let’s go back. And let’s talk about what is the movie Rock Camp.
Well, it’s one of those things where you find out something that you hoped existed, and then when you find out it’s really there, you can’t believe it. So the premise is basically, what if you could fulfill your wish that goes back to being a teenager in your bedroom, listening to the radio? What if you could hang out and jam with your heroes from those days growing up with a song that lives forever in your head? And a wonderful, wacky, and a very connected guy named David Fishof, who had come up through promotions in both sports and music, had the same dream. He said, “What if I could make this into an experience? People could really do this. And real musicians, real rock stars would come and hang out and sort of garage band with their fans and actually form a band. Not just stand there and sign autographs, but let’s jam together.” And what a cool concept, right? It exists, and it has existed for over 20 years. The first one is 1997 in Miami, and after that, it just grew and grew. And David, he’s the ultimate kind of P.T. Barnum ringmaster of this thing. He’s just the wildest and innovative guy, sort of figures out how to make it work time after time. And he’s gotten his legion of fans together who attend rock camps, and new people are coming in all the time, or younger people, teenagers who discovered this music from all the way back to the 60s up to now. The camp counselors are all ace musicians, like everybody from great session players to people who have toured with the biggest acts. And they work with the bands up until the weekend, where major rock stars come and hang out and actually jam with these bands. They rehearse, and they prepare, and they rehearse songs, they get ready for the big stage show. And out will come to Paul Stanley to jam with the band, or you get Gene Simmons, or you get the guys from Iron Maiden or whatever, or Judas Priest. You get these rock stars who are actually ready to get up there and have fun with these camp participants. And people love it. The musicians love it. Roger Daltrey can’t say enough about it. In the movie, he gushes about how much fun it is to do this camp. And they really do. They show up, and it sort of restores that, “Remember, when I was 16, and I had a bunch of guys in the garage?” it’s just like that. And sometimes it sounds like that, that’s the best part, not everybody has to be good. But they do kind of gel, and they come together. And sometimes they really rock. There are some prodigies who come to this rock camp. We portray a couple of them in the film. And they’re good enough to be touring or recording the studio. And yet they’ve got other lives, right? And they come to Rock Camp to live the life.
How long does rock camp last every year? Do you know?
There are all kinds of camps, and they’re all over the place. I mean, David has taken it on the road, he has done shows in Vegas, LA, New York, Chicago, and Miami, he did a couple in London, Detroit, he travels around with it, and he does stuff that’s appropriate to the place he’s going. If he’s doing London, it’s going to be British rock, British pop, whatever. And if he’s coming to LA and he does North Hollywood, it’s going to be kind of heavy metal shred heroes. And if it’s Las Vegas, it could be more glitzy and might be singer-songwriter ones that are in Denver or something like that. Chicago, they did the blues, Buddy Guy. I mean, how cool is that? It’s adjusted for where it is, you know?
So these are very famous, well-established rockstars, I mean, literal stars that come. They have masterclasses, and they mentor people who just want to learn more about how to be a rockstar. I mean, you’ve got doctors and insurance reps. There’s one scene in there with David. I’m laughing. He’s on the treadmill, and he’s calling Steven Tyler or whoever, he’s calling this whole list of famous rock people and saying, “Hey, you up for the camp?” And it’s hilarious. It’s just hilarious. But then there are other times when I was watching it, and it really got to me. It’s very poignant too because there’s one family, there are the father and two sons, who have gone through the camp. And one of the sons, I don’t know, was born brain-damaged, and there he is playing guitar on stage. And it’s just beautiful to watch. So when did you become involved in the film?
Yeah, it’s interesting because this happens with a lot of docs. Docs take forever to make, and they can sometimes take as long as 10 to 15 years, depending on the subject.Documentaries take forever to make. They can sometimes take as long as 10-15 years depending on the subject. Click To Tweet
Thank you for saying that, Doug. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you for saying that, because I have one that I’ve been working on for over ten years. And I have another one I’ve been working on for about five years. And people keep going when you get a finish that? Well, you’re dealing with live people, with people who have stories, right? So sometimes it takes a while. I’m very grateful to you for saying that.
The truth is, the story will tell you when it’s done. And sometimes that story takes a long time to tell you that. In fact, a dear friend of mine, who I got to know when I got to work with him, at first, I was just starstruck that I got a chance to work with him. But Michael Apted, who did one of the most amazing doc series in history called the Up series. The versions of that film have been coming out every seven years since the subjects were seven years old. It started in England in the 60s. And he was just, I think, a PA or an intern at the time at the BBC. And then they took it forward from there. And every seven years, he would go back and revisit these people. And I wanted to mention that because he just passed last week. And there were a lot of tributes out there for him. He really revolutionized documentary with that. And also the ultimate testament to how long these things can really take to make. That’s a special case. But I’ve been on doc that took ten years for sure. And Rock Camp is one of those where when I came in, they’d been filming for years, and they had film footage going back to the 90s. And with that kind of archive, it’s like oh, my god, we had the whole history of this amazing camp with all the artists who came and visited. But they had been making the film for a little while, and they’ve been sort of playing with ideas. And I came in, and we were actually connected by, I think, the legal team that’s helping the film. And they said, “Hey, can you come in and work with these guys?” And I saw what they had. And I said, “All the specialness of the camp is in there, but we really need the characters to pop out.” So we double down on picking some people who want to follow and just see what their lives are like. And that worked out really well with it. We had some wonderful people, like the characters like Tammy and Pistol and Scott, who have the son you just talked about, and they open their homes and lives to us. So we would fly around the country and go visit them at their homes and see how their sort of rock and roll lifestyle is contrasted against like, “Oh, I’m a broker” and “I work for this kind of firm,” and “I’m a public servant.” And all of these people kind of converge together and kind of let their hair loose at the rock camp. So it’s really fun to watch that process of what the campers go through. I’ve been working on it now for years. So I’ve probably been involved for at least. I think I’ve been on for three years at least working with this. We have a great team, Renee Barron, my co-director, who did a lot of work out in the field and shot a lot of material as well. And then there have been people who have shot things over time that interviews with some of the rock stars. But when I got in, the real trick was to structure it and make it this story of these characters and these lives that go through this rock camp and how they’re changed by it as well as the rock stars and what they get out of it.The story will tell you when it's done. Sometimes the story takes a long time to tell you that. Click To Tweet
Tell me what your roles were in the film? What are your credits?
I certainly had a lot to do initially with just shaping the film and the story. And that goes under a lot of categories. But I ended up co-producing the film, co-writing the film, and co-directing the film, along with an amazing team, including Renee Barron, who co-directed and traveled with the crew and me a lot. And she shot a lot of the material in some of the camps. Also, there are some other editors who worked on it. Josh Bayer, Miles Wilkerson, Carey, who’s amazing send, and she did amazing work on this. Marisa Hasper did great work. So there’s a big team of people who are the assistant editors and editors who put it together. But Renee and I really put a lot of the film together. And I ended up finishing this.
How did you share responsibilities as editors?
She got a lot of the primary story figured out and sections and pods for different characters. And then the real trick was how are we going to shake all these together and lace them into one final film. And that’s something I do in a lot of films. I come in and try to figure out what the structure is of a documentary, even one that’s already way down the road. And I’m famous for sometimes coming in and saying, “You’re great, just tweak these things,” or I blow it all up and say, “Let’s completely rethink the order and see where it all goes.” So, in this film, we kept trying different orders in different layers, and who do we keep in, and who do we have to do less of, and we finally got it down to a nice running time. So everybody contributed, Renee’s stuff is all over this, and my dear friend, Josh Bayer, who’s been editing with us for years, did some fantastic editing late, and I did a bunch of editing as well. So it takes a village, a lot of docs have multiple editors. There’s usually kind of one primary, but in this case, we had the long process, and we had tons of archival, so many great AEs who came in and really made it palatable to dive into all these years of footage.
I was looking at all the sources going; okay, this is not easy because you have material from, as you said, way back from 20 some years ago—those shots on totally different formats. I guess one of the questions is when you shot the new stuff, what were you shooting on? What cameras were you shooting on? And what format were you using?
Yeah, I’ll preface that by saying I’m proud that this film officially used every camera ever made by man. From about 1995 till now. I’m almost not kidding. I think we used pretty much, you name a camera, and there’s some footage of that camera in this movie. And that includes things like iPhones and high eight cameras and stuff like that. That’s gonna rock and roll. I always thought, if you’re going to make a rock and roll film, it should be rock and roll, and everybody’s got a different camera. But yeah, our primary camera, the package that I own, I’m a big Canon guy. So I had a Canon C300 on this. And we shot a little towards the end on the Canon C300 Mark II 4K. There were a lot of Fs7 in there. We had some Panasonic in there. We even had, I think, one day we had an Alexa, we had an Alexa for a long weekend here. But we have a lot of cameras and a lot of different looks, and that’s a tribute too to our finishing house, Different by Design, which did a great job bringing it all together, making it look like one movie. It’s not easy when you have this many sources.
In terms of the color, that had to be difficult.
Yeah, that was a process, and we had an amazing colorist who really, really figured it out. This was Brian Hutchings, who does amazing stuff with Different by Design. My friends over there who do amazing work on every dock. If I have anything to say about it, we tend to go there because they’re just so terrific. And they solve problems. We have a lot of footage that didn’t want to hang out with other footage, and they figured all that out and made it look really good. And in the process, we had a lot of fun getting a look, getting what rock and roll looks like, what is the color of that. And we got really creative with some scenes. That’s always fun to play.
You know what I really liked about it? You turned these megastars into people. I’m looking at this list here; Alice Cooper, Roger Daltrey, Sammy Hagar, Judas Priest, Joe Perry, Gene Simmons, and it goes on and on. Nancy Wilson was in there, and Tony Franklin was hilarious. So you took each of these people, and you showed them mentoring “the campers,” calling them campers. I can’t say they’re amateurs because some of them like, what’s the name of a drummer? The drummer that was so good?
Yeah. Pistol is probably ready to go on tour anytime. And in fact, he talks about that. He was really close to joining Lenny Kravitz and touring with Lenny. And it was only because he was working on another gig that he didn’t take that direction. That could have changed his direction. He talks about that. There’s a big crossroads for every musician that if you do this or if you do that. But Pistol is just a stunningly good drummer, and he’s still drumming professionally. He does do gigs and things, which is great to see that he’s getting into that again doing that.
There’s a scene where he’s talking to his family about how important this was to him, and you can just see the family kind of tearing up. It was very sweet.
There were a few tears on the road with this. And I love that when it’s so heartfelt that you can’t help but kind of cry along with somebody who’s really feeling something in the film. So we really went for that. We went for, where’s the emotion of this? Where’s the real love of the music? It’s not just like a woohoo with a party. It’s more like a real emotional experience. And when we just look through all those moments.
I always wonder with things like this that are almost music anthologies, I don’t know. I mean, there are so many different pieces of music in here. Your legal team must have had an incredible journey to try to get permission for all this music.
Oh, yeah. Well, kudos to them. I mean, without our hard-working lawyers, we would never get this movie done. Some very good and very sweet negotiations in terms of getting rights to some songs. The band certainly helped the ones who love Rock Camp, and it doesn’t hurt when the artist is totally on board and really loves the representation of what they look like there and how they give back. So I think there was a lot of goodwill. I think David has brought a lot of goodwill through the rock camp over the years. And so it’s easier than sometimes to get those music rights.
He’s a good guy, and he’s smart. I mean, I don’t know him personally, but from what I’m seeing in the film, he seems like he just loves what he does. And I love the scenes of him on the motorcycle. There are so many fun things here.
We had a lot of fun shooting them, and we call it the Hava Nagila motorcycle rides through Beverly. And what was so great is that David was totally up for it. And we rigged him for cameras. I mean, we had GoPros on his helmet, and we had a GoPro on his bike, and we had the car cam driving along. And it was just tremendously fun because he was always up for everything. He always wanted to try stuff and be a partner in making really fun films. And he knew that he’s the classic showman, and he really knows how to put on a show. At the same time, he has a really sweet story to tell about why music means so much to him with his father and being a cantor, and surviving the Holocaust. His dad came out of that. And the fact that for him, music is sort of that connection to all this stuff that he grew up with. So there are real human emotions here. That’s why we do docs. We really love that part of it.
Music really can change people’s lives, and you’re showing the mentor side of it, you’re showing the mentee side of it, and the strength of the music. It’s really fun. I really do hope that it does very, very well. I can’t see it not doing well. So tell me about the journey. You’re doing virtual screenings; how’s that working now? Because the whole business is changing.
This was already starting to happen a little bit before COVID. But COVID obviously forced our hand, especially in independent cinema, and how do we get our films out to people? So obviously, the big answer is, “Oh, just go on Netflix,” right? First of all, it’s not an instant sell. You don’t automatically go on HBO, or Netflix, or Disney, or whatever; you’d have to make those deals, and you have to be noticed, and it’s very competitive. So what we’re doing, and what I’m really proud we’re doing, is we’re doing the theatrical release through digital cinemas. In other words, your local art theater that maybe has been closed for nine months, they actually are doing screenings. And if you go to their website, they have all these art films or new releases that they’re showing, and you buy a ticket, and you get to watch it at home. But the money is going to your local theater as well as to the film itself. So you’re helping cinema kind of survive this terrible time if you go and buy a ticket and you make a journey to your own theater. It’s not the same, and we know that we wish we could screen in a theater, but we won’t be able to for months. So we’re doing the next best thing. We’re bringing it home to everybody who can attend. I’m really happy about that because I want to see all these great independent theaters survive this. It’s not easy for them. And think how important that is to all the little downtowns of America and those great old theaters. So if people feel like they want to contribute and they want to have a rockin’ good time, buy a ticket, buy a ticket to this. It’s going to be on digital release for about a month, and we’ll play as long as they’ll have us. And you can share it. Obviously, you can have a whole family sit down and watch it together. And it is pretty family-friendly as a film. I think even older young kids can handle it. There’s nothing too scary in it.
I think it’s inspiring to kids. So where do people go to find tickets? For example, is Fandango listing it, or do you go to the Rock Camp…
I think it’s listed on Fandango. What’s interesting is, it’s kind of a big release as far as digital cinemas go. And I know that the main rock camp website, which is called RockCampTheMovie.com, there’s a button right there, you press for Tickets, and I believe it’ll ask you where you are in the country, and it’ll direct you to your local theater, which is really cool.
Oh, there it is. I see it. Rock Camp the movie, and you click on Tickets, and then you can pre-order, you can play the trailer. This is great. I love it.
If you’re interested in the camp, obviously, there’ll be some people who say, “I want to do that, too.” And there are some links there to get to the camp itself and to talk to the people there about attending. What David’s done too, which is parallel with the movie, is that he’s now doing virtual rock camp, which has been really quite successful. So the same rockstars, instead of being in a practice room, where we can’t be because of COVID, they’re actually doing Zooms. You’ll get a guy like, name your favorite, you might get a Lou Gramm, or you might get Paul Stanley or somebody to come in and do a session with you on Zoom, and you have a class. So it’s been really popular. Plus, so many of our counselors, these amazing longtime artists who’ve been playing with so many great acts, like you saw Tony and Teddy and Vinny in the movie, and some of the others who’ve been playing for years on the road. And now they’re doing these sessions, and you can get really, really good instruction from these. So it’s kind of the best way to up your chops in some places if you’re a really serious musician. And if you just want to hang out and see how being a rock star feels, that’s available too—you just kind of get to hear stories and ways you’ll never hear any other way.
What a great idea this is.
We play a big crowd too. What’s amazing is when we did the shows, one was at the Roxy, and another one was at the Hard Rock Cafe in Vegas and these are big stages, these venues they have like major acts come and play in these things. And here you are playing with some mega rockstar, but it’s you and your band playing to a screaming audience. And these places are usually full of not only families and people hanging around but also people who are just coming by and are curious. And it’s quite a real rock kind of thing. It’s pretty cool. You get the real experience.
Unbelievable. This is a great project, Doug.
It has been a wild ride, and I shout out to all our crew. What an amazing job everybody did, and just keep going and getting those stories right. The stories finally told us we were ready. And of course, David and Jeff, who did so much work to get this thing ready, and David for hosting the camps and being who he is. It was quite a fun ride. There’s a lot to share here. And I grew up on this music. This is the stuff that was playing on the radio when I would go to high school and to see this be real and to meet these people and actually trade stories with them. It’s really special. It’s kind of coming home.
So I heard a rumor that you use OWC equipment and this is OWC Radio, so I have to ask you, is it true?
I’m gonna admit right now and I am an OWC fanboy. I pretty much rely on a lot of the fundamental OWC stuff like the ThunderBays and a lot of the hubs and the connectors. I’ve modded my computers with OWC stuff, I’ve installed my own hard drives. What I love about them is that they have that DIY spirit of the early digital revolution we were talking about. You remember how we used to kind of build our own stuff and mod our rigs and add goodies to the thing. And I think OWC still has that DNA, and you can buy really cool kits that you can do it yourself. They tell you how to do it, and they are really on the side of the user. So I’ve always respected OWC a lot, and their stuff is amazing. Literally, I’m sitting about a foot away from two spinning ThunderBays right now. And behind me, I’ve got a big old LumaForge Jellyfish. And Rock Camp was cut on Jellyfish. So now it’s an OWC film through and through. When we were doing our remote shoots at Rock Camp, we had like a war room that was just filled with gear and DIT equipment because we were transferring terabytes of stuff every day. And we had a great crew, just transferring chips nonstop as we were shooting. And to get that done, OWC was very kind to provide some great hard drive support and docks and equipment that we were able to use. So, we were very grateful that they came in and helped us out because it was like a war room. It really was. It was amazing that we got all that done that fast.
OWC does an awful lot to help our community both in film, television, music. They’re not just corporate. They help all of the creatives out there, too. And I know Larry O’Connor really believes in what you’re doing. He’s very excited about this film.
Oh, yeah. And thanks to everybody at OWC for the support. It comes with real love and handcrafted things that I think is a part of the reason OWC is so great. Because they believe in independent artists, and they really help us out. I very much happily recommend them.
And then Randy Fuchs is there quietly in the background, bringing people together. I love that. He’s the one that actually got you and me together, and I’m appreciative of that because we’ve been, like I said, circling around each other for years. So what’s next for you? Do you have something on the horizon? Are you taking a break now?
I wish I could take a break. With finishing up Rock Camp and a few other things, I was going to take a little time off because my daughter went to college, and we’re gonna take a little time off. And then, well, COVID came along. So I’ve actually worked harder this year than I’ve ever worked, I would say. I’ve done more projects and worked on more amazing stuff with crews all over the world. Because I’ve got all this time on my hands, so why not work, right? So we’ve got a whole bunch of great projects coming out. Some I can talk about, some I can’t. The one I’m really proud of outside of Rock Camp is someone called Mr. Soul!, which is this incredible story of one of the greatest less known sources of the soul of black arts and music, in the history of television and the culture in general. And it’s out now. Actually, it’s in digital release. And it’s coming to PBS in February, and we’re also doing an Oscar run for it. So we’re really excited. We’re getting seen by a lot of people. And we’ve had crowds just go nuts. When we were able to tour it before COVID, we had literally the roof falling in with people so excited about it. And people were cheering in the middle of this thing. So yes, it’s a film I’m really proud of, directed by Melissa Haizlip. It’s a story of her uncle who started a show on PBS that was one of the greatest showcases for black talent in the 60s and 70s. And some of the things in the film are so relevant to where we are at now. When you watch the film, you’ll go, “Oh, my god, this feels like it was yesterday. It feels like right now.” So I hope everybody gets a chance to see that. I’m really proud of that. So I ended up co-producing that with Melissa.
That sounds really interesting. It has been so nice talking to you, Doug. And I’m really excited about the release of Rock Camp. And I encourage anybody that wants to fantasize about becoming a rockstar to go to rock and roll fantasy. So where do people go again? Tell us again where they can go to get tickets and where they can go to find out more about the movie, and where they can go to find out more about Doug Blush.
We’ll start with Rock Camp. And I just want to thank you, Cirina, for a great walkthrough, some shared history together. It’s always nice to know that we’ve traveled the same roads and that we have a lot of the same experiences. And I think a lot of people listening will also remember those days, or they’ll at least get to hear our stories of how it was and how it is. So thank you for that. The Rock Camp the movie is going to be best found at www.RockCampTheMovie.com, and you can buy tickets, see our trailer find out more about Rock Camp, all kinds of goodies there. Definitely check your local theater because we’re playing in a lot of them. I just noticed the list, and it’s playing all over the country. So if you look in your theater, they’ll have a link to go directly to a ticket purchase, and then you can watch it when you want to—pretty cool system.
That’s awesome. And what about you?
My wife and I, our now 20-year-old company Madpix Films, is at www.MadpixFilms.com.
Check it out, everybody. There are some great videos up there and trailers. And the two of you have an uncanny ability to pick not just interesting and motivating films, but you pick things that are really timely in terms of their news value and helping other people in the world. And that’s always really nice to see. I say break a leg for Rock Camp. I’m gonna go find Mr. Soul! and watch that. And please do stay in touch, and we’ll bring you back on again. This is Cirina Catania with OWC Radio. I’ve been speaking with Doug Blush, a multi-academy award-winning filmmaker, editor, director, producer, writer. I would say let’s just put him in the category of amazing creative for today. I’m gonna sign off and remember what I tell you guys every time, get up off your chair and go do something wonderful today.
You got it. Bye, Doug, thank you so much.
Bye. Thanks for your time. Cheers!
- Doug Blush
- Madpix Films
- Rock Camp
- Alice Cooper
- Amy Ziering
- Brian Hutchings
- Buddy Guy
- Carey Robinson Wolchok
- Dr Gregory Clarke
- Gene Simmons
- Iron Maiden
- Joe Perry
- Josh Bayer
- Judas Priest
- Kirby Dick
- Lenny Kravitz
- Lou Gramm
- Marianna Montague
- Marisa Hasper
- Melissa Haizlip
- Michael Apted
- Miles Wilkerson
- Morgan Neville
- Nancy Wilson
- P.T. Barnum
- Paul Stanley
- Philip Hodgetts
- Randy Fuchs
- Renee Barron
- Roger Daltrey
- Sammy Hagar
- Steven Spielberg
- Steven Tyler
- Sydney Pollack
- Tony Franklin
- 20 Feet From Stardom
- Mr. Soul!
- Period. End of Sentence.
- The Hunting Ground
- The Invisible War
- Up series
- Chain Camera Pictures
- Different by Design
- Jane Doe Films
- Media 100
- Tremolo Productions
- Hard Rock Cafe
- The Roxy Theatre
- Arri Alexa
- Canon C300 Mark II 4K
- FS7 Sony Pro
- Super 8
- Tell a story that you care about. Have a passion for the documentary that you will be making.
- Research your story. Gather facts and search for leads on interesting characters and storylines.
- Make a plan for your documentary. Figure out the style, structure, and characters in your story.
- Shoot your documentary with the equipment you have. You don’t need to buy high-end equipment when you are just starting in the industry.
- Be flexible in creating your documentary. Editing a documentary is a long process, there are many instances where you have to try different orders of scenes, cut some scenes, or add some scenes to tell your story in the most compelling way.
- Realize that documentaries take forever to make. They can sometimes take as long as 10-15 years depending on the subject.
- Keep an eye for new technology in the film industry that can help you access places and subjects easily on film.
- Learn other movie platforms to increase your skills and knowledge. Don’t be chained to one platform throughout your entire film career. Unless you work 100% at the same studio and they are 100% on one platform forever.
- Help your local theaters through this terrible time. Watch Rock Camp: The Movie in your local theaters by buying tickets at RockCamptheMovie.com.
- Check out Doug’s company website, MadPixFilms.com, to know more about his films and services.