HOW WE DID IT
Alan Spearman, the director of Amplified, talks with $5 Cover creator Craig Brewer about the production of $5 Cover and the documentaries Spearman created of the Memphis music scene.
Alan Spearman, Director
A native of Atlanta, Alan, 35, conceived and shot all of "Amplified." For a guy gainfully employed as a Commercial Appeal staff photojournalist, he hangs out by the river quite a bit. "Nobody," his first feature documentary, tells the story of one man's inward journey as he canoes the Mississippi.
Craig Brewer, Creator, "$5 Cover"
With a Flip camera in hand and song in his heart, Craig, 38, is Memphis’s celebrated, neo-gothic enfant terrible. He brought an Oscar to Memphis by featuring Three Six Mafia’s "Hard Out Here for a Pimp" in his acclaimed "Hustle & Flow." For a writer-director who chained Christina Ricci to a radiator in "Black Snake Moan," he carries surprisingly deep knowledge of musical theater.
John Sale, Executive Producer
John, 52, is assistant managing editor for visuals at The Commercial Appeal, a wordy way of saying he stares at pictures much of the day. He’s been in the newspaper business since he was 16, during which time his musical interests have failed to advance. His continuing penchant for the Grateful Dead irritates friends and family members alike.
John Hubbell, Producer
John, 37, is creative director of Old Bridge Media, a multimedia storytelling company. He produced "Love Sniper," "A Cautionary Tale," "Dr. Doom," "Manifest" and "Home Grown." Mostly, though, his role in "Amplified" was suggesting over-the-top ideas so Alan Spearman could say: "We don’t have time for that."
Andria Lisle, Producer
As one of the South's pre-eminent and prodigious music writers, Andria also has a Midtown house worthy of "MTV Cribs" — replete even with Harlan T. Bobo craftsmanship. She produced "Give ‘Em Game," "Sex Ed," "+/-," "Hold Fast," "Jack the Riffer" and "Generation Vibration." When she likes something, Andria is prone to say: "Eggs-actly."
Eileen Meyer, Editor
As the primary editor "Amplified", Eileen could say she saw the sun rise and set from her workstation deep inside the newspaper — if only it had a window. A native of Durham, N.C. also served on the main unit "$5 Cover" unit as 2nd assistant director, where she yelled "Rolling!" with startling authority.
Brian Wentzloff, Site Developer
Brian, 24, came to Memphis six years ago from Olivet, Mich. In 2007, he received his bachelor's degree in music industry studies from the University of Memphis. A drummer and classically trained pianist, he lives in Midtown. The $5 Cover project, he says, "accurately represented that whole scene."
Claudia Rhea, Site Designer
A native of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Claudia, 37, ran her own graphic design business until joining The Commercial Appeal this year. She has studied graphic design at the University of San Carlos in Guatemala City, and maintains a passion for nature photography and film. "All these… artists (in 'Amplified') looked very real to me," she says.
Ryan McGahan, Title Designer
In ripping production stills into shreds to create "Amplified" title cards, Ryan, a Memphis native, may have been mistaken for a Memphis College of Art student in the middle of a nervous breakdown. He also aided in the design of Harlan T. Bobo’s "Sex Ed."
Qaaim Goodwin, Project Manager, "Home Grown"
Qaaim, from Columbia, S.C., studies graphic design at the Memphis College of Art. He has also studied at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C. with an emphasis in information design and interactive media. Credit him with adding a hummingbird to the world of Muck Sticky.
Travis Thomas, animator, "Home Grown"
A Memphis native, Travis says he added "the little characters drawn into the background" for Muck Sticky's "Home Grown." "I've always seen that van," Travis said of Muck's multi-colored wheels, frequently spotted around town. Travis has a year of study left at the Memphis College of Art, and aspires to join an animation studio after graduation.
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$5 Cover Amplified Summary:
Intimate, thoughtful, always entertaining and often formally daring, the 12 documentaries that comprise the anthology "$5 Cover Amplified" reveal a modern Memphis music scene that is as creative, passionate and vibrant as in the city's commercial heyday, when Elvis, Isaac Hayes and Al Green demonstrated that visionary art and popular culture could be inseparable as the 'A' and 'B' sides of a vinyl record.
Produced as a complement to Craig Brewer's episodic MTV drama series/ new media experiment, "$5 Cover," the "Amplified" series of documentary portraits chronicles the rousing art, uncertain careers and sometimes problematic home lives of a diverse, distinctive and often eccentric group of Memphis music-makers.
Mesmerizing Valerie June croons confessional lyrics from beneath a Medusan tangle of dreadlocks that's as thick as her family ties and her musical roots. The puckish Tommy Chong-meets-Pippi Longstocking "clown prince of rap," Muck Sticky, proves to be as dedicated to the welfare of his mother and sister as to his own pursuit of happiness. Punk rock pioneer Jack Oblivian, who plays to sell-out nightclub crowds in Europe, makes ends meet in Memphis by cleaning houses. "Crunk" hip-hop artist Al Kapone is shown to be a tough but loving father, bringing new urgency to the concept of rapper as "role model." Troubadour of heartbreak Harlan T. Bobo is portrayed impressionistically, through stop-motion animation, allegorical fantasy and other conceits.
Whatever the focus or style, the direction of Alan Spearman, an award-winning photographer/filmmaker with The Commercial Appeal, ensures that each segment is as visually assured as it is musically irresistible. "$5 Cover Amplified" was co-produced by Spearman, Andria Lisle and John Hubbell, and edited by Eileen Meyer; their familiarity with the Memphis "scene" ensures unprecedented authenticity as well as access.
John Beifuss- The Commercial Appeal