Local filmmakers C. Scott McCoy and Laura Jean Hocking, who produced the Indie Memphis-winning Automusik Can Do No Wrong and its follow-up, Eat, are currently working on a documentary about the city's defunct but legendary punk/alternative venue the Antenna club.
The duo will preview their work-in-progress this weekend in the latest installment of the Brooks Museum's Reel to Real series, where they will screen scenes from Automusik Can Do No Wrong and selections from musical docs that have influenced them, culminating in a preview of their upcoming Antenna doc.
The completed film will feature an overview of the club's history, from its origins in the late '70s (as the Well), to the '80s and early-'90s heyday, to the lean final stretch in 1995, along the way showcasing rare live footage and interviews with the Oblivians, Panther Burns, the Klitz, the Modifiers, Pezz, Sobering Consequences, the Crime, the Grifters, and many more.
McCoy talked to the Flyer about the project. For a fuller version of the interview, see our pop culture blog, Sing All Kinds, at memphisflyer.com/blogs/SingAllKinds.
Flyer: What made you decide to make a film about the history of the Antenna?
C. Scott McCoy: A documentary about the Antenna club is one of the projects that Memphis filmmakers have thrown around for years. In October 2009, we were approached by John Floyd and Ross Johnson, who had been trying to sell a book proposal about the Memphis-music underground. They had some start-up funds and decided that a movie would be a better vehicle for the subject than a book, because that way they could introduce an audience to a lot of music that has been forgotten. After talking to them, we proposed to use the Antenna as a focal point for the project. We got Steve McGehee, the owner of the Antenna, on board as a producer, and away we went.
What are some of the challenges you've faced putting it together?
In the 1970s and '80s, it was expensive to take pictures, record video, and record your music. No one texted "I'm at the Antenna," and no one made their Facebook status "Calculated X rules!" It's been really hard to find vintage video and decent recordings of some of the early bands.
What are your plans at this point for releasing the film? Will it be on DVD, in theaters, etc.?
We plan to have a 90- to 120-minute theatrical cut by early 2011, hit the festival circuit, and do a limited theatrical run in Memphis. We are exploring a self-distribution model for the DVD, since we figure we know our audience better than anyone else. But if someone reading this wants to invest in a release, call me. In fact, if anyone wants to invest in any aspect of this project, I'm all ears. [Editor's note: If you want to contribute to the project, you can do so online at kickstarter.com. Search "Antenna documentary."]
What was your personal experience with/connection to the Antenna? Do you have a favorite memory?
Both Laura and I spent countless hours at the club. She says she fondly remembers being scarred for life by seeing the Modifiers as a teenager. I guess my favorite Antenna memory was when my band Pisshorse opened for Neighborhood Texture Jam, whom I idolized.
In the process of making the film, have you discovered any exciting music or bands or personalities that you didn't know much about?
I had heard about the Modifiers but had no idea what a force of nature they were until we uncovered a video of them from 1986. Another revelation has been how fresh some of this stuff still sounds. Eraserhead, Metro Waste, Distemper, Sobering Consequences, Barking Dog ... the list goes on. I played in a noise band called the New Intruders for years, and I had no idea we were following in the footsteps of Panther Burns.
Do you feel any pressure being the one in charge of the Antenna story, and, if so, how has it affected the filmmaking process?
We went from being excited to overwhelmed by the obligation to get it right. This is a big piece of Memphis history — one that is very close to our hearts and the hearts of a lot of people. We've come to accept that there's no way to tell this story without pissing some people off, so we're going to do our best to tell the story as truthfully as we can.
Sunday, July 25th
2 p.m.; $6 for museum members, $8 for nonmembers