The People Behind Teen A Go Go

I have known Melissa Kirkendall & Mark Nobles for quite a few years.  Their new film Teen A Go Go is about the Garage Band scene in Fort Worth, Texas. I saw the film and I really liked the way it captures an era.  You know I had to talk to them about it.

Director/ Co-Producer: Melissa Kirkendall

Melissa brings over seventeen years of experience in the areas of music and film production. She has worked as a Production Manager, Location Manager, Music Supervisor and Producer on eight films, several music videos and the Fox television program Prison Break. Melissa has also worked as a Producer, Programmer and Production Coordinator for major festivals, concerts and special events. Her extraordinary knowledge and experience in the music and film industries makes her uniquely qualified to portray the Teen-A-Go-Go story.

KB: I know you’ve been involved with music for a long time, how did you get involved in making a film?

MK: I started working in film in 2002 while still working in music.  I got into film in order to start making my own films, documentaries in particular.  Making a film about a subject I am so passionate about and knowledgeable about as a first film just seemed the right thing to do.

KB: Tell me about Teen A Go Go, how did that film come about?

MK: Mark Nobles was inspired by the Fort Worth Teens Scene CD series that Norton records put out.  He got in touch with me via a director I know.  As soon as he told me about the project, I was hooked!  I couldn’t believe that I did not know about such an incredible part of Fort Worth’s history let alone that what occurred here was a national phenomenon.

KB: What was the toughest part about making it?

MK: Not having any money.  Part of why it has taken so long to get this done is due to that rule of Cheap, Fast and Good but you can only have 2… Cheap was picked for us… Due to that we have had to continue to work in order to keep from being homeless in the process.

KB: Where did you find all the archival footage?

MK: Several of the people we interviewed had the footage and offered it up to us to use.  Some of the other footage was acquired by placing announcements on fan sites such as 60sgaragebands.com.  Once the word was out, more and more footage kept being unearthed.  People are still contacting us with footage.

KB: Any surprises now that the film is finally finished? As far as how the film is being received.

MK: The only thing that comes to mind is the younger fans.  We knew the 40 – 70 year old crowd was gonna dig it, but when 20-somethings rave about it that really excites me!  If they think it’s cool, then it must be, right?!

KB: What’s next for you?

MK: I am in the process of developing a few different projects – a couple that would require lots of travel, possibly to a foreign country or two.  Whatever gets funded first will be my next project.

KB: Is there a film that was a huge influence on you?  What is it about this film that influenced you?

MK: Wow, there are too many to list.  As a kid I really loved Alfred Hitchcock movies.  As far as style goes, I would say I am very influenced by 60 minutes… I have been a fan since I reluctantly started watching it with my father as a little girl.  I try to ask questions the way the journalists on that show do.  One of my favorite docs is the “Fog of War”.  The way this film was shot was simple and effective.  I studies “Hype”, “In the Shadows of Motown” and the “Filth and the Furry” before I stared editing the film.

Producer: Mark A. Nobles

Mark has over thirteen years experience as a scriptwriter of educational, music video and documentary programming.  Mark has done production work for NPR as well as writing and co-producing a weekly two-minute module for radio called Texas Music Minutes, which was syndicated on public radio stations throughout Texas. Mark is currently focusing on Teen-A-Go-Go and has other projects in various stages of development.

KB: How did you get involved with Teen A Go Go?

MN: I read a couple of articles in local papers about the Norton Fort Worth Teen Scene Anthology. I had no idea this scene ever existed and could find no other doc that had been made on the subject. I went to a CD release party for the FWTS CDs and met several of the musicians and two local music historians that had done a lot of the research. The stories were great, the musicians were natural story tellers and there was plenty of archival pictures and footage available. So, I had two of the three elements I needed to make, what I thought, would be a great music doc. It was a nervous drive home with those CDs because if the music sucked, the project was over before it began. Needless to say I was ecstatic when I heard the music and discovered there was so many great songs.

KB: Have you always been a music fan?

MN: Music has always been a big part of my life. I played sax in school and was a horrible bass player in a few cover bands in college. Music is how we mark our lives in so many ways. If the right song comes on the radio it can transplant you 25 years back in time and you can feel and taste the memories.

KB: How did you fund this film?

MN: I begged. There is no other polite way to put it. I begged for money. I begged people to work for cheap on the film. Melissa and I pulled in every favor we had to pull this off. I also have to say that there have been literally dozens and dozens of people that have pitched in whatever they had financially or with their talent to help us make this film. The support we have gotten from the music and film communities has been tremendous.

KB: How did you track down all of these people?

MN: David Campbell and Larry Harrison are two local music historians that tracked down all the music and many of the musicians from the FWTS CDs. They were invaluable to the project. They had many contacts and those just led us to more. Also, fan sites like 60sgaragebands and garagemusic.com helped us get the word out.

KB: As the Producer were there any issues that drove you crazy that other filmmakers should think about before they jump in to making a film like this? I am thinking specifically of rights issues with the archival footage.

MN: Get a lawyer for the music and footage rights. Music rights in particular are a cluster freakin nightmare. I didn’t know what I was getting into and attempted to handle things myself. After a dozen conversations with some of the big boys in the music publishing business I wound up in a dark corner, crying for my mom and rocking in a fetal position for three days. It is insanely confusing. A friend of Melissa’s recommended a lawyer in New York. She has been great. I will never do a project without her again. So, my advice is get a lawyer early in the process. The sooner the better and don’t go cheap. A good one is worth every penny.

KB: What was the smartest decision you made while making it?

MN: Choosing Melissa to direct was hands down the best decision I made for the film. She has delivered a champagne film on a rain water budget.

KB: What was the dumbest?

MN: Just refer to the licensing portion above. Do not attempt to handle rights issues alone.

KB: What’s next?

MN: I’m co-producing a happening documentary on the Cellar. The Cellar was a beat/hippy club in Fort Worth from the late fifties to the early seventies. A ton of great artists and musicians cut their teeth in the Cellar including the members of ZZ Top, Jimmie and Stevie Vaughn, both Edgar and Johnny Winter and comedian George Carlin. The Kennedy Secret Service agents were supposedly there until six in the morning the day Kennedy was shot in Dallas. It is called You Must Be Weird Or You Wouldn’t Be Here. You can find a trailer on Youtube and it should be released in the spring of 2011. After that I’m thinking of producing a sports documentary.

KB: Where can I buy copies of Teen A Go Go?

MN: Our website is www.teen-a-go-go.com.