Documenting a dream
TwentyFiveEight Productions documents Farley, Underground Saints in Ireland
After a few days of growing accustomed to life in front of the camera, local musicians from Underground Saints and Farley will soon pack their bags and head to the Emerald Isle with filmmakers from TwentyFiveEight Productions in Scranton.
Farley and Underground Saints will perform a number of gigs in Ireland, including several at the famous Ballina Salmon Festival in the County of Mayo. Ten musicians will be joined by Markie Dennebaum, Tim McDermott and Jim Reynolds from TwentyFiveEight Productions, who will document the experience from start to finish. (Think U2’s Rattle and Hum).
We recently caught up with filmmakers Dennebaum, McDermott and musician Pat Flynn to chat about the project that has rekindled the Saints’ creative spark, and presented a great opportunity for collaboration among artists.
After spending just a few minutes with them in TwentyFiveEight’s new facility at 703 N. Washington Ave., Scranton, it was easy to see the camaraderie and respect these artists have for each other. “I think that our creative headspace is very similar,” Flynn explained. “We connect. We understand the hard work that goes into it … I think we approach each of our artforms in a similar way, and I think that’s why it works so well.”
Dennebaum agreed. “We’re totally into it. He (Flynn) loves music, I love music and that’s why I got involved. I love photography and music, and the perfect blend is this moment.”
On July 7, the group will leave for Ireland to document their experience performing at the Ballina Salmon Festival and at numerous other venues in the area. McDermott, who has the daunting task of editing the footage once the team returns to Scranton, estimated they’ll shoot 700 minutes of film a day for six days.
“When all is said and done, we’ll probably have 120 hours of footage to go through to get down to 90 minutes,” Dennebaum said.
In order to help them get to this point and bring Flynn’s idea to life, they needed a little (maybe more than a little) international assistance. Enter Flynn’s family in Ballina, particularly a delightful relative named Margaret Popplewell. Her role is a key one. Flynn had sent her a few cds and she enjoyed them so much she began sharing them with others. “She loved Underground Saints and Farley and she’d say, ‘Send 20 over. Send 30, 40,’ Flynn said. “And I’d ask, ‘What are you doing with all these?’ She said people loved them and they were buying them without her even trying. She got us involved in radio over there and it’s been a really good working relationship,” he said.
Underground Saints are extremely popular in Ireland, and they are getting airplay on one of Ireland’s biggest radio stations, Midwest Radio. “We always did think our music would work really well in the European markets — Ireland, England, obviously mainland Europe — and it did resonate over there immediately. Hopefully, this is the beginning of hitting England and other areas as well,” he said.
Though she has no experience in the music industry, Popplewell must have been fueled by pure faith and belief in the music. She rolled up her sleeves and coordinated their entire schedule combining festival gigs with other appearances.
Dennebaum explained they’re focused on offering a true glimpse into the music world and perhaps their work will make people stop and consider the state of music today, and how it’s changed in the last 30 years. “I met them in 2001 and I’ve been a fan ever since. We ended up becoming friends … I saw the struggle. I saw the fight. I saw the pride swallowing siege that it was, and these guys are still doing it. They’re killing it. They’re making great music. Why isn’t anyone talking about it? And that’s why I want to document it.”
Flynn noted the talent that has come from this area. “When you look at the cultural history here and really study the history of the area, there’s been a lot of great people from here. HBO started in Wilkes-Barre, and Bill O’Reilly worked at WBRE,” he said.
“A lot of talent comes out of here, but it’s the ones who are willing to take the chance (who make the difference); the ones who are ready to say, ‘I’m going to stand at the edge of this cliff and I’m not going to be afraid and I’m going to jump,” Dennebaum said. “We want to have a rough cut ready by September to get it out to film festivals because I think that’s how good it’s going to be. This is not for the money. We all sat down collectively and said we need to figure out a way to pay everyone back, and we’re all good with that. If we can cover our costs and raise awareness and visibility on everything involved with it from the Saints and Farley and talent from this area — and over there — we can make some sort of impact. There are the people who say if you touch one person’s life, you’ve made a difference. We don’t want to touch one person’s life; we want to touch a lot of people’s lives. You can’t put a price tag on that. It’s invaluable. That’s ultimately what I think we’re capable of doing.”
— julie Imel