Chris Fetchko is a film writer, director and producer. His latest film, All in Time, will premiere in New York and Los Angeles on Oct. 7 and will be shown at the F.M. Kirby Center for the Performing Arts in Wilkes-Barre on Oct. 16. He is also the manager of the rock band The Badlees. Fetchko, 42, is native of West Hazleton and a graduate of West Hazleton High School. He is also a graduate of Syracuse University. He lives in Mountaintop.
Meet Chris Fetchko …
What was the inspiration behind All in Time?
The Badlees. End of discussion.
Well, I’m going to ask you to discuss it some more.
That’s pretty much what it is. (Laughs) This is the first film that I spearheaded, creatively. It was my baby. My first film, I co-wrote with somebody else. And my second film, I just produced. And while I was doing all of that, I starting following the band, starting getting to know the band and eventually started managing them. Film wasn’t full-time for me back then. I was balancing things between film and the band. I always wanted to write a music film, but also wanted to do something that would give exposure to The Badlees beyond where they were. I came to The Badlees table after their commercial peak, so it was frustrating for me, because they were still making great records, and I wanted to get them back up there again. But I didn’t want to do a documentary or just write a story about a band.
And that’s where the storyline comes in?
I met a girl and had a relationship and had this love/work balance situation where I loved my job managing The Badlees so much that I actually neglected the relationship. And we broke up as a result of the band. And I had to realize what was really important in my life. There’s a line in the movie where the guy says, “I’m in love with the band more than you.” Some people might say, “Just take him to the psych ward right now.” That all happened, in reality, in 2004. And I had an eye-opening awakening about life and what matters. And my solution to resolve personal issues is with writing. So I had this “breakup” movie. But there are so many of those, so I thought, “Maybe I can figure out a way to make a breakup movie and a band movie together.” That was the initial seed.
And the band actually became involved in the film, correct?
Yeah. I wrote the script with the real guys in my head. I sent it to the band, and they were very cooperative. Their music is in it, and two of the guys, Pete Palladino and Ron Simasek, are actually in the film. It’s a fictitious band in the movie. It’s not The Badlees. They’re called the Damnsels. But all of the live performances in the movie were recorded live and all of the guys came and performed, so everybody was involved.
With this film, you’re the co-writer, co-producer and co-director. What do you enjoy the most about making films?
There’s so many different aspects to it. When you write a script, you’re by yourself. And then you have to go raise money and put a sales hat on and get the funding. And then you’ve got to go and actually make the movie, and that comes with a whole whirlwind of other things. And then you’re back to being isolated in an editing suite by yourself and figuring out how the film works. Then you take it out to film festivals. Then you go back to being by yourself, designing posters and things like that. There’s always a different aspect. I’ve been working on this project for about five solid years. But I never got bored.
Do you enjoy directing actors on the set?
There’s one specific thing that I like about directing. And it’s when you say “cut” on the set. There’s a 75-person crew around you, and you’re watching the monitor, and the actors are doing something, and sometimes it’s not working. And you say “cut.” And you then have to walk about 20 feet to get to the actors. And in that 20-foot walk, you have to figure out what to say to these people. And essentially everybody is watching you, because you’re the reason why they’re standing there. And so for me, that walk is a rush. You have 20 feet to figure it out. It’s a rush in a good and bad way. But when you get it right, it’s awesome.
Besides The Badlees, who are some of your musical favorites?
One of the reasons I love The Badlees is because you can go to a club and see them and have a good time, but you can also take their CDs home and listen to them and reflect on the lyrics. And that’s the kind of music I like. The Beatles, Dylan, Springsteen … that’s what I like.
Favorite thing about NEPA?
All-time favorite movie?
All-time favorite TV show?
Gambling. I like Blackjack.
Biggest pet peeve?
When people want to do something and they don’t do it. I don’t like to hear people say, “You know what I’d like to do some day …” It frustrates me. Just do it. If those words come out of your mouth, you should be doing it.
Is there anything about you that might surprise even your friends?
I’m actually a romantic, but not in the love sense. I view the world in an idealistic way, and it frustrates me constantly when something doesn’t go the way I think it should. I will come up with a plan and I execute it — whether that be having a great dinner with somebody, or making a great movie, or putting on a great concert with a band. And if it doesn’t work out, that will put me down for a couple of days. I set a high bar for myself. I don’t think that would surprise my friends, but I think it would surprise them to know how much it hits me when things don’t work out.
Defining personal moment?
My grandfather said to me once, “It’s OK if you make mistakes. Just don’t make the same ones twice.” And I make a lot of mistakes, but I give myself the freedom to make them. I’m not afraid to take chances, like go and make a movie, or go and do something crazy. Sometimes I make mistakes. But I don’t make the same ones twice. That’s my rule, and I’m getting better at it. And that came from my grandfather.
UP CLOSE & PERSONAL with ALAN K. STOUT is a regular feature in electric city, profiling people from all walks of life throughout NEPA. Reach Alan at email@example.com.