At rock shows, the unthinkable can happen. Bat heads are bitten off, stages collapse, drumsticks are jammed into orifices, and — if you’re lucky — the music has transformed you and the rest of the crowd. That live spontaneity creates a level of heightened excitement that is absent from pre-recorded music tracks and for director Dylan Allen, seeing his favorite rock band at a late night basement show in 2005 was the genesis for today’s Staff Pick Premiere, “The Privates.” As Allen explains it, that band was “the entire inspiration for the movie.” Pulling narrative cues from their lyrics and creating a fictional version of the band itself, Allen’s short tells the story of an aspiring, yet self-destructive rock band (The Privates) with a sci-fi twist. In the film, they aren’t destructive in the cliched sense of “sex, drugs and rock and roll.” Instead, their music literally causes destruction with a radioactive quality that blows up amps in their basement practice space, turns their demo tapes to goop, and even starts electrical fires.
The rock and sci-fi narrative blend of “The Privates” is executed with incredible attention to detail that is a blast to watch. Allen and producer Eddy Vallante both grew up playing in bands and all the leads — Lilli Stein, Rachel Trachtenburg, Alex Herrald and Omar Maskati — learned the songs on their respective instruments to bring fantastic performances to the film. All this, blended with a rocking soundtrack courtesy of The Privates’ back catalog, results in a film that feels authentic and offers a unique commentary about the pursuit of a creative career in 2017.
To Allen, “The self-destructive energy felt like an ideal metaphor for the frustration that all independent artists encounter while trying to do what they do when no one could care less.” So why bother trying to create anything? Especially when your craft requires you to put out fires along the way? The spirit of “The Privates” and the pursuit of unknown bands everywhere answers this question perfectly. Because trying to make anything creative with friends is fun, cool, and can result in amazingly unexpected things. Including radioactive fires. So, if you fall in love with “The Privates,” Allen encourages you to “not only expect a feature, but demand it.” The feature-length script is done and the story only gets weirder from here.
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