Who the F**K Is That Guy? director Drew Stone spoke to Solzy at the Movies about the documentary film.
Thanks for joining Solzy at the Movies today. How are things treating you?
Drew Stone: Things are good. I have 2 films that just came out at the same time so it’s a pretty exciting time around here. I’m not sick of seeing either of the films yet at the screenings that I’m doing so that’s a good thing. Every dog has his day and I’m pretty much having mine as a independent filmmaker right now.
What drew you to write and direct a documentary on Michael Alago? When was it that you became interested in his story?
Drew Stone: The voice over narrative intro for the film that I did pretty much sums it up. In the 80’s and 90’s here in New York City it seemed as if every time I would go out to see music I would just keep seeing the same guy over and over again. Whether it was backstage at a big arena concert or at a small club, this guy was there. I just kept saying to myself; ”Who The Fuck Is That Guy”? After I met him and got to know him, it struck me that Michael Alago has a uniquely interesting story in a backdrop that is incredibly intriguing given his impact on music. A gay, hispanic kid who grew up in a Hasidic neighborhood in Brooklyn whose drive and passion for heavy and hard music and eventually went on to change the face of modern music. It was a paradox I wanted to capture with the New York City aesthetic that influenced my life and millions of others.
Michael Alago has had a storied A&R career. Should the average music fan know his name?
Drew Stone: He is a very interesting character but not a name that is particularly in the mainstream. His passion for aggressive-sounding music and his tenacious belief that some of these heavy bands could go mainstream despite the prevalence of pop music at the time made him well known in the “Heavy Music” circles but not outside that. Remember — there was likely little or no mainstream or commercial appeal to the music that he selected to push into the major label offices. He went with his heart and the love of the genre. He has a unique sensibility that draws him to bands and sounds that no one else in modern times has been able to execute successfully in the music industry. Think about it — without Michael’s enduring tenacity with bands like Metallica and White Zombie, where would rock music be today?
Having turned to Kickstarter to help fund the documentary, how important are crowdfunding sites like Kickstarter and Indiegogo for indie filmmakers? Would this documentary have been made without the funds?
Drew Stone: In this particular case, Kickstarter was crucial in the making of this film. Many people who Alago helped out early in their careers like Rob Zombie stepped up and contributed which helped get this film done. For an independent filmmaker, crowd funding can be the difference between a film getting done or not. I’d be fucked without it.
How did working on this doc compare to that of the Boston Hardcore film a few years ago?
Drew Stone: The Boston Hardcore Film and my other new film The New York Hardcore Chronicles Film are more “Boots on the ground” DIY kind of films. Also when I did the Boston Hardcore film 5 years ago social media wasn’t really up to speed the way it is now which enabled a farther reach these days. Also I printed up DVD’s of those 2 films because the people that love the Hardcore / punk music genre still want to hold something in their hands like a DVD whereas I don’t think that printing up a DVD of the Alago film would be the way to go.
Your dad was an associate producer for the Oscar-winning animated short film, The Critic. Do you have any Mel Brooks stories?
Drew Stone: Hahahhaha, yeah I remember being with my dad at the Friars Club in NYC as a kid and Mel came over and launched into a hilarious profanity laced tirade insulting my dad in front of the whole dining room. It was comedy at it’s best. I think Mel Brooks is an American treasure and that Blazing Saddles is the funniest movie ever made.
You’re working a documentary on Muhammad Ali. What is the progress on this doc and when should we expect to see it in theaters, on demand, or Digital HD?
Drew Stone: The Ali film “Me Whee” that I am executive producing is looking like it’s going to be released on I-Tunes / Amazon / etc. on January 17th 2018, which is the anniversary of Ali’s birthday. The film is a re-release of a documentary my father did over 40 years ago. I did a new film to tape transfer from the original 16 mm film and it looks great. It saw a very limited release in 1976 so I am really looking forward to it finally seeing the light of day again after all these years.
Thanks again for your time.
Drew Stone: Thank you for having me and I appreciate all the support out there for me as a truly independent filmmaker. Check me out at: www.stonefilmsnyc.com and www.thenewyorkhardcorechroniclesfilm.com
Discover the incredible life of Michael Alago, a gay Puerto Rican kid from Brooklyn who went on to shape and reinvent the world’s musical landscape — first as a 19-year-old talent booker at the legendary Ritz nightclub in New York City and then as a 24-year-old A&R exec who signed Metallica, White Zombie and worked with other notable artists including Nina Simone, John Lydon and Cyndi Lauper. The film tells the tender, loving and sometimes self-destructive story of a man who “just loved music.” He had the passion to bring it to the world on his terms and lived to talk about it. Barely.
XLrator Media releases Who the F**K Is That Guy? into theaters on July 21, 2017, and VOD and iTunes on July 25, 2017.