By David Wilkins - Daily World Writer
Thursday, November 17, 2005 11:25 AM PST
A crew of documentary filmmakers from Los Angeles has been in Aberdeen this week, shooting a documentary on the life of the late Kurt Cobain one that will be narrated by Cobain himself.
The producers are drawing on taped interviews the Nirvana frontman did with Michael Azerrad, author of the Nirvana biography Come As You Are.
Using Cobain’s own voice to tell the story and focusing on the place where he grew up, director AJ Schnack said, is the filmmakers’ way of making the Grunge rock star human again instead of the untouchable icon his meteoric rise and tragic fall made him.
I have a nephew and a cousin who have become big Nirvana fans, said Schnack, 37. To them, Kurt has become this huge, larger-than-life figure. You’re completely unable to relate to him because he is such an icon. That’s not how I felt about him when he was alive, and I feel like that’s been lost. Especially because of the circumstances of his later life, and his death, I think now it’s not really about the music or the fact that he really was just a human being. And so I really wanted to deconstruct that a little bit, and what better way than to just let him talk?
Schnack met Azerrad a couple of years ago doing another documentary, and learned he had the tapes.
I knew Azerrad had written ‘Come As You Are,’ but I didn’t realize he had all this material. He told me he had 25 hours of interviews with Kurt, and he wanted to do something interesting and good with it, but he didn’t know what that would be. So I proposed this (film) idea, and that’s how we got started, Schnack said between shots at the Aberdeen Timberland Library Wednesday afternoon.
The film, budgeted at about $1 million, likely will be sent to film festivals some time next fall, according to Shirley Moyers, the film’s producer and Schnack’s wife. The couple previously collaborated on a documentary called Gigantic, about the New York rock band They Might Be Giants. As with their previous film, Moyers said, they hope to be able to show the movie in Aberdeen, Cobain’s home town, before it goes to general release.
I think we’ll have a rough cut ready likely in February, and we might make it for the summer festivals,Moyers said. More likely it will be ready in the fall. On ‘Gigantic,’ we did a screening for friends and family of They Might Be Giants, but we paid for that ourselves. On this film, we have investors, and sometimes they’re a little leery of who they show the film to before it goes to theaters. But it seems only reasonable that we could do a showing here for the community first.
In book form and various forms of documentaries, a lot of people are trying to bring family members and band members together to talk about the band, and put Kurt in some kind of context,the director said. What I wanted to do was to not do that at all, and not have anyone commenting on Kurt. Because I sort of feel that at this place in history, there’s such a mythology. So much controversy has been built up about him and about his life and death, that I really wanted to get back to how I related to him and Nirvana as a younger music fan, and just let Kurt talk.
The filmmakers aren’t using any archival footage, Schnack said, preferring to show what it’s like to live in Aberdeen now. There are also no interviews with talking heads or other so-called experts.
It’s just going to be 90 minutes of Kurt, and occasionally Michael Azerrad, talking about growing up in Aberdeen, living in Olympia, going to Seattle and eventually becoming the biggest rock star in the world, Schnack said.