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pogo2posterFINAL2The Last Pogo Jumps Again studies the evolution of Toronto from small town to big city and it’s pop/counter-culture lifestyle during the early and mid-70s.  It centers around the first wave of Toronto punk rock and new-wave music, from the Ramones playing the New Yorker Theatre in ’76 through the police shutting down Teenage Head and causing a riot at the Horseshoe Tavern’s infamous “The Last Pogo” concert in December 1978.

London had the Sex Pistols, New York had the Ramones, but Toronto had a punk movement all it’s own.  The Toronto landscape by the late ’70s was forever changed with the infusion of the DIY/Punk/Alternative Culture(s) movement.  Six years in the making, The Last Pogo Jumps Again successfully explores the whys and wherefores of what was arguably one of the most exciting but misunderstood movements in Toronto’s history.

The DVD contains the 204 minute documentary, plus over a 100 minutes of added material, and a snazzy 24-page booklet.  Check the Shop for details on where you can purchase it.

The Last Pogo (1978) is the documentary that chronicled the last punk rock show at the Horseshoe Tavern when it was run by legendary Toronto promoters The Garys (Topp and Cormier) featuring The Scenics, Cardboard Brains, The Secrets, The Mods, The Ugly, The Viletones and Teenage Head. The Last Pogo was released on DVD in 2008 to great reviews.  Available at the Shop.

How we made the feature film Roadkill

November 6th, 2018

With the 40th anniversary of the infamous Last Pogo concert coming up on December 1st, it would be appropriate to plug the big-screen late-night screening of The Last Pogo Jumps Again at Toronto’s Revue Cinema.  And we’ll do that soon.  But in the meantime, a friend commented on social media how much she still enjoyed the 1989 feature film I produced, Roadkill, and not being able to figure out how to post the essay on Facebook or Twitter or Whatevs or Fuckaround, here’s a little story on how me and Bruce McDonald made our award-winning feature.

ROADKILL

After I made the short films BOLLOCKS, THE LAST POGO, and A TRIP AROUND
LAKE ONTARIO, I produced and directed a short film called THE MYSTERIOUS
MOON MEN OF CANADA. I wrote it with John Pearson, and it was based on a
short story by the late Canadian novelist/poet David McFadden. It was a
“mockumentary” — a fake documentary — about a filmmaker on the trail of a
couple guys from a small town in Ontario who may have flown to the moon in
1959, a full ten years before the Americans, but because they were Canadian,
they were too modest to tell anyone about it. Bruce McDonald helped me with the
editing, and we had so much fun together making it, we decided it was high time
to try and get a feature film done.

L-R Randy Tyrrell, Colin Brunton in The Mysterious Moon Men of Canada

As we started to scheme up what would eventually become the feature film
ROADKILL, to our great surprise, THE MYSTERIOUS MOON MEN OF CANADA
went on to win a Genie Award (Canada’s lame answer to the Oscars) for Best Live
Action Short film. I felt like a bit of a fraud winning it, since I knew that there
was no way all the eligible voters had seen all of the shorts, and it was all politics
anyway. But somehow, politics or no, we came up the winners. I think the
reason we won was because more voters knew Bruce and I, and we had the best
title of all the shorts. Whatever. Winning the Genie sure didn’t hurt our chances
of getting the money and support for our first feature film.

Bruce’s idea was to make a documentary about this local rock band called A
NEON ROME, a band notorious for, among other things, putting up (tongue-incheek)
posters around town praising the use of heroin. They were a hard-core,
take-no-prisoners rock band, and we were going to go on tour with them and film
whatever mayhem they could cause as they roamed Northern Ontario.
Bruce then started thinking about building a bit of a story to go along with it,
’cause then we’d have, like, a real movie. He hooked up with Don McKellar, and
Don worked out a basic story line. We brought our good friend Al Magee on as
story editor, which didn’t entail actual “editing” but rather helping us figure out
what the story itself was going to be. As Don would write a page, he’d pass it on to
Bruce and Al and I, and we’d add our two cents worth. I thought of creative ideas
as well as budget problems, helped eliminate scenes that were too big and tried to
come up with clever alternatives. Al was an enormous help, and would
constantly ask us mind-boggling questions like “Why do you need this scene?”,
“What’s this scene all about?”, and the funniest of all, “I am going to get paid,
right?”

The office we worked out of was a ten foot by five foot space in a beat-up building
in downtown Toronto, and as small as it was, we shared our modest space with a
guy called Ed Ackerman, his monster-sized animation stand, and piles of banker
boxes, empty coffee cups, overflowing ashtrays and the occasional abandoned
and unidentifiable food stuff.

Somewhere along the line a few things happened that changed the complexion of
our proposed movie. Looking over Don’s treatment one day, and seeing the word
“roadkill” in it, I thought that that would be a better and much snappier title than
ALL THE CHILDREN ARE IN. I called Bruce in, Bruce called Don, someone called
Al, and we all agreed on the title change. When we called Neil, the lead singer of
A NEON ROME, to tell him this, we thought the line was dead. We’d dialed the
right number, and it sounded as though the receiver had been picked up, but
nobody was responding to us. We thought we could hear some quiet tapping, but
we weren’t sure. We hung up and tried the number again. Same thing. Little
taps, no voice. Slightly worried that our “star” might be in some sort of trouble,
Bruce ventured over to Neil’s apartment later that evening and was let in by his
girlfriend. Neil was fine. But he’d decided that for some obscure pot-fueled
spiritual reason to take a “vow of silence”. For how long, no one knew. And Neil
wasn’t saying. But since this might cause some problems with dialogue, we
started to search for someone new. By this time Don had finished a twenty-five
page document that was somewhere between an outline and a first draft. It
wasn’t a complete script, but we thought there was enough there to make a film
out of, and we were confident and cocky enough to think that we could fill in the
gaps as we shot it.

Bruce had received Canada and Ontario Arts Council grants worth about seventy
thousand dollars — a small fortune for any struggling filmmaker. It was some
sort of testament to our intestinal fortitude that some of it wasn’t blown on
frivolities, like food and shelter. But Bruce hung on to it, and we hung tough.
We put together a little press-kit style book, a sort of funky flashy presentation
kit for a couple of grand, savings earned from Bruce editing an early Atom
Egoyan film. We figured out how we could at least get the film shot for the
money we had, but not much more — no editing, no mixing, no free lunch. We had
a cast and crew as excited about the project as we were, and with our budget and
overblown egos we were locked ‘n’ loaded, and ready to rock ‘n’ roll.
At the same time, we had heard of this place called The OFDC (The Ontario Film
Development Corporation), and decided to fill out an application form and see if
we could get some money out of them.

We applied for about a hundred and twenty thousand dollars. In a cover letter
that was straightforward and to the point, we told them: Give us this money
’cause we’re going to make a great little rock ‘n’ road movie, and if you don’t,
you’re going to look like losers, not us. (In the nicest way possible, of course).
But as cocky and punky as it was, we pointed out just how we could pull off
making a worthwhile feature film for under a couple of hundred thousand
dollars: Screenwriter and lead actor Don McKellar would act as continuity
person; we would borrow most of our props and wardrobe, ’cause our identical
twin Art Directors, Geoff and Jim Murrin had the keys to a Toronto production
company’s warehouse and a midnight visit one Sunday might would fill our art
department and wardrobe needs very nicely, thank you very much; the script
was structured to encourage improvisation (i.e. we didn’t really have that much
dialogue figured out yet) and we’d have our writer with us all the time (when he
wasn’t trying to figure out what a continuity person did); the crew for the film
would play, for the most part, the crew in the film; we’d shoot it in black and
white to make it distinctively different, and save a few bucks, not worrying about
colour themes or anything; and we had lots of friends and relatives who would
help us out for locations and lunches.

Colin Brunton, poseur, photo by Chris Buck

When the day came for out big “pitch” to them, we knew that the application
forms were looked at in the order they arrived, but we were prepared. We tucked
ten thousand dollars of fake American hundred dollar bills in between the back
pages of the application form, and when the receptionist took the package from
me, I asked her if she could slip it near the top of the pile so we could get ours
looked at faster. She politely started to tell me of the rules and regulations they
had, but I told her that if she just looked in the back of the package, she might get
a nice surprise. Curious, she opened it up, and dozens of what appeared to be
American hundreds drifted to the floor. Her jaw dropped, her eyes widened, and
I winked at her. She started blubbering that she couldn’t possibly accept the
blatant bribe, and I responded by politely (hey, we’re all polite up here, okay?)
that she shouldn’t worry, and she should start thinking more like a New Yorker
than a Canadian. Then Bruce and I broke into big grins, told her it was a joke,
and went up to meet with Louise Clarke, the officer at the OFDC who would decide
if our project was worthy of consideration. We fast-talked and bullshitted our
way through the meeting, not taking it seriously at all, and the meeting ended
with Louise telling us that we’d know in about a month. The specific date of the
“yes” or “no” landed exactly on our first day of principal photography. We really
didn’t think we had much of a shot, but we really didn’t care. We had a lot of faith
in our project, and we just knew that somehow it was going to get made.

Bruce and I wanted to ensure that we had a sort of “gender-balanced” crew, an
equal amount of guys and gals. Once we started putting a crew list together, we
realized that it almost all guys. Which is okay, but we thought that for the overall
vibe of the shoot, we should make an effort to hire some women.

And at great expense to us (paying for travel and accommodation), we had a
woman from Montreal lined-up to be our sound recordist. Unfortunately, she
landed a job she couldn’t turn down, one that paid her easily three times what we
could afford, and had to back out at the last moment. With this idea of having a
female sound recordist stuck in our heads, we contacted beginner recordist
Herwig Gayer who we knew from LIFT, the Toronto Filmmakers’ Co-op, and asked
him if he would like to take a stab at recording sound on his first feature film.

Herwig was pretty enthusiastic. Herwig was gung-ho. Herwig was a keener.
Then I told him that we really had our hearts set on a female recordist, and told
him that he could have the job, his first gig on a feature, but on one unusual
condition: He had to record the whole movie dressed as a woman. Herwig
became very quiet for a moment, and I wondered for a second if this “vow of
silence” business was contagious. Only slightly less eager, Herwig took the job.
Sometimes it takes a real man to pretend to be a woman, and Herwig didn’t
disappoint. He toughed out the whole shoot in a dazzling variety of outfits,
playing the sound recordist for the renegade film crew within the film, and
recorded some decent sound to boot. It was “as a matter of fact”: No reference or
mention of why the sound recordist for the film crew in the movie is in drag, and I
don’t even know if that many people even noticed it. Herwig’s real test came
when we ventured up to the Sudbury region in Northern Ontario, an area not
especially famous for it’s transvestites, but even up there, no one seemed to
notice, or if they did, they didn’t care. Maybe they thought this was to be
expected from a Film Crew from Toronto.

On the first day of principal photography, we were hunkered down at Bruce’s
parent’s home in the country, filming Don as the aspiring serial killer taking
target practice in the backyard. Bruce’s father was our marksman, and nailed all
the milk-filled bottles we had lined up on a fence. In the back of our mind’s, Bruce
and I kept thinking about the call we would get that day from the OFDC. When we
started out, we thought it was pretty funny and pretty bold that we were going
out to shoot our first feature with not nearly enough money. As we got closer and
closer to our first day of filming, however, the money problems really began to
sink in, and we were both secretly nervous that this whole two week shoot might
be an exercise in futility. Really — if the OFDC wouldn’t give us the cash we
needed, then who would? We didn’t have enough to cut the film, and barely
enough money to even get the film processed to work-print, so that we could
show it off to potential investors.

But we kept shooting, and focusing on the minute by minute challenges on the set
at least kept our minds off of our more looming financial problems. And then a
little after lunch (“catered” by Bruce’s mom), we heard the phone ring, and Mrs.
McDonald stepped out onto the porch, waited ’til the scene we were shooting was
stopped, and told Bruce and I that we had a phone call. We told the crew to take a
break, we laughed nervously, and I got on the line. Louise Clarke must have
taken some lessons in torture from perusing Amnesty International leaflets,
because she drew the “yes” or “no” out for a good few minutes. She told us that a
lot of people had problems with the script. She told us that some people didn’t
think we could pull it off. She told us it was a real fight during the final financial
meeting the OFDC had — and then she told us we’d been approved. Very relieved,
we broke up laughing, told the crew, and went back to work. After wrap that
night we took the crew to a roadside diner close-by and bought everyone a couple
of beers to celebrate.

Louise later told us that a last minute phone call of endorsement from none other
than Norman Jewison (Bruce struck up a friendship with Norman while working
as his driver on AGNES OF GOD) helped convince the OFDC that we had what it
took to make a feature film.

And years later we learned that one of the big reasons they decided to take a
chance on us was because we were asking for such a relatively little amount of
money. I mean to us it was a fortune, but to them it equaled development funding
for two or three films.

We now had enough money to not only get the film shot, but to edit it and make a
print as well. And give the crew the occasional lunch.

Being fully aware that marketing and promotion was close to half the job of
making a feature film successful, we set our sites on getting a star to make a
cameo. Our prime choice was the late lead singer of the Ramones, Joey Ramone.
I wrote letter after letter to his management, and finally Joey agreed to be in our
film. We offered him five hundred bucks, and first-class flights and hotel
accommodation. It turned out it that was the first time a Ramone had ever flown
first class, and when we asked him what the difference was, he said that the big
deal was that in first class you got a newspaper and little mints. He had a really
good time shooting his scene, and before he left he asked us if we wanted a
Ramones tune for the movie. We took him up on the offer, and in fact, the
Ramones are the only non-Canadian band that appears on the soundtrack. Since
they were the prime princes of punk rock, they deserved to be the exception to
the rule.

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ll realize that Joey’s appearance is a sort of punchline
and payoff for the Buddy the Cabbie character. Buddy was played by my
friend Larry Hudson — and he really is Buddy the Cabbie — and “Joanie Ramone”
was played by my “life partner” and best friend Joanie Noordover, mother of
Casey and Tim Sebert, who played two little kids who harass Buddy in the film.
(She’s also the mother of my son, Ollie, who didn’t have anything to do with any
of my films, but I know one day he’ll read this, so – “Hi, Ollie!”).
Joey Ramone was a brave guy and a class act. He didn’t know Bruce or me,
although I had met him a couple of times in the past during my punk rock days at
the Horseshoe Tavern and The New Yorker, so he really took a chance being in
this low-budget, by-the-seat-of-your-pants film, by a couple of guys with hardly
any track record.

L-R, Joey Ramone, Colin Brunton

One of the really unusual things we had to do on ROADKILL was wrangle genuine
roadkill for various scenes. It was a visual motif and metaphor in the story. One
strong memory I have is of me and The Weenie Boy (the lead character) at six
o’clock in the morning, both dressed all in black, him with his head shaved bald,
stopping on Highway 27 and scraping a fresh-killed raccoon (or something) off
the highway. God only knows what other drivers commuting to less gruesome
jobs who saw us thought, and he ain’t telling.

L-R, fuzzy Joey Ramone and ecstatic fuzzy Joanie Noordover.

For one scene we used an especially ripe Muskrat (or something), and it really
stunk bad. The crew had cigarettes stuffed up their nostrils to stifle the smell.
We got all of our shots for the scene, and as soon as was possible, I got the Art
Director to heave it in a ditch. He did, and then we realized that we still needed
another cutaway of it, and poor Geoff Murrin had to get it out of the ditch and
bring it back on the road, skillfully moving it by using a couple of dead branches
he found nearby. By this time it was falling apart — unidentifiable chunks were
actually falling off — and the guts were leaking and dripping and oozing out.
After completing the scene, we all headed off for lunch. Some of us had appetites.
We all worked our butts off on the film. We had a nine-person crew, and shot the
film in 13 days straight. The days would average 16 to 20 hours, and all of us
experienced incredibly vivid hallucinations at the end of the days, with very little
pharmaceutical assistance or help from recreational drugs.

The dedication of the crew was amazing and inspiring: When Bruce and I
actually figured out through much difficulty how to give the crew a day off in the
middle of the shoot, they would have nothing of it, claimed it would throw off
their rhythm, and steadfastly continued the dangerous and exhausting pace we
were on.

Although we were pretty organized, it was not only not a good way to make a
film, it was an irresponsible, reckless and crazy way to make a film. But it
seemed like it was the only way to make a film called Roadkill. To paraphrase
Hunter S. Thompson, “I would never recommend drugs and violence and insanity
to anyone…but its always worked for me!” What can I say? It was the most fun
I’ve ever had making a film, and I think its the best film I’ve ever made, but let’s
face it: we’re very lucky no one got killed or injured during the production.
Only two so-called disasters occurred during the filming: the Art Director backed
a van right over our take-out lunch one day, but it was funnier than it was sad,
but still a drag ’cause even though we only ate the worst junk food money could
buy, it did keep us going. The other disaster was looking for the “big fish”
monument in Sturgeon Falls. We needed this shot, ’cause we had a scene written
around it, so we took a big trek up to Northern Ontario to get it, some shots of the
Big Nickel, and various road scenes.

Crashing in our vehicles and a couple of cheesy motel rooms after semi-legally
shooting scenes at the Big Nickel, we got up bright and early and headed off to
Sturgeon Falls for the big scene with the fish monument. It was a good hour and
a half drive, and while that may not seem too far, considering that we shot the
film in 13 days, were going crazy and all, it was a grueling excursion. So we get
to Sturgeon Falls, and start asking around for the fish monument, and everyone
seemed to have a different take on just where the elusive bugger was. “Oh, I tink
dat’s over near da park, eh”. “The big fish? Just up past the Tim Horton’s I
think”. Our ragtag parade of a half-dozen vehicles, fronted by a RV covered in
cammo netting and barbed wire, cruised all over the place but just couldn’t find
the goddamn fish, and soon realized that…there was no goddamn fish. It was in
another city another few hours north. We spent a good hour or so blaming each
other, but then got our dwindling spirits back by convincing our driver captain,
Evan Siegel that it was somehow appropriate that he buy us all lunch on his VISA
card.

We were noticed in Sturgeon Falls. We stuck out like sore losers. Almost all of us
were dressed entirely in black, save for Herwig who wore, as I recall, a lovely skyblue
satin gown with matching purse. Walking as a pack through the town
centre, looking for a place to eat, people would actually stop and stare at us.
Wandering by a handful of native teenagers leaning against a building, one yelled
out “Hey — where are you guys from?!”, and without missing a beat, Don McKellar
yelled back over his shoulder, “Hell”. A brief pause, then one of them called back
“Can I come?”

The drive back from Sudbury was deadly. We were well into the second week of
the show, and we were exhausted. My hallucinations were a vivid and nightly
occurrence, but I’d tamed them somewhat by at least being able to recognize that
they were hallucinations. Lidded eyes almost closing, I recall seeing a beautiful,
ivy-covered bridge crossing Highway 11. It looked like something out of the
nineteenth century. Knowing full well that no bridge like that existed on
Highway 11, I stopped at the next gas station, threw cold water on my face, got
another cup of coffee, and hoped that I could make it back to Toronto in one piece.
We shot the film in May, had it edited throughout the summer, and finished it in
time for The Festival of Festivals in September, where much to our surprise it
was selected to open the Perspective Canada series.

The festival screening of Roadkill was at the Uptown Theatre at Yonge and Bloor
in Toronto. Wanting to make our entrance at the Festival as classy as possible,
we stuffed most of the crew and some of the cast into the production’s motor
home, fully decked-out in all its Roadkill glory: camouflage netting and barbed
wire covered the vehicle; our motto – MOVE OR DIE (in mirror image) spraypainted
on the front. Bruce and I dug deep and found $700 to hire an armored
car complete with gun-toting guard to deliver the dripping wet print to the
theatre. As the Wells Fargo truck waited outside the theatre for the ugliest
Winnibago on earth to show up, it spewed tons of toxic diesel fuel towards the
lineup of cinephiles waiting for our film to premiere. As the crowd cursed
whatever idiots (Hi there!) had arranged this poisonous truck to park in front of
them, we pulled up, the guard met us outside, and up we marched to the
projection room to deliver the print, and then all slithered down to our seats to
nervously await the audience’s verdict.

The screening seemed to go really well, and all of us decided to forego the typical
post-Festival screening at some overpriced cocktail lounge in Yorkville for the
much funkier atmosphere of the Morrisey Tavern, where amongst drunk
university jocks and various locals, we drank ’til dawn (well, one in the morning,
actually), and had a great time trading our war stories of shooting low-budget
films, and the success (when you actually complete your first feature, consider it
a success) of Roadkill. As me and Joanie and Casey and Tim were weaving our
way out, we ran into local musician Nash the Slash, who not only did the score,
but appeared in the film as well. And here he was in his “dress-whites” (Nash’s
stage outfit is a grunged version of The Mummy, with bandages covering him
from head to foot), and he wasn’t just pissed like most of us, Nash was pissed-off.
Our trusty Art Directors had apparently lost Nash’s “civilian clothes” somewhere,
and Nash spent most of the night trying to track down Geoff and Jim, ready to
kill. Geoff and Jim spent most of the night hiding from Nash the Slash. What
made it even more dire was that since Nash didn’t have his civvies, he didn’t have
any pockets either, and so he didn’t have his wallet, and so he didn’t have any
money, and before you know it – Presto! Chango! – everyone has split for the
night, and Nash is left alone, a sad and bitter man dressed up like The Mummy at
2:30 in the morning on the biggest intersection of the longest street in the world
surrounded by drunks and Festival goers and general 2:30-in-the-morning-riffraff.
And all the beaten and frustrated musician can do is stick his thumb out
and try and make it home. And, as so many things on the production were
blessed, so was Nash’s fate that night, for no sooner had he stuck his thumb out
and started hitchhiking, than a true blue (and incredulous) Nash the Slash fan
spotted him, pulled across a couple of lanes of traffic, and drove him straight to
his door.

When the festival ended a week later, we were voted Most Outstanding Canadian
Film at the Festival, beating out, among others, JESUS OF MONTREAL, and won
$25,000 cash. When asked by the moderator what he would do with all of his
prize money, Bruce didn’t miss a beat, and shocked the assembled bigwigs, suits,
and corporate sponsors by announcing that we would use the money to buy a big
chunk of hash. It was the best press anyone could hope for. And pretty decent
hash.

For promotion, we worked closely with our distributor CINEPHILE, and had lots
of fun scheming up the campaign. Not wanting to pretend our film was anything
other that what it was — a black and white, low-budget, Canadian film — our
trailer used those very words. As the trailer began, over a black background, the
title “It’s Black and White…” would zoom to the foreground, followed by “It’s lowbudget”,
and then finally, “And it’s Canadian”, and then some of the tunes would
kick in. It got a great response from audiences. We were also keen to put out a
soundtrack album, because we had some great music in the movie, totally all-
Canadian save for the Ramones track, and including a couple of obscure gems
from the past, like THE UGLY DUCKLINGS and THE PAUPERS, back from the
days when there was a thing called “The Toronto Sound”.

We hooked up with Denon Records, and made CD’s and cassettes. We mixed in
samples of the dialogue, and all in all, it came out pretty entertaining. We had a
very sneaky way of making sales and spreading word-of-mouth: each week, the
world-famous SAM THE RECORD MAN, Toronto’s premiere CD and record store,
would issue their own in-house magazine that listed the Top Ten best-selling
tapes and CD’s. And we had a friend who worked there — a mole, as it were. So
every week, on the night before inventory was done — and when they’d figure out
what was selling the most — he would covertly remove almost all of the
ROADKILL CD’s and cassettes, and then when they’d do the inventory the next
morning, would be amazed at just how well this little independent soundtrack
was doing. We were in the Top Ten for at least three weeks, before the Little
Angels on our shoulders finally convinced the much more prominent (and way
more fun) Little Devils on our shoulders that what we were doing just wasn’t
right. And although that was all pretty funny, the scam more or less caught up
with us. Karma indeed, but this time of the bad variety.

Every three months we’d get reports from Denon on how sales were doing, and
they were doing pretty good. We got some nice pay cheques. But because we
never made the soundtrack to make money, and would only get a profit if it did
really well, all the revenue would be split between the bands who participated.
We got the reports every three months, but we only had to give the bands the
cash every twelve months, so it helped with our office cash flow. If we knew for
sure that we had some cash coming in from someplace else, we felt confident in
using some of the soundtrack revenue to temporarily tide us over. And it was
fine and dandy until we actually had to pay the bands. We totaled up how much
money we had to pay out to the bands, and we kept coming up short. It was
puzzling. We had replaced any money that we’d borrowed, and I was careful in
my accounting, but things literally didn’t add up. We didn’t have enough money
in the soundtrack revenue account to pay the bands. We looked things over left,
right and centre, and then finally started pouring through the contracts. This is
no excuse, but another example of the old adage that if you want something
done right, do it yourself, because we discovered to our horror that we had
promised the bands a total of 118% of the take, rather than the much more sane
100%.

The percentages of the gross revenue added up wrong, and the person we’d
trusted to do the music paperwork for us had simply added everything up wrong.
And what this meant was that basically for every soundtrack CD we sold, me and
Bruce personally lost fifty cents, and for every cassette we sold we lost a quarter.
It was like the film THE PRODUCERS, and we found ourselves praying that there
would be no more sales, or we’d be very broke very fast. Not having any idea
how to remedy this, we finally called in the cavalry, and Joey Ramone came to
the rescue. He convinced both his “brothers”, his lawyers, his manager, his
publishing company and the record company to cut us some slack, and reduce
The Ramones’ percentage so that the accounting would work. It was a big pile of
paperwork, dotting many “i’s” and crossing lots of “T’s”. In the end, the Ramones’
share of the soundtrack was probably worth less than anybody else’s.

On hearing that we had funding for HIGHWAY 61, local film critic John Harkness
of NOW magazine said after seeing (and hating) ROADKILL, that “giving these
guys a million dollars to make a film is like giving a loaded pistol to a six-yearold”.
Mr. Harkness may have been right, but we set our sights on a big feature, and
found our aim was true.

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