On Friday, April 22nd, the St. Petersburg College Innovation Lab and the Music Industry and Recording Arts program brought music documentary The Wrecking Crew along with producer/director Denny Tedesco to the Muvico Sundial 19 in downtown St. Petersburg, and an after party at the Palladium with donations supporting MIRA’s scholarship fund.
The screening played to a packed house and raised more than 1,000 dollars for the MIRA scholarship fund. The after party at the Palladium featured music from the film and a question, a cash bar, delicious snacks and a question and answer session with Denny Tedesco. Read my interview with Denny Tedesco in the SPC iLab Resource Bundle.
The award winning film documents the lives of the session musicians behind the biggest hits of the fifties and sixties for bands like the Beach Boys, the Mamas and the Papas, and Sonny and Cher. The film followed Denny Tedesco’s father, Tommy Tedesco, along with Carol Kaye, Plas Johnson, and many more. It brought to life the early days of rock music, these session players would record three to four songs per day, and one of them would be rushed out to the radio stations on the same day. Their work spanned the music industry’s move from New York to the west coast, and helped build rock ‘n roll as an American genre. The film also features interviews with Dick Clark, Brian Wilson, Frank Zappa, and Glenn Campbell. The movie is also a love letter to Denny Tedesco’s father, filming began when Tommy Tedesco was diagnosed with terminal cancer in 1995.
Denny Tedesco brought the film to festivals in 2008 where it won more than a dozen awards, and was nominated for the International Documentary Association music documentary award. It is the end product of more than a decade of interviews with some of the most important people in music. As Tedesco mentioned during the question and answer at the after party, the first cut of the film was over two hours long which was eventually worked down to 100 minutes. The extra footage will be featured on DVD which will release on June 16th, and Tedesco is also releasing a coffee table book based on the film. According to Tedesco the biggest obstacle to a theatrical release was securing the rights to the music.
He told the audience at the after party that this was a film that was made possible by the Internet, and that if it had been made ten years earlier it would never have released. Documentaries, and music documentaries in particular were not seen as a commercially viable product. The Internet’s long tail and online video on demand services have spurred a revival of the genre. It also allowed Tedesco to connect with people who cared about the story. He started raising funds by allowing fans to dedicate songs, and then moved to Kickstarter. The Wrecking Crew was a unique Kickstarter project because the movie was already complete, and just required funds for the rights to the music. The film raised 313,157 dollars, more than 60 thousand above its quarter million dollar goal. The money allowed him to pay the musicians that made the music, one bill that Tedesco said he was happy to pay.