One of the first things that Andrew Iden points out to me during our phone conversation is the amount of time that has passed since the cult Athens music documentary Athens, GA: Inside Out.
“It’s been something like 25 years!” he says. “SO much has happened since then, all sorts of things have changed.”
No kidding. How about the massive worldwide takeover by R.E.M., the rise of the Elephant Six and their many groups, pretty much all of Widespread Panic, the retirement (and subsequent unretirement) of bands like Pylon, the emerging singer-songwriters like the late Vic Chesnutt… Yeah. A lot has happened. So, what to do? Grab a camera and start filming, of course!
Iden and his crew from Atlanta originally planned a documentary on the Elephant Six group. But they quickly found out that the E6 and the rest of Athens could not be easily separated.
“The more we got into and researched the more we realized it branches out and goes forever and ever and all these roads lead back to Athens,” says Iden.
With that in mind, Outside Films changed direction to make the film more about Athens music as a whole rather than just focusing on a single subsection. But the scene is so large and complex, how in the world can anyone expect to include all these musicians? Simple answer: you can’t. Instead, focus on some of the movers and shakers in town and work your way out from there.
“It’s kinda our focus to use people that are more behind the scenes as spokes on the wheel so to speak. People like Sloan Simpson, Velena Vego, Gordon Lamb, they’re kinda gonna be the meat and potatoes of the film and tell the story of Athens. It would be kinda cliche if we just got a bunch of musicians talking about how much they love Athens.”
They have been talking to a few musicians though, and have what is possibly the last video interview that Vic Chesnutt did. All of the interviews and research are pointed at one of the most asked and least answered questions about Athens: What is it about the town that people want to form bands and still stay here?
Iden hopes to wrap up by the end of the summer and possibly get it ready for festivals and whatnot in the fall. The project remains unnamed (officially called the Athens Music Project for now) but the group claims that they’ll know the title when they hear it. Andrew has sworn to keep us updated as things get rolling so stay tuned for more updates about this potentially killer Athens flick.
NOTE: This is a separate project from the “Athens Burning” film that is screening at Cine tomorrow at 9:30 p.m. That one is a documentary about the GA Theatre.