Take Aim: Amy Sciarretto vs. "Talihina Sky' Director Stephen C. Mitchell
Fri, 18 Nov 2011 08:50:02
ARTISTdirect.com News Editor Amy Sciarretto and Stephen C. Mitchell, the director of Talihina Sky, AKA the Kings of Leon documentary, engaged in a verbal tete a tete about the film. Mitchell, who magically captured the essence of the band and its genesis in the doc, graciously submitted to the Take Aim interrogation.
What is your favorite scene from the film and why?
I'm tempted to say Caleb praying for his now-wife Lily to have a safe flight home -- or maybe Uncle Bud's pet deer emerging from the woods at the end of the film. Both of these moments provide surreal insight into the mindset of this band and the world of their family. But it's hard to top the impact of the first scene editor Paul Greenhouse ever cut for us. The film's production team still refers to it as "Holy Ghost Trani."
The concept is grounded in an interview I did with BettyAnn, mother to three of the boys, reflecting back on her young sons being filled with the Spirit and speaking in tongues. Paul then mashed-up Pentecostal worship footage we pulled from classic films like Marjoe against the Kings' epic performance of "Trani" at Bonnaroo in '04. The result was like throwing gasoline on fire. There was no doubt we had done something special.
But I'll admit I wondered if this scene might be potentially blasphemous to some or if the resistance I felt meant we'd stumbled upon the truth. It made the band pretty uncomfortable at first when we showed it to them. But there was no denying this juxtaposition and the scene had power. So we never messed with it again. People around the world have told me that it unnerved them and was on their mind for days afterwards.
What is the one thing you learned that you didn't know before (about the band or in general) upon completion of this project?
I literally learned how to make a film while we were making this film. Not too many people get that shot in life, especially with a subject matter of this magnitude. So to the band, the Executive Producers, I'm very grateful. And it feels good that they believed in me enough to take a chance. But the band has high quality standards, so good enough wasn't going to be good enough from a first-time filmmaker. I knew I'd have to dig deep to deliver the goods.
Brad Oldham who works at the band's management company reviewed some of my footage a few years back and really liked what he saw. And he knew I had a good story to tell from my friendship with the band's family. Brad suggested we meet with Casey McGrath at Phear Creative to see if they could help us reach our creative goals. This partnership turned out to be the key to the equation. So I think that we all learned it takes an army of talented and focused people to bring a great story across the finish line.
What else do you have coming down the pike in 2012?
I'm looking forward to directing and/or producing a few more documentary film projects next year that are currently in development. The one I'm really excited to start covers college football, a serious passion of mine.
Finish this sentence: You should watch Talihina Sky because:
…you have to meet Uncle Cleo.
Favorite music doc of all time and why?
Don't Look Back which documents the era when Bob Dylan was shifting from acoustic to electric guitar is unbelievable. It's hard to believe this moment in rock history was captured so vividly behind closed doors. That film is mesmerizing. I watched this film with Caleb one day. He loved it too. We both knew we'd have to aim for something special like this film.
Talihina Sky: The Story of Kings of Leon is now available on DVD, as well as Blu-ray disc.
Did you check out Talihinia Sky yet?