Sacha Gervasi Hammers Out Anvil on DVD27 Jul, 2009 By: Billy Gil
Sacha Gervasi, screenwriter of such films as The Terminal, made his directorial debut by rediscovering his old metal idols in Anvil! The Story of Anvil, coming to DVD ($24.98) Oct. 6 (prebook Sept. 1) from MVD Visual and VH1.
Gervasi toured with Anvil as a youth in Canada during the 1980s, getting to hang out with his favorite band, formed in 1973 by Steve “Lips” Kudlow and Robb Reiner. Now in their 50s, the band continues to record and tour.
Anvil’s journey and struggles are documented in the film, which has spurred renewed interest in the decades-old band. Gervasi spoke to us about how the film has affected the band and their following:
HM: What prompted you to rediscover Anvil?
Gervasi: I was listening to Metallica, and I was just listening to this record and I thought, ‘Wow, this sounds just like Anvil.’ Whatever happened to Anvil?
I went on the Internet and discovered they were still producing records. I just thought it was amazing. I got in touch with them and me and Lips hooked up. The best part about it was it was just like I had seen them the day before even though it had been 20 years.
HM: Did you know you wanted to make a film about Anvil or was it just curiosity?
Gervasi: I just wanted to hang out with my old friends, and after I spent a weekend in L.A., it was obvious there was a movie there.
HM: What kinds of feelings did it stir up for you to be with the band again?
Gervasi: It was a tremendous gift they gave me, which was to be 15 again. I was able to relive my youth. Rob and Lips were dressed like they were 20 years ago.
HM: What’s on the DVD?
Gervasi: There are some really great things where you see Lips working at his catering company, speaking to his coworkers. He’s this influential heavy metal rocker delivering lunches to preschoolers.
There’s also an interview with Lars Ulrich (of Metallica). It’s 30 minutes. He tells the whole story, which is really quite incredible.
HM: Has the film at all affected album sales and show attendance for the band?
Gervasi: It definitely has. We’re coming up at giant stadiums. They’re opening for AC/DC in front of 50,000 people in two weeks. In a nine-day span, they’re going to play to 150,000 people, which is more than they’ve played in 20 years combined. So the film has had a pretty amazing affect on the band. Plus they’ve started to sell CDs.
HM: I found a lot I could relate to in Anvil, as a struggling musician, even though they are very, very different situations. How do you think others can relate to the film, even those who’ve not been in bands?
Gervasi: I think that it’s anyone with a dream [who can relate to the film]. Obviously you could connect as a musician, but I think anyone who dreams of doing anything [can relate], even if it’s slightly out of reach, yearning for something they can’t quite get. It’s not just playing to musicians who haven’t had success yet. I was talking to Chris Martin of Coldplay, and he’s seen it five times. I spoke with Billie Joe of Green Day, they dedicated their encore to Anvil. Everyone knows the pain of wanting something and not being able to get it. It’s odd, right? I think anyone can relate. We’ve had people who — clothes designers, travel agents — [love the film], and I think that’s the story. Anyone who aspires to something artistic. It’s the story of not giving up.
HM: I was left at the end of this film wondering, what’s next for Anvil? Are you working with them again?
Gervasi: They’re going to make a record. We’re doing tons of stuff with them, it’s pretty wild. They’re focusing on their new album and touring [and we’re filming it]. ... I think it’s going to go into a series.
HM: What is being done peripherally with the film, such as on the Web and marketing-wise?
Gervasi: There’s going to be a Guitar Center contest. I think you can win a chance to jam with Anvil. There are a few things in the works.
We’re going on a 40-day tour in October to November with the band and the film, playing in big theaters. We’re filming it and hopefully it turns into series, etc., etc. It’s endless, man. Random House bought the book, and that comes out in October. And they’ve also got three songs [slated to be released] on Rock Band.
HM: Are you surprised by just how positive the reaction to this film has been?
Gervasi: Yeah, Of course. It’s pretty great. You just never know what’s going to happen, especially with a documentary. To have it embraced in the way that it’s been … it’s been a delightful surprise. You just don’t know when you’re making a movie if it’s going to be any good or if people will like it. It’s an unexpected gift.
HM: What do you hope people get out of this film, aside from thinking twice about starting a band and touring Europe?
Gervasi: I tink if Anvil is not a cautionary tale, I don’t know what is. I think there are a lot of bands who have drawn inspiration from this film because it’s a movie about doing it for its own sake. I think it says in the movie ‘success is in not giving up,’ you know what I mean?
See the trailer here.