New Rock 'n' Roll Road Trip Documentary an Ode to Self-Empowerment28 Oct, 2016
An award-winning documentary on a small-town girl from Pennsylvania who sets out on a cross-country road trip to fulfill her dreams of rock ‘n’ roll stardom on Hollywood’s famed Sunset Strip, will soon be available for home viewing. The film also features never before seen interviews with Rikki Rockett (Poison) and Steven Adler (Guns N’ Roses).
My Way, a spirited chronicling of Rebekah Starr’s wild ride across the United States with vivacious bandmate Annika, an Estonian tambourine player, will be released on DVD Nov. 4. The film, which captures both the hopes of imminent stardom and the hardships of reality — including the on-the-road breakup of Rebekah’s marriage, all captured in real time — is available at all major wholesalers including Ingram, Baker & Taylor and AEC. It also is available for consumers to order directly from Amazon.
My Way opened theatrically in New York and Los Angeles and has been a darling of the film festival circuit, having picked up key honors including being nominated for Best Film Score at the Other Venice Film Festival, a film and music festival that is held in Venice Beach, Calif. That honor struck close to home, Starr said in an exclusive interview with Home Media Magazine, because the film uses much of her own music. “As a musician, it was neat to get it out there,” she said.
My Way also won Best Feature Documentary at the American Independent Film Festival, Best Feature Documentary at the Trail Dance Festival, Best Feature Documentary at the Independent Film Quarterly Film Festival, the Jury Award at Tenerife International Film Festival, and a special Audience Award at the FreeStyle Life Film Festival. “It was great to get the film on the festival circuit, since this is the first time any of us has ever done anything like this,” she said. “We had no PR or anything, and the awards and many other nominations were all based on merit, which is really special, because it means people like this film. I was also excited that it was shown at international film festivals, translated into Italian and Spanish.”
My Way isn’t just Starr’s first film, but also the debut feature from directorial duo Vinny Sisson and Dominique Mollee, whose prior work had been short films. Starr and her Estonian sidekick chronicled their road trip on a handycam, but it wasn’t until they got to L.A. that they realized the time had now come to do something with it.
Through a friend, they met up with Sisson and Mollee. Sisson recalls: “We looked through the footage, through hundreds of hours of footage, and we saw a story there — a compelling story best told by Rebekah. We found more truth in doing that than by writing a script and dramatizing further — there was already enough inner and outer conflict in the footage they had shot.”
To add flavor to Rebekah’s journey, the directors recruited Rikki Rockett of Poison and Steve Adler of Guns N’ Roses to bring to the film their own perspectives on the pursuit of fame and fortune in the music business. Like Rebekah Starr, Poison was a product of blue-collar Pennsylvania, and Rockett deftly sums up Starr’s drive when he says of his own band’s journey, “Our only other option was to stay in town and keep playing covers until we got old.”
In Starr’s case, the option was to work in the family business — a mining services company in her home town of Kittanning, Pennsylvania, 40 miles northeast of Pittsburgh — or continue on a career path in New York, where she briefly worked for mega-insurer AIG.
“As a musician, you’re always torn,” she said. “Every single musician who hasn’t made it big is grappling with the same decisions we as a band were struggling to face. I was always thinking about staying in financial services with a steady income, but the music won out — the music is magical; it speaks to you, and you just can’t ignore it.”
The film took 18 months to prepare, and there have been more “tweaks” since then, director Sisson said. The end result is a cross between Thelma and Louise and a high-energy rock concert, with Starr ultimately achieving her dream of forming a rock band and playing the Sunset Strip.
The dream did not come easy: Starr faced a volley of obstacles, including estrangement from family members who disapproved of her flight to L.A., the disintegration of her marriage, and the day-to-day hassles of life on the road, where Starr and Annika played clubs along the way, selling CDs and partying heavily.
Nor has the dream been completely fulfilled, as Starr and her band have yet to become a household name, or score their first hit.
But that’s partially the point of this film: If you don’t strive for your dreams, they’re not going to happen. But if you do, you’ll have done things “My Way.”
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