The red carpet premiere of Peter Bogdanovich\'s Runnin\' Down A Dream took place last Tuesday October 2 at the Steven J. Ross Theater on the Warner Brothers Pictures lot in Burbank, CA.
Two wonderful fans who attended the event were kind enough to share their reflections on the evening. We would like to thank Stephen Lubman and Melanie Strickland for going above and beyond by writing such complete and extensive pieces. We have posted them below for your enjoyment. Please note these reviews may reveal possible spoilers from the film.
Tom Petty Home Movies - Bogdanovich Style
One Fan's Perspective on 'Runnin' Down a Dream' and the Premiere Experience
by Stephen Lubman
"What do you expect? He's just a Fan!" - Spoken by the Rolling Stone headquarters fact checker in Cameron Crowe's film 'Almost Famous'.
Early feedback suggested that my observations could be criticized as too 'gushing'.
"But what if 'Runnin' Down A Dream' is really that good?" was my only reply.
Whether hard core fan of first timer, every individual lucky enough to experience this amazing story will draw their own conclusions about what Peter Bogdanovich's documentary means to them.
But I stand behind every word.
And so, for your consideration I present my perspective - straight from the heart.
On Tuesday, October 2nd the premiere of the Peter Bogdanovich movie "Runnin' Down A Dream" took place at the Warner Brothers Pictures lot in Burbank, California. What follows is one fan's perspective on the documentary, the premiere, and what it felt like to be in the presence of greatness.
From the onset we knew this would be an amazing evening. Our small tompetty.com entourage included Melanie, Athena and me. Thrilled to have secured press passes to cover the premiere for Tom Petty's web site, each of us feels deeply honored and amazingly lucky to have been present and we wish that every fan could have had that chance.
We came equipped with note pads, cameras, and above all, anticipation. Upon our arrival at the Steven J. Ross Theater we checked in, deployed along the Red Carpet outside and waited - adorned with self adhesive press passes and huge grins.
When the dignitaries began to arrive the press photographers were snapping photos wildly. Camera flashes were flashing, and members of the press were calling out 'could you please turn to your right' or 'how about standing near the movie poster'. But my favorite was 'how about some air guitar?'
At times it looked and felt like a game of 'Twister' in the press area, with photographers wrapping around each other to get 'the shot'. The dignitaries seemed to all be in quite a festive mood and it wasn't really surprising. Everyone there was assembled to celebrate the long and distinguished history of one of America's finest Rock and Roll bands - Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers.
Peter Bogdanovich spoke before the screening began, and said that he didn't really know much about Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers' music before he set upon the two year odyssey that resulted in this amazing documentary. He said he was intrigued with what he saw as a "Truly American story." Peter's journey of discovery led him straight to the heart of Dreamville - The smile on his face said it all. And in what is surely a blessing to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fans around the world, Peter took along with him his cameras and his legendary storytelling skills and now we have all been gifted with his discoveries.
What do you get when you combine the finest rock and roll musicians, film makers, and a vast archive of still photos, film, and audio and video recordings new and old? For one, you have an incredible editing job to do. The collection included over 500 of hours of footage, countless hours of audio recordings, thousands of still photos.
These are unbelievable moments, captured on all kinds of media ranging from home movies and televised performances to snapshots, studio recording sessions, interviews and more. Choosing the best of the best must have been akin to picking which child you love the most - it just doesn't compute.
Editing this massive collection down to a manageable finished product would have been an insurmountable task for a lesser individual. If we hadn't been told of the magnitude of the effort, we would have never suspected it were so based upon the quality of the finished documentary because what emerged from the creative process is four hours of pure brilliance.
Anything That's Rock And Roll
The Rock and Roll amphitheater is a cavernous space. Before the show begins it is a beehive of activity. Packed to the gills with giddy fans, the air is thick with energy and anticipation. It is a portal between the everyday world, and the world of discovery and imagination - a liminal space.
With a montage of incredible panning shots and fades portraying the darkened arena illuminated by thousands of lighters, cell phones and glow sticks held aloft by fans, and complimented with stunning surround soundtrack projecting the eerie echoing of cheers radiating and reflecting around the amphitheater, Bogdanovich perfectly conveys the otherworldly feeling experienced by the audience before the band takes the stage and the first note is played - without a single line of dialog.
This is an incredible example of film making, and it represents only one gleeming facet of this gem.
You're Gonna Get It!
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers fans will be amazed at the width and depth of this documentary. Each milestone in the band's history is carefully explored. From The Epics, to Mudcrutch to Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and all points in between, we are treated to the glorious story of the artist's drive and stubborn determination, their collaboration, their tragedy and triumph.
And its all true.
Honest and comprehensive, 'Running Down A Dream' explores the amazing evolutionary journey of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers with a level of fidelity that has never before been presented.
At various times the audience cheered and laughed. They also wept. And together we celebrated the miracle of Rock and Roll - a truly American art form that deserves the accolades heaped upon it and represents a cornerstone of our collective identity, deeply embedded in our sub consciousness.
Into The Great Wide Open
Through the eyes of the film maker, we see a band of brothers in music and a family in the truest sense of the word. These artists could have never known exactly where they would arrive once they embarked upon their journey from Gainesville. It was a journey so filled with risks (and so unbelievable were it not true) that as various situations were revealed on the screen the audience roared with laughter at the sheer improbability, or sat dumbfounded when the razor thin lines dividing success from failure and triumph from tragedy were revealed.
We were deeply moved by the chapters that focused upon Howie\'s contributions to the band and his tragic loss. The documentary presented his amazing voice as I have never heard it before.
I Won't Back Down
From the shocking story of the arson caused fire at Tom\'s Malibu home with \'It will all work out\' playing softly in the background, to the David and Goliath tale of Tom's numerous battles to maintain high standards and integrity in the face of a world spinning towards mediocrity, the documentary reinforced the view of Tom Petty as the archetypal American Hero. It is a timely example of what it should mean to be an American and reside in the \'Home of the Brave\'.
Throughout there is a strong sub-theme associated with all of the band member's evolution over the course of their collaboration together. The artists have played an important role in a number of positive changes we have seen in Rock and Roll over the years, and although this fact may not be trumpeted blatantly in the film, the sense of conflict, adaptation and change is compellingly conveyed.
Many fans will be amazed at the candor and honesty of individuals interviewed in the film. For those of us who are not \'flies on the wall\' of the recording studio, this may be the best chance we ever get to study elements of the dynamic between artists in the throes of the creative process.
The outpouring of admiration for these artists was evident in every aspect of the premiere and reflected the passion that the artists themselves have for music. For music can penetrate straight to the soul and affect us in beautiful and mysterious ways and therefore it is completely fitting those who have wielded musical magic so proficiently should be celebrated and loved.
They have cast a spell upon our hearts and delivered us to places unimaginable.
Through the documentary, every fan has now been gifted with the opportunity to peer through an amazing view port into the heart of this wonderful band. Together with the companion volume edited by Warren Zanes, they form a vast compendium of personal experiences, moments captured in time and heartfelt words written and spoken by those who truly know.
Four hours after we saw the first moments of the film, and after a huge round of applause and celebration, we exited the Steven J. Ross Theater and I glanced upward and saw a brilliant half moon floating across the starry sky.
A symbol of life and rebirth and serving as a reminder that only change is a constant, it seemingly reflected the incredible perseverance and adaptation exhibited by the band members over the course of their careers to date.
While the joyous sounds of music still echoed in my mind and we stood together speechless, I wondered what amazing works are yet to come from the collaboration we know as Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. And they are sure to come.
For my part, I hope that Peter Bogdanovich is taking excellent care of himself because based upon the overwhelming success of this documentary I expect that he may very well be called upon a few decades hence to craft and present the next installment of this amazing story.
Some Days Are Diamonds
Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers World Premiere Of Runnin\' Down A Dream
Entering The Mystery Of The Dream
Losers do occasionally get lucky. Such was the case for three Tom Petty And The Heartbreaker fans when we were invited to attend the world premiere of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers and director Peter Bogdanovich\'s music epic Runnin\' Down A Dream on October 2, 2007 at the Steven J. Ross Theatre on the site of Warner Bros. Studio in Burbank, California. Our mission was to review the film for the band\'s website, to report back to the fanbase our take on the documentary. Upon arriving at the theatre deep in the heart of Warner Bros. Studio movie lots, we were escorted to three empty seats positioned in a reserved section partitioned off in the last three rows of the front central area of the theatre. We scooted into our seats and realized that they were excellent. In addition, on each chair had been placed a copy of the coffee table companion book to the film, both entitled Runnin\' Down A Dream. It occurred to me that since we hadn\'t been given programs the books were to suffice as complimentary components to the film version of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers 30 year mysterious history.
Peter Bogdanovich came out onto the stage in front of the movie screen and explained to the audience that he had the arduous task of sorting through 400 hours of video footage collected by the band over their 30 year life span and he himself had filmed 100 hours of live footage on tour last year and in interviews with friends and coworkers specifically done for the documentary. Originally they had managed to cut the film footage down to 5 hours and came to the conclusion it would be difficult for any audience to sit through something so long. It was finally shortened to the core time length of just under 4 hours to be cut almost in half by an intermission.
After his introductory statements the house lights went down and the screen opened to darkness illuminated by thousands of cell phone lights within a live concert venue, beginning the film with the end of a show, and by doing so creating a direct connection between where the last tour ended and the release of the film takes off. The movie then progressed to tell the unfolding of the true history of a wild band begun by a teenage Tom Petty who as a child had come under the heavy influence of meeting Elvis at age 11. Early days of his original band Epic evolved into the parties with his second band Mudcrutch performing weekends at the country farmhouse outside Gainesville, Florida. Stories of Tom convincing Mike Campbell and Benmont Tench to quit college and embark with him upon a ridiculous rock and roll illusion to Los Angeles, to be joined along the way by future band members and expanded to embrace side projects with a large circle of musicians and actors, are laced with original photos and film footage. For any fan, whether long time or novice, these images are priceless.
Runnin\' Down A Dream is essentially a film that sets the Tom Petty And The Heartbreaker story straight. 30 \"high school\" years of mysterious happenings captured on film. From tour bus rides to world travel. From home movies to the finest and most modern video production. Blended into one crystalline digital, cathartic, hilarious, harmonious mystery of a dream they never gave up on. The dream to be rock and roll musicians. Along the way there were lessons to be learned, tragedies to overcome, laughter to live, songs to be written, but most of all truth to be processed and encapsulated in their recordings and shared at live performances. An eternal truth that to this day continues to touch the hearts of all their listeners. In addition to tour adventures, the film is clearly a video discography, the telling of the tale of how each one of their albums was written and recorded, along with any trials or highlights that accompanied every release.
Tom Petty comes across as being the rebel leader of a band of happy musicians. He states during the period of writing the songs for The Last DJ that he was \"watching the world (of professional music) decline and could not sit back and not comment on it.\" One gets an instinctual feeling that all of his musical expressions encircle this same perspective. Some of the last songs in the film denote this sensitivity to worldly problems. Live versions of \'Room At The Top \' and clips from the cover of \'Mystic Eyes\', when Tom goes into a rap on giving the concert audience one moment where everything is ok in their lives and in general, let listeners and viewers know he has a heart that cares about everything that goes on around him, be that in his immediate life or in the entire world.
And while the film projects true stories of sadness experienced during some stages of personal and band development, the overall message is one of joyous triumph because, as we all know, the dream they were running down did come true. It is a success story. And one of inspiration and hope. Runnin\' Down A Dream is bound to ignite a new generation of rebellious rock and rollers who take it upon themselves to follow their hearts and aim high for a better world. Who can say what might happen if a new wave of happy musicians are unleashed upon the world? No doubt it is destined to become an American Classic because Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers already are. While the band is definitely rooted in America, the film is a gift to the fans around the world. A chance for Tom and the boys to extend the mystery out into the great wide open, beyond the constraints of any boundaries or borders.
Let Love Open The Door
The premiere audience was given a half hour at intermission to take time to stretch our legs and enjoy the refreshments provided by Warner Bros. Studios. The filmmaker was allowing us time to catch our breath before we re-entered the dream being visualized on the screen. In anticipation, I went in early and was surprised to find I was one of the first back in the theatre. It gave me time to look through the coffee table book and to see that it did reflect in a still life many pieces of the film and thus was something we could take home to hold in our hands and hearts until the film was finally released on DVD.
The audience filtered back into the theatre and soon we were immersed into the second half of Runnin\' Down A Dream. Few people had left during intermission. Most of the premiere viewers had stuck around for the final details of the mystery. And as in a mystery novel, we were slowly fed clues as to how the dream had come true, after all of the early year of hardship Tom and the Heartbreakers had overcome to hit the higher ground of success. It was in this second half that the true meaning of what it was to be connected to this band, as a member or even as a fan, came through in rainbow colors. Discussion along the lines of \"meant to be\" and \"family\" predominated. And I thought to myself of how so many of us fans who had jumped on (or been sucked into the vortex) over the years with the band and with each other, see our own union with Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers as a family sort of thing. That the bond Tom describes with his band mates as being \"family\" is not unlike what we all feel for each other. In some magical manner Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers love for each other as fellow musicians transcends the stage and moves out into the audience. It is this feeling of love that opens the door to our hearts and keeps us coming back for more.
As the movie finished and the house lights came up we became aware of how good of seats we had been given. Sitting behind us to the left was Jeff Lynne. And to the right was Benmont Tench. We had been placed in the section of the theatre reserved for the band. A smile struck my face as I thought about this ironic twist. We and other the premiere attendees were the captive audience of the band. Guinea pigs who they got to watch respond to their heart exposure. What a strange feeling to be sitting in front of the musicians themselves, for them to watch us after so many years of standing and staring at them. A simple twist of fate, and yet for the three fans who were given the privilege of being amongst the test models, studied for response, what an incredible honor and elevating experience it was. Only then did we realize how much this band Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers loves their fans and audience. As drummer Steve Ferrone states in the film that expects to be with them for the rest of his life, I am certain all of us fans can assure the band we will proudly be there for the long run, following that dream wherever it might lead. With Tom Petty as the dream driver.
Oneworldview ~ Melanie Strickland