Melody Makers chronicles the birth of music journalism, when rock was in its infancy and Melody Maker magazine, the world’s first music press, was revered as the bible of rock ’n’ roll – not just in the UK, but around the world.
Melody Makers captures the birth of rock ’n’ roll journalism, when Melody Maker magazine transitioned from being a weekly jazz musician’s trade paper – established in 1926 – into an internationally recognized “must read” for rock and roll fans and musicians alike by the mid-1960s. A forerunner to Rolling Stone magazine, Melody Maker was a pop culture phenomenon, and this was, to a great extent, due to its chief contributing photographer, Barrie Wentzell, and his black-and-white photos that blistered across the front cover. Legendary bands were formed from the back-page classified section, and musicians, their unreleased tracks in hand, hung out at the Melody Maker head office on Fleet Street, eager to be interviewed by Melody Maker's journalists during this evolutionary period in rock ’n’ roll – a pop culture phenomenon!
LONG SYNOPSIS: Melody Makers
Through the lens of rock photographer Barrie Wentzell, chief contributing photographer at Melody Maker magazine from 1965 to 1975, Melody Makers chronicles the cultural significance of the magazine, when rock was in its infancy and Melody Maker dominated the public’s perception of the new musicians and their music. Melody Maker was the primary source of exposure for up-and-coming musicians, and these ambitious young journalists shared a common passion: the music. In contrast to the adversarial relationship that would later evolve between artists and the press – this was pre-paparazzi and before media began picking on artists’ idiosyncrasies – Wentzell and the Melody Maker journalists were given free rein editorially and unprecedented access.
Wentzell, unlike music photographers today, holds copyright to his photographs, which feature virtually every notable artist that emerged between 1965 and 1975, including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, David Bowie, The Kinks, Marianne Faithfull, The Rolling Stones and Elton John, to name just a few.
Melody Makers features candid interviews with original Melody Maker staff members, managers, PR reps, music legends Eric Burdon, Ian Anderson, Yes, Nazareth, and other notable musicians who offer new insight into the cultural significance of Melody Maker, which defined this dynamic and formative period in rock music history.
This landmark documentary takes a fresh look at the changing landscape of music to highlight a style of music journalism that no longer exists today.
Melody Makers is not just another niche rock documentary. As a social activist is contains a strong political and social message that asks where are we today in terms of the music that is being produced, and of its greater social impact.
The musicians wanted to speak to this but as it diverted from the trajectory of the main story line I could not incorporate most of it but, I did craft the story in the editing process where it became the C story line.
I am very proud of Melody Makers as my debut feature documentary. It took several years to complete because originally it was the photographer, Barrie Wentzell, his iconic photo archive and the untold stories behind these images that initially grabbed my attention. This was intended to be an intimate one person POV documentary bio pic about him as a rock n roll photographer 1965-1975. Barrie kept referencing Melody Maker magazine and he suggested that I speak to the journalists who work with him on the paper... Melody Maker magazine was founded as a jazz musicians trade paper in 1926 and transitioned into the bible of rock and roll by the mid sixties. Barrie, and his comrades were young men working on the front lines of rock and roll. They had unprecedented access not just in the UK but around the world. Hence, my little intimate artist portrait became a much larger story about a unique period in music and music journalism when confidences were kept and there was trust between the artists, Barrie and these eager young journalists.
Best Music Feature - 19th Bare Bones Int. Film Festival
Honourable Mention, 36th New Jersey Int. Film Festival
15th Female Eye Film Festival
25th Raindance Film Festival
Flickers Rhode Island Film Festival
Arizona Underground Film Festival
11th Red Rock Film Festival
KIN Women's Film Festival
Whistler Film Festival