Written by: FFT Webmaster | August 2nd, 2011
A rock n roll film has to deliver on the music, and the new American indie THE PERFECT AGE OF ROCK N ROLL certainly does that. However, this dynamic drama does much more…..it serves as a kind of morality tale on the themes of friendship, legacy and spiritual connection. Writer/Director Scott Rosenbaum, in his feature debut, finds the right tone of seriousness mixed with excitement in a film that hits all the right notes. He also highlights performances from some of Hollywood’s hottest young talents (Kevin Zegers, Jason Ritter and Taryn Manning) and a wise one from a screen veteran and counterculture hero (Peter Fonda).
In the film, Zegers (best known for his breakthrough performance as the teenage son in TRANSAMERICA) plays Spyder, a hard-drinking, hard-drugging musician whose debut album is a huge hit but who falters on his sophomore effort. In order to capture the lightning-in-a-bottle of his first effort, he returns to his working class Long Island town to reconnectswith his former friend and bandmate (winningly played by indie heartthrob Jason Ritter). Accompanied by a legendary rock ’n’ roll impresario (played by the Easy Rider himself, Peter Fonda) and their ﬁery female manager (8 MILES’ Taryn Manning), they set off on a journey along historic Route 66 in hopes of salvaging a long lost dream and rekindling the mojo that made their debut album a huge success. The road becomes a rocky one as the friendship hits the skids but finds a common thread through their individual and collective inspiration with the true spirit of rock-n-roll.
Writer/director/producer Scott Rosenbaum has been on his own personal road trip with the film. After making a creative decision to become a filmmaker after a successful career on Wall Street, he turned his interest in the music (as a former rock-n-roll drummer) into an obsession to capture the ethos of the rock world and its often dysfunctional cast of characters. Taking several years to polish his original screenplay, he lucked into an assignment on the crew of the Spike Lee army drama MIRACLE OF ST. ANNA and made the acquaintance of producers Mike Ellis and Joe White, who were impressed with the fledgling filmmaker’s passion and the unusual focus of his script. However, the economic crisis that began in 2008 made the effort of raising capital and holding on to cast commitments an especially challenging one.
Despite this, the producers and director were able to grab the attention of such veterans as Peter Fonda, Ruby Dee and Billy Dee Williams, as well as offering juicy roles to the ensemble of young actors. And Rosenbaum’s deep commitment to the music itself, and the exploration of its blues roots, also attracted the attention of several rhythm-and-blues masters, including including 96-year old Pinetop Perkins, Hubert Sulmin, Sugar Blue and Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, all veteran members of the great Muddy Waters and Howlin’ Wolf Bands. Their on-screen music scene in a backwoods blues bar with the actor/musicians Zegers and Ritter is undoubtedly the film’s most dynamic and memorable sequence.
Production began on location in New Jersey and Pennsylvania with Rosenbaum and White traveling cross-country together in an RV, shooting the ﬁlm’s second unit scenes in the desert. Many of their ﬁlm’s shooting locations were chosen to pay homage to rock ‘n’ roll history, including such choice locations Bob Dylan’s infamous hideout during the early 1970’s, and Electric Ladyland Studios, a New York-based recording studio created by Jimi Hendrix and where a who’s who of legendary rock stars have recorded their albums. These and other locations provided the ﬁlmmakers with inspiration while lending authenticity to the sets. In the film’s final scenes set in Los Angeles, literally the end of the cathartic road trip, the producers were fortunate enough to shoot in an extravagant mansion in the hills of Los Feliz, capturing the over-the-top excess of the rock lifestyle to a tee. All of this however is subservient to the power of the story and the ways that the filmmakers have seamlessly incorporated the music. The struggle between “making it” and “making music” has rarely been captured so exquisitely on screen. For more information on the film, which opens on Friday, August 5 in limited release in New York and Los Angeles and via VOD platforms, visit: http://theperfectageofrocknroll.com/